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MSU SciComm Hosts Science/Art Showcase on October 19

Diane Cowern from Physics Girl program

The Michigan State University Science Communication (MSU SciComm) student organization will host a science-art showcase on October 19. A free live show featuring YouTube star “Physics Girl” Dianna Cowern headlines the showcase. Additional events include a planetarium show, science-art exhibit and a beer release.

Cowern is the creator and host of the viral and PBS-sponsored “Physics Girl” web series. Her series has more than 1.3 million subscribers, and it is a resource for videos and other materials about physics and physics-related topics. Her videos have received more than 80 million views. Her show has featured well-known figures including the legendary Rodney Mullen, Bill Nye, and Anne Wojcicki (founder of 23andMe). In 2019, Cowern was named to the “30 under 30” list by Forbes Magazine.

MSU SciComm is a registered student organization dedicated to science communication beyond articles in science journals. It forges connections between scientists and MSU students and gives students opportunities to improve their skills in varied forms of speaking, writing, art, and policy. The group has hosted workshops on how to communicate with journalists and policymakers and how to write about science for the public. The organization also hosts lunches on the different aspects of science policy.

“Communication is a vital skill, especially in research. If no one understands a discovery, it can’t be shared or used. The discussion of ideas is especially crucial at large research institutions like MSU,” said Chelsie Boodoo, MSU SciComm President. “Although many MSU students study science and conduct research in various STEM fields, they may not be familiar with science communication, so the MSU SciComm has decided to change that. We believe that art is a universal language and that it can be a wonderful bridge between scientists and the public, so we decided to create a series of events all in one day, focused on science-art.”

Several sponsors have partnered with MSU SciComm to make the October 19 showcase a reality. The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) is sponsoring Physics Girl as part of its Advanced Studies Gateway Saturday Morning Physics series. MSU is establishing FRIB as a new scientific user facility for the Office of Nuclear Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The MSU Broad Art Lab awarded a grant to host sessions for the scientists and artists to make their art pieces. Other partners for this event include ASMSU, MSU BEST, and the Council of Graduate Students. The exhibition brings scientists and artists together to create pieces that innovatively express scientific ideas and research, teaching people to communicate science creatively.

The science/art showcase will take place at FRIB, Abrams Planetarium, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, and the Grid Arcade & Bar on Saturday, October 19.

  • FRIB: From 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., visitors can view science/art creations outside of 1300 FRIB Laboratory.
  • Abrams Planetarium: From 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., the public can take a virtual tour of FRIB on the dome and participate in science activities.
  • Wharton Center: From 2 – 4:30 p.m., a free Live Science-Art Show will feature “Physics Girl” (Dianna Cowern). Free tickets are required, available through the Wharton Center ticket office. The show will also be livestreamed in 1300 FRIB Laboratory in conjunction with the science-art exhibition.
  • The Grid Arcade & Bar: From 7 – 10 p.m., “Beat the Scientist” attendees can win prizes and hear short talks by interviewees from The Sci-Files on Impact 89 FM (sponsored by Impact 89 and Astronomy on Tap). A special “Atomic Ale,” brewed by MSU SciComm, The Sci-Files and The Grid with Saugatuck Brewery, will be released at this event. (Note: Attendees must be 21 or older to enter The Grid.)

Leading up to the showcase, Chelsie Boodoo and Daniel Puentes, co-hosts for The Sci-Files on Impact 89 FM and MSU SciComm President and Treasurer respectively, interviewed “Physics Girl” Dianna Cowern.  The interview sheds light on Cowern’s experiences as a science communicator. She discussed her research about dark matter with Professor Jocelyn Monroe as an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and low-metallicity stars with Professor Anna Frebel as a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She also spoke about her favorite parts of being a viral science YouTuber and science communicator. The full interview is available as a podcast on Impact 89 FM or on iTunes.

To learn more about MSU SciComm, visit the MSU SciComm website or contact the organization at MSUSciComm@gmail.com.

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