ComSciCon-NY 2019 participants

Interested in science communication and looking for opportunities to get involved? ComSciCon-NY (based out of Cornell University) is looking for organizers from institutes around the northeast to help organize our upcoming virtual conference at the beginning of 2021! We are exploring an array of topics including inclusion in STEM, science policy, education, data visualization and science art! We are in the beginning stages of collecting panelist information and fundraising avenues, so please contact us at if you are interested! Time commitment is flexible and we currently hold meetings every week to two weeks depending on need.

Attendees network with other participants passionate about science communication, learn from and interact with a diverse group of professional communicators and experts selected and invited by the organizers, and produce original works aimed at communicating their scholarly research to public audiences.

Attendees in the national workshop network have founded new science communication organizations in collaboration with other students at the event, published over 80 articles written at the conference in popular publications with national impact, and formed lasting networks with student alumni and invited experts.

Run by graduate students and postdocs, the first ComSciCon-Cornell local workshop began in 2015 with support from the BEST Program and has hosted 200+ participants from the upstate and central New York areas to date. It is now rebranded as ComSciCon-NY to reflect its broader scope.

ComSciCon-NY 2019 provides project management experience

Jumana Badar, Nancy Ruiz, Susi Varvayanis, Adrienne Chang, Sarah Murphy, Kathryn Lanza
Organizers of ComSciCon-NY 2019: Jumana Badar, Nancy Ruiz, Susi Varvayanis, Adrienne Chang, Sarah Murphy, Kathryn Lanza

This year’s ComSciCon-NY took place on August 2-3, 2019, featured 22 panelists and hosted over 48 participants from 13 academic and research institutions:  participants from Binghamton University, SUNY-ESF, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, SUNY Upstate Medical, Syracuse University, Columbia University, University of Buffalo, Roswell Park, Brooklyn College, Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medical and the Ithaca campus took part.

This professional development experience has two unique aspects. One, it is designed to support graduate students interested in science communication. But secondly, the organizers are grad students and postdocs themselves who have taken their passion for communication of scientific research to the next level: helping others discover the need and develop the skills to communicate their research to broad audiences. During the yearlong planning process they learned many transferrable leadership skills: sharing a vision and rallying resources to bring it to fruition; working on a cross-disciplinary team of busy individuals; fundraising; application solicitation, triage, and selection; communication with university representatives, speakers, attendees, and local staff; logistics and event planning; and sustaining institutional memory so the event will continue in future years. Along the way they also learned key skills in conflict resolution, negotiation, how to sell an idea, and effective networking.

To learn more about the 2019 workshop, see  ComSciCon at Cornell grows into 6th year by Nancy Ruiz, member of the organizing committee, published in the Cornell Engineering News page.

Each year, graduate students and postdocs serve on the organizing committee for ComSciCon, a two-day science communication workshop serving STEM graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the Central & Western New York area. The goal of the workshop is to empower future leaders in technical communication to share the results from research in their field to broad and diverse audiences (e.g. friends, family, and policymakers) not just practitioners in their fields. Attendees of the workshop interact with professional communicators (scientists, policymakers, and influential leaders from the local community), build lasting networks with graduate students in all fields of science and engineering, and write and publish original works.

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Individuals interested in serving on the Organizing Committee are not required to have any significant experience in science communication or policy. In addition, it is not required to have previously attended ComSciCon events. If you are interested in serving on the Organizing Committee please contact the ComSciCon-NY organizers. Information sessions are recorded and posted online. Attending an information session is not binding in any way, and your attendance is not mandatory to become a part of the Organizing Committee.

ComSciCon-Cornell 2018

Aaron Chiu, Matthew Whitman, Jason Chang, Andy Sanchez, Sarah Adeyemo, and Felicity Emerson
Organizers of ComSciCon-Cornell 2018: Aaron Chiu, Matthew Whitman, Jason Chang, Andy Sanchez, Sarah Adeyemo, and Felicity Emerson

The 4th Annual ComSciCon-Cornell spanned two days in July (Friday, July 13th and Saturday, July 21st, 2018) on the Cornell University campus. STEM graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from universities around Central and Western New York (e.g. Cornell, Binghamton, Rochester, Syracuse, SUNY-ESF, and others) attended to learn more about digital communications with an emphasis on effective storytelling, dealing with socially sensitive topics, and public engagement.

This year, the Office of Engagement Initiatives co-sponsored this event through an Engaged Opportunity Grant. Sponsorship also was from the Graduate School, CALS, the College of Engineering, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Chemistry, KAVLI, CCMR, the Department of Physics, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the Alliance for Science.

Read their reflection about this ComSciCon-Cornell 2018 event.

ComSciCon-Cornell 2017

Organizers of ComSciCon-Cornell 2017: Rob McDonald, Ben Cohen, Kristen Brochu, Michael McCoy, Frank He, Madhur Srivastava

Read Elodie Gazave’s Cornell Chronicle article highlighting ComSciCon-Cornell 2017. Congratulations to all involved in organizing this event: Benjamin Cohen, Robert MacDonald, Frank He, Michael McCoy, Kristen Brochu, Madhur Srivastava, Tyler McCann, Eugene Philip Law and Susi Varvayanis. See their reflections on this ComSciCon-Cornell 2017 event.

Read more about the 2017 ComSciCon-Cornell in the Cornell Chronicle or on the ComSciCon website.


ComSciCon-Cornell 2016

Additional reflections:

ComSciCon-Cornell 2015

Robert MacDonald and Kristin Hook with Professor Roald Hoffman
Organizers of ComSciCon-Cornell 2015: Robert MacDonald and Kristin Hook with Professor Roald Hoffman. Not pictured: Susannah Kohler.

Kristin Hook, Robert MacDonald and Susannah Kohler organized the ComSciCon-Cornell 2015 event which took place in May.
The regional workshop for upstate New York was inspired by their attendance at the national Communicating Science Conference of 2014. The culminating session had one goal in mind: appeal to attendees to hold a local version of the workshop back at their home institutions. This goal was necessary, given that at the time approximately 850 STEM graduate students from around the country had applied for a mere 50 slots available at the national workshop. With guidance and support from Cornell’s BEST Program, Kristin and Rob successfully led and staged a complex event, from organizing the logistics (venue, food, travel, etc.), rallying for support (team members to help organize, money, etc.), communicating with participants (inviting and hosting speakers), to soliciting and selecting applicants to attend. This is more than leadership training, these skills are learned by doing: something BESTies are getting used to.
Read more about their reflections on ComSciCon-Cornell 2015.

Parts of this spotlight are from the time period of the NIH grant (Sept. 2013- Jun. 2019) to the Cornell BEST Program now housed in the Graduate School as a university-wide initiative “Careers Beyond Academia” to encompass all disciplines.