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Wonderfest Science Envoy Program

Wonderfest Science Envoy Program

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

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 Wonderfest (et al) 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’ outreach skills:

  • Alex Filippenko (UC Berkeley) on becoming a compelling speaker and sparking enthusiasm in a large lecture course
  • Robert Siegel (Stanford) on excellent teaching
  • Lisa Rowland (Stanford) on using the skills of improvisation to captivate audiences
  • Sara ElShafie (UC Berkeley) on “science through story”
  • 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
  • Brandon Brown (University of San Francisco) on effective science writing
  • Kraemer Winslow (MYP Communications) on making your point
  • Robert Strong (Strong Entertainment) on holding people’s attention.

Our first seven years of the Science Envoy Program were superb (superb enough to earn on-going 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 somuchfun) meeting like-minded PhD student-scientists from all different fields.”Mariel Goddu, psychologist
“The Science Envoy Program helped me hone my skills with speaking opportunities aimed at a wide-ranging audience.”Ashwin Singh, physicist
“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
“Being an Envoy is absolutely priceless.” – Trinity Walls, entomologist
“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
“Wonderfest gave me new enthusiasm and confidence to take my science beyond the bench and into the public, and allowed me the opportunity to meet brilliant and inspired new peers in the sciences. I am a better scientist, leader, and communicator for it!” – Evan Groover, plant and microbial biologist
“Wonderfest is by far the best program I got involved in during grad school.” – