The Science Network Workshop Series

Communication and advocacy trainings for scientists

Published Aug 2, 2013 Updated Jan 31, 2024

These sessions are part of a series intended to strengthen the communication and advocacy skills of Science Network members.

Future workshops

More information coming soon.

On-demand workshops

Science Communication

Cultivating Your Voice and Banishing Your Inner Impostor: Workshop for Women in STEM

There are many challenges navigating academic and scientific fields, especially for people who identify as women in STEM fields. Feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, or being a fraud in your position despite your talents, accomplishments, and qualifications are examples of impostor syndrome. Presenters from the Stony Brook University School of Journalism, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and the Colorado School of Mines explored the prevalence of impostor syndrome in STEM, and shared skills in communication that foster your own career advancement and manage your inner impostor.

Be the Change: Building Support for Scientist Engagement

There is a growing movement for academia to incentivize and reward scientists who bring their work to the public and decisionmakers. This training with our partner, Future of Research, covers strategies for building support for scientist engagement in your institution.

Featuring: Elyse Aurbach-Pruitt, co-founder and co-director, RELATE (Researchers Expanding Lay-Audience Teaching and Engagement);Nalini Nadkarni and Caitlin Weber, STEM Ambassador Program (STEMAP); and Dan Pomeroy, managing director and senior policy advisor, International Policy Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. First aired August 31, 2017.

Rewriting the Narrative With Science

A training on how to communicate the value of science in policy in compelling ways—even to less science-friendly audiences. We talk about new and innovative ways to reframe the discussion, and discuss how to focus on the facts and not opinions and assumptions in ways that may open the door to a productive conversation.

Featuring: Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientists and director of climate science, UCS Climate & Energy Program; Ellyn Weiss, artist, lawyer, former counsel to UCS, current UCS board member; Nehemiah Mabry, founder of STEMedia, winner of "best overall video" for the National Academy of Engineering's E4U3 Mega-Engineering video contest. First aired February 1, 2017.

Facing the Bullies: Stories and Strategies for Combatting Scientist Harassment

Scientists sometimes become harassment targets when they share contentious research findings or opinions. And women, people of color, and LGBTQ scientists are more likely to face harassment and marginalization because of their identities. These attacks can take multiple forms—traditional and social media, open-records requests, even subpoenas—but the goals are the same: to discredit the research by discrediting, intimidating, or distracting the researcher. Fortunately, there are ways to respond to legitimate scrutiny of your work while protecting your reputation and building resilience to attacks.

Hosted by Michael Halpern, program manager for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and featuring Michael E. Mann, author, professor, and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center; Mika McKinnon, geophysicist, writer, and editorial manager at Science Borealis; and Ramón S. Barthelemy, former Fulbright Scholar and current AAAS science policy fellow. First aired September 19, 2016.

Talking Up without Talking Down

Conveying scientific concepts to nonscientific audiences requires a different language, and different communication techniques. This webinar will allow you to hear from a group of science professionals that have, in very different settings, presented science in an engaging and convincing manner--from the offices of Capitol Hill, to the stage, to a high school classroom.

Presenters: Liz Neeley, Executive Director, Story Collider; Yogin Kothari, Washington Representative, Union of Concerned Scientists; Andrea Basche, Kendell Science Fellow, Union of Concerned Scientists. First aired June 25, 2016.

From Aristotle to South Park: The ABT Framework as a New Tool for Science Communication

Scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson discusses his “And, But, Therefore” template (the ABT) for creating a narrative. He shows how he has expanded it into The Narrative Spectrum, presents examples of it working with scientists, and talks about the universal importance of narrative structure.

Presenter: Randy Olson, marine biologist-turned-filmmaker, author of Houston, We Have a Narrative; moderator: Aaron Huertas, Senior Washington Director at Cater Communications. First aired December 1, 2015.

Not Just Another Powerpoint: Best Practices to Bring Your Presentation to Life

One of the best ways to use your expertise to make an impact on the policy making process is to give expert testimony or comments. Our presenters cover how to prepare and give testimony at the state and local levels for hearings, and how to prepare for and participate in public comment periods.

Presenters: Andrew Gunther, Executive Director, Center for Ecosystem Management & Restoration; Marcia DeLonge, Agroecologist, Union of Concerned Scientists. First aired July 23, 2015.

Additional resources: Not Just Another Powerpoint: More Tips to Bring Presentations to Life

The Story Behind the Scientist

Whether it’s talking about your research, pitching an idea for a project or grant, or just talking to family and friends about what you do, it’s important to craft a story about your work or your research. This workshop provides strategies for storytelling and resources on communicating important ideas in a story framework.

