Wonderfest Science Envoy Program

Charles Darwin

I sometimes think that general and popular treatises are almost as important for the progress of science as original work. 
– Charles Darwin

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About Science Envoys

How can we encourage researchers to educate the public about their work — and about the glories of science, in general?  One way: get those researchers when they’re young!

Wonderfest’s Science Envoy Program, funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, identifies PhD students who show particular science-popularization promise. We help the budding researchers to develop the subtle art and science of public outreach. The program’s participants emerge as articulate Science Envoys, appearing before live Wonderfest audiences that are eager for their insights.

Wonderfest’s Science Envoy Program presents active science communication workshops that draw on the expertise of the following teachers to develop PhD students’ speaking skills:

  • Alex Filippenko (UC Berkeley) on becoming a compelling speaker
  • Robert Siegel (Stanford) on excellent teaching
  • Lisa Rowland (Stanford) on using the skills of improvisation to captivate audiences
  • Jack Conte (Patreon) on building an Internet following
  • Hilary Spreiter (Stanford) on “the essentials of communication”
  • Jacob Bien (USC) on visual aids that truly elucidate
  • Kraemer Winslow (MYP Communications) on making your point sink in
  • Robin Marks (NCSWA) on explaining your science to an 8th grader.

Our first three years of the Science Envoy Program were superb (superb enough to earn another year of Moore Foundation funding). As we continue to help young scientists to find their public voices, Wonderfest is excited about the long-term impact that the Envoy program can have on science popularization. What could be better for promoting science to future generations than to augment the ranks of researchers who take science popularization seriously?


Past Wonderfest Science Envoys reflect:

“The Science Envoy Program helped me become a more confident speaker, and helped remind me that not only is science fun & exciting, but the true joy is in sharing it.”Leslie Koyama, developmental biologist
“It was absolutely invaluable (and so much fun) meeting like-minded PhD student-scientists from all different fields.”Mariel Goddu, psychologist
“Wonderfest has completely changed the way I give and listen to talks!”Carina Cheng, astronomer
“The Workshops have made me a better presenter and have helped me be a more effective and empathetic communicator with advisors, colleagues, and students.”Dylan Hadfield-Menell, computer scientist
“In addition to providing practical tools through workshops, the Science Envoy Program allowed me to enjoy my first of hopefully a lifetime of public science talks.” – Robert McGehee, physicist
“Thank you for this wonderful experience, both for my career and my personal life.”Julie Hui, anthropologist
These luminaries COULD have gotten their start as Science Envoys!

These luminaries COULD have gotten their start as Science Envoys!

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