Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dancing Science and My Experiment with it ~

Ever since the 'communicating science' class in PFP course, I have been trying really hard to write blogs for communicating the science we do in our lab at VT.

I found some super-creative, engaging, and insightful instances of science well communicated:

Computational approaches in high-throughput proteomics data analysis

My Experiment with Dancing:

Here is my attempt to explain the major stuff we do in our lab group: 

Whenever we do any of these things- drink, eat, sleep + everything else that we do in between drinking, eating, and sleeping,  we affect ourselves and our planet. 

In our lab, we try to measure the effects of our actions on our environment. We hope that we will be able to catch a potentially detrimental action much before the damage is irreparable.

Years ago, a man-made chemical called CFC was promoted as the coolest invention ever. It actually was used in refrigerators to help keep them cool. We were very excited for using and exploiting its benefits!

In fact, we were so excited that we forgot to breathe, step back, and enquire if this new chemical CFC is damaging our environment. 

Eventually, we did realize that we were fast losing a protective layer in our atmosphere. This protective layer (also known as ozone layer) is the layer that blocks sun's harmful rays and saves higher life forms from damage. We did find out that CFC, our awesome man-made chemical was responsible for depletion of this beautifully protecting and natural layer in our atmosphere.

Sadly, it is almost too late for us to repair the ozone layer within our life-time. 

So, we in Pruden lab at Virginia Tech, very carefully monitor man-made chemicals that include anti-biotics, and their effect on environment. We hope we will not make an avoidable CFC-type mistake again.


  1. I thought it was really interesting in that class session on how inprov "games" can help talking about science in a way that most people can understand. I found it really cool b/c it overlaps a lot with ethics, in that if you can communicate with the general public about something as complex as your example above, you're more prepared to listen to them as well.

    I think that this can be extended to pedagogy as well in that you're more prepared to engage with them instead of at them...

    a funny video on improv:

    p.s. I couldn't figure out how to comment for some reason, so I'm doing it anonymously. But this is William Rhoads.

  2. Thank you William, for this insightful comment. You are right the improv changed so much in how I talk about science that for the first time my mom actually followed my research's description for about 3 minutes! Wooh! That is huge!!
    I love how you bring out the subtle difference between engaging 'with' and engaging 'at'! This difference alone highlights all my reasons for being in these two classes! :=)

  3. What a great explanation, Gargi! PFP is a great class. I enjoyed and learned a lot during our class on 'Communicating Science'. Understanding how important it is to engage your audience with your work by establishing the right bridge/ level of communication is one of my favorite and most important take-home messages. I believe improvisation is one of the tools that allows you to accomplish this. Have you had so far the opportunity to use this technique while explaning your research? Maybe with your mom?

  4. Michel,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment!
    I totally concur with you on the take home message that I am taking home from the wonderful communicating science class: "to engage your audience with your work by establishing the right bridge/ level of communication" - in your words. I am still a lot shy of improvisation. I have not yet tried it. Have you?I would love to hear about different experiences!