Presenters: Seth Shulman, Editorial Director at Union of Concerned Scientists; Casey DeMoss, CEO of Alliance for Affordable Energy; Eric Michelman, Director of More Than Scientists. First aired May 19, 2015.

Pushing Back Against Misinformation

This workshop is filled with science communication tips on how to engage on contentious issues, how to frame your arguments so they aren’t reinforcing myths, and how to push through the cacophony so the truth can be heard.

Presenters: Aaron Huertas, Press Secretary, UCS; Scott Mandia, co-founder Climate Science Rapid Response team and Climate Science Legal Defense Fund; Dave Anderson, Outreach Coordinator, Climate & Energy, UCS. First aired March 26, 2015.

Social Media for Scientists: Science Communication for the Web

For scientists, engineers, and other experts, there are many benefits to using social media, including sharing your research with new audiences, building relationships with others who share your interests, and creating a network of others you can reach out to with questions or to bounce ideas off of. Our presenters will share stories about how engaging online has helped them professionally, and offer tips to help get you started.

Presenters: Katy Love, Online & New Media Manager, UCS; Ray Dearborn, Campaign Lab Director at Upwell; Liz Neeley, Assistant Director of Science Outreach, COMPASS; Matthew Francis, Science Writer and Director of CosmoAcademy. First aired November 5, 2014.

Your Elevator Pitch

From the traditional elevator pitch to quick phone calls with policy makers, scientists must be able to represent their work and its importance in a quick yet impactful way. This workshop arms scientists with the skills to have effective short conversations with a number of different types of audiences.

Presenters: Sean Meyer, Nuclear Safety Campaign Manager, UCS; Edward Parson, UCS National Advisory Board and Science Network member, and Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; Jalonne White-Newsome, a federal policy analyst at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. First aired May 29, 2014.

Communicating with Confidence: How to deal with uncertainty

This workshop addresses how to deal with uncertainty on scientific issues. It covers how to approach and prepare for conversations about complicated issues with the media, the public, and policy makers. Our presenters show how viewers can develop their ability to frame conversations to the information they are confident in and to address uncertainty in a constructive and informative way.

Presenters: Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior Climate Scientist, UCS; Aaron Huertas, Press Secretary, UCS; Knute Nadelhoffer, UCS Science Network member, and Professor of Ecosystem Ecology, University of Michigan. First aired February 5, 2014.

Communicating Science Amid Confusion and Uncertainty

This workshop builds off of the presenters’ experiences with difficult questions from the media, government officials, and the public. Viewers will benefit from the techniques and tools this workshop will provide to stay on topic and handle uncertainty when asked challenging questions.

Presenters: Aaron Huertas, Press Secretary, UCS; Lisa Nurnberger, Press Secretary, UCS; Nick Schroeck, UCS Science Network member, and Executive Director, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. First aired September 17, 2013.

Informing Policy and Influencing Decision Makers

Preparing for Science Advocacy in 2021

We have seen how powerful it can be when people raise their voices and take action within their communities, states, and institutions. Under the Biden administration, we may have an opportunity to enact real change at the federal level, but only if we keep applying pressure. On this virtual training with experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists we discussed the science advocacy movement, and how we can use what we know about building power through social movements to engage strategically in science advocacy with the new administration and Congress.

First aired December 1, 2020.

How to Build a Relationship With Your Member of Congress

This online training covers how to build relationships with your members of Congress, the importance of Congressional Oversight, and tips to have meaningful in-district meetings. The webinar features UCS Washington Representative Pamitha Weerasinghe and Senior Outreach Coordinator Liz Schmitt.

First aired January 16, 2019.

How to Get Candidates on the Record for Science

This online training covers how to find strategic moments to engage candidates in public events, use local media coverage and social media to get candidates talking, and craft compelling messages connecting science issues within your local community. The 2018 midterm elections are kicking into full gear this August, and it is a perfect moment to get candidates running for office on the record about the value of science-based policy solutions. The webinar features Science Network member Kellyann Jones, microbiologist and Kansas City Health Commissioner, Alyssa Tscuchiya, UCS legislative associate, and Juan Declect-Barreto, UCS climate scientist.

First aired July 18, 2018.

Meeting with Your Members of Congress

This online training covers how to set up in-district meetings with your legislators, how to prepare to ensure a successful meeting, and what you should know about the appropriations process that is coming up. The webinar features three Science Network members who recently had in-district meetings with their members of Congress, plus a UCS lobbyist who has experience bringing science to members of Congress.

First aired November 28, 2017.

The Role of Science in the New Political Era

A post-election webinar with UCS President Ken Kimmell on the role of science in the new Trump administration. We discuss the vital role scientists and experts like you can play in informing the new administration, and highlight opportunities for you to advocate for science-based policies in 2017. Read the Storify to see the online conversation.

Presenters: Ken Kimmell, president, Union of Concerned Scientists; Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. First aired December 7, 2016.

The Role of Scientists and Engineers on Advisory Committees

Scientists and technical experts from all occupational backgrounds have valuable expertise to provide to advisory committees on the local, state, and federal level. This webinar gives an overview of what advisory committees are, how to be nominated for one, and how these committees influence policy and regulations.

Presenters: Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists; Dr. Richard Ezike, transportation fellow at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. First aired March 8, 2016.

Testifying in Public Comment Periods and Local Hearings

One of the best ways to use your expertise to make an impact on the policy making process is to give expert testimony or comments. Our presenters cover how to prepare and give testimony at the state and local levels for hearings, and how to prepare for and participate in public comment periods.

Presenters: Steve Frenkel, Midwest Office Director and energy policy expert, UCS; Adam Rosenberg, Democratic Staff Director, Energy Subcommittee, U.S. House of Representatives;  Jeremy Richardson, Senior Energy Analyst, UCS. First aired October 16, 2014.

Science and Policy Change: Using Your Expertise to Influence the Policy-Making Process

This webinar is a guide for scientists and other experts who are interested in learning how they can use their expertise to make an impact on the policy process at the local, state, or national level. We cover an approach to the theory of social change as it relates to the policy process, what it takes to create policy opportunities and how to identify them, strategies for working with coalitions, and advice on how to be a resource for decision makers.

Presenters: Kate Cell, Senior Outreach Coordinator, UCS Climate and Energy Program; Dr. Dave Cooke, Vehicles Analyst, UCS Clean Vehicles Program; Dr. Daniel Pomeroy, AGU Congressional Science Fellow, Office of Senator Edward Markey. First aired September 10, 2014.

"Following the Rules": How to Understand and Influence the Regulatory Process

This is an overview of how to navigate the regulatory process—from the initial proposal of rules or legislation to their implementation—and the opportunities at each stage for scientists to use their expertise to ensure that policies are scientifically sound and actually protect public health and safety.

Presenters: Felicia Marcus, UCS National Advisory Board member, and Board Chair, State Water Resources Control Board, California Environmental Protection Agency; Andrew Rosenberg, Director, The Center for Science and Democracy at UCS; Michelle Robinson, Director, Clean Vehicles Program, UCS. First aired May 21, 2014.

Tips and Tricks for Communicating with Policy Makers

This workshop examines best practices for working with policy makers at all levels and covers how experts and policy makers can collaborate to constructively effect policy development and implementation.

Presenters: Sean Meyer, Nuclear Safety Campaign Manager, UCS; Rob Cowin, Senior Washington Representative, UCS Climate & Energy Program; Christopher Boniface, UCS National Advisory Board member, and molecular biologist. First aired November 21, 2013.

Advocacy for the Aware but Busy Expert

This workshop details some of the opportunities available to scientists who are interested in starting to engage in, or deepening their involvement with, the policy process. The presenters explore different levels of engagement—ranging from testifying before governmental bodies to writing op-eds—and the time and resource commitments they require.

Presenters: Michael Halpern, Program Manager, The Center for Science and Democracy at UCS; Peter Frumhoff, Director of Science & Policy, UCS. First aired September 30, 2013.

Talking with the Media

Getting Your Letter to the Editor Published

Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) in local newspapers is a very effective and relatively easy means to reach the public. Members of Congress also keep a close eye on media coverage, to keep a 'pulse' on issues of importance to their constituents. Therefore, having a strong LTE published helps you both reach a large audience and your elected officials with the same effort. This training covers how to write an effective LTE and get it published in your local newspaper.

Featuring: Derrick Jackson, columnist, The Boston Globe; and Abby Figueroa, West Coast communications officer, Union of Concerned Scientists. First aired July 27, 2017.

Scientists and the Media: Op-eds, LTEs, and Working with Journalists

Sharing information about new discoveries and correcting misinformation are two important ways scientists can work with journalists and ensure science is being accurately portrayed in the media. This workshop details how to build relationships with journalists to have a better understanding of what they’re looking for, what is likely to be published, and how to provide useful background information and quotes on scientific topics.

Presenters:  Neela Banerjee, Senior Correspondent, Inside Climate News; Seth Michaels, Communications Officer, UCS. First aired January 21, 2016.

Rapid Response Ready: Preparing for Media Opportunities

On this webinar you’ll learn how to identify when rapid response opportunities in the media are imminent, how to be a source for reporters and the media, and how you can bring science back to the forefront of breaking news.

Presenters: Aaron Huertas, Science Communications Officer, UCS; Jeff Nesbit, executive director at Climate Nexus, and Dave Robinson, state climatologist of New Jersey. First aired March 11, 2015.

Communicating in Your Own Words: How to talk to the media and the public about science

In this webinar our presenters discuss when to use different types of written communication to make the biggest impact, and share science communication stories from scientists who have mastered the media interview.

Presenters: Aaron Huertas, Science Communications Officer, UCS; Dana Nuccitelli, environmental scientist and climate blogger at Skeptical Science. First aired October 29, 2014.

Getting Science Right in the Media

This workshop is intended to help scientists develop quick and appropriate responses to different representations and misrepresentations of scientific evidence in the media. This will be most useful to scientists who have working relationships with media sources and work on controversial topics that are often conveyed incorrectly in the media.

Presenters: Aaron Huertas, Press Secretary, UCS; James Shapiro, UCS National Advisory Board and Science Network member, and Professor of Bacterial Genetics and Microbiology, University of Chicago. First aired December 4, 2013.

A Scientist's Guide to the Media

Click to view webinar

This is an introduction to how scientists can capture the most important aspects of their work in coherent and concise interactions with the media. Presenters share two templates for preparing for interacting with the media: one for representing new research findings to the press and another for sharing scientific findings and suggesting specific actions people and institutions should take in response.

Presenters: Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior Climate Scientist, UCS; Aaron Huertas, Press Secretary, UCS. First aired September 19, 2013.

Public Engagement and Working with Communities

Beyond the Trend of Decolonizing Science 

This webinar features a conversation led by Indigenous and Black scholars around what it means to "decolonize science." Using the controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope and the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea as a case study, speakers share examples of the role of colonialism in science.

Featuring: Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD, professor of physics, core faculty member, Women's Studies Program, University of New Hampshire; Eve Tuck, associate professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto; Iokepa Casumbal-Salazar, PhD, assistant professor, Native American and Indigenous Studies, Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, Ithaca College; David Uahikea Maile, PhD candidate, instructor Department of American Studies, University of New Mexico. First aired April 15, 2019.

How to Organize an Event that Makes an Impact 

Learn how to organize a successful event that makes an impact and take your science advocacy skills to the next people. Get the inside scoop from experienced event organizers and science advocates on key strategies for a successful event, including how to: assess what type of event will have the most impact on federal or local science-based policies and will help achieve your goals, organize an event that gets the attention of your elected officials or meets other goals that you set out to achieve, recruit people for your event, and ensure that participants feel inspired and are able to stay involved. 

Presenters: Nora Sadik, President, Milwaukee Area Science Advocates; Adrienne Keller, PhD student, Indiana University, and member, ConcernedScientists@IU; Joanna Nadeau, Center for Science and Democracy, UCS; Liz Schmitt, Federal Defense, UCS. First aired May 16, 2018.

Integrating Social Justice into Science

While science has led to many advances that have pushed humanity forwards, it has also disenfranchised communities due to bias and prejudice. The Science Network presents a webinar on integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into your existing research and how to collaborate with local groups to address these social justice issues.

Presenters: Yvette Arellano, research fellow, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS); Navina Khanna, director, HEAL Food Alliance; and Michele Roberts, co-director, Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform. First aired March 14, 2017. Read the Storify.

Hear Me Out: Making Meaningful Connections through Storytelling 

This webinar is a deeper look at ways to communicate the scientific experience and research to different audiences. Presenters give tips on how to actively invite, listen to, and support others' stories and experiences.

Presenters: Dr. Mónica I. Feliú-Mójer, Vice-director, Ciencia Puerto Rico and Program Manager, iBiology and Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator of Environmental Justice and Health Alliance. First aired June 29, 2015.

Additional resources: Resources on Storytelling to Make Meaningful Connections.

Step Out of the Silo: Science through a Community and Social Justice Lens

As scientists and technical experts, you have a unique opportunity to help shape innovative solutions to the problems we face today. This webinar discusses why understanding the historical and social context of communities is essential for shaping interdisciplinary research questions and communicating the relevance and impact of scientific initiatives.

Presenters: Sam Grant, Co-founder of Afro Eco; Juan Reynosa, Field Organizer for Southwest Organizing Project; Sharyle Patton, Director of Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center;  moderator: Judy Robinson, Executive Director of Coming Clean. First aired June 23, 2015.

Additional resources: Practice Questions for Scientist-Community Connections (pdf)
Slides from "Step Out of the Silo" (pdf)

Reaching Out to Local Communities: How to engage with local stakeholders

This workshop specifically focuses on how scientists can engage with stakeholders to develop their research in a way that is most relevant and useful to the public. If scientists can incorporate the interests of stakeholders and the public into their research, their work can better inform people’s decisions as well as public policy.

Presenters: Don Wuebbles, UCS National Advisory Board and Science Network member, and Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois; Joe Uehlein, UCS National Advisory Board member, and Founding President and Executive Director, Voices for a Sustainable Future and the Labor Network for Sustainability; facilitator: Lisa Nurnberger, Press Secretary, UCS. First aired February 27, 2014.

Early Career Scientist Webinars

Balancing Your Career and Advocacy

The webinar features Aradhna Tripati, director, Center for Diverse Leadership in Science, and professor, University of California, Los Angeles; Andy Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists; and Joel Clement, climate whistleblower and former federal executive. Our presenters talk about restrictions for government employees, ways they can inform discussions locally, and how academics can explore their own advocacy paths. Participants receive tips and strategies from experts who have successfully balanced their workloads with their advocacy interests. First aired February 5, 2018.

Mentoring: Catalyzing the Next Generation of Scientists

This webinar offers strategies and resources for cultivating a good mentor relationship and ensuring both your academic pursuits and your passion for advocacy and policy are nurtured.

Featuring: Mentor/mentee pair Sandra Schmid and Ashley Lakoduk from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. First aired October 12, 2017.

Mentorships: Navigating the Science Advocacy World

The UCS Science Network and Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) present a webinar specifically for early career scientists on how to identify resources and connect with mentors involved in public engagement and science advocacy.

First aired May 18, 2017.

Plan Your Scientific Career: Paths in Public Engagement

Leaders who work in science policy and public engagement recommend resources and opportunities for early career scientists to take advantage of, and talk about what they're looking for on applications for job openings related to science policy.

Featuring: Yaihara Fortis-Santiago, science alliance director, New York Academy of Sciences; Ashley Huderson, adjunct professor, University of the District of Columbia and current American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow; Melanie Roberts, director, Emerging Leaders in Science and Society, AAAS. First aired October 26, 2016.

So, What Do You Do, Exactly? How to talk about the value of your research

Scientists are often asked about their work, but what people are often asking is how their work matters to the broader public. This workshop covers science communication tools that can help navigate how to talk about science and research to public audiences.

Presenters: Tom Di Liberto, Meteorologist, Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Kellen Marshall, PhD candidate at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. First aired November 17, 2015.

So You Want to Work in Science Policy?

This workshop is geared toward early-career scientists interested in a non-traditional science career at the nexus of science and policy. Issues discussed include how to identify opportunities for advancement via the successful use of advocacy activities and places to look for leadership opportunities.

Presenters: Andrew Rosenberg, Director, The Center for Science and Democracy at UCS; Emily Boniface, student of epidemiology and UCS National Advisory Board member, Christopher Boniface, molecular biologist and UCS National Advisory Board member. First aired September 25, 2014.

Finding the Unconventional Career

Early-career scientists have the exciting opportunity to pursue non-traditional careers that connect science and advocacy. This workshop will explore the value of scientific training in the policy process, the options available, and the routes for navigating potential career paths. These strategies will be particularly relevant to early-career scientists who are interested in careers at the nexus of science and policy, so they can begin to develop a sense of where they would be effective advocates and how to get there.

Presenters: Gretchen Goldman, analyst in the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS; Laura Grego, senior scientist in the Global Security Program at UCS. First aired December 5, 2013.

Meeting with Your Members of Congress

Be in the Room Where It Happens

This webinar will help prepare you to be an impactful scientist advocate for some of the most pressing issues we work on. You’ll get trained on how to have an effective meeting with your members of Congress so that you can use your expertise to fight for sound and just policymaking.

Among the thousands of issues facing Congress this year, your expert voice can help determine what solutions are heard, considered, and implemented. The country is counting on you—and the rest of the scientific community—to help shape the future.

Access leave-behind fact sheets for your upcoming meetings with elected officials: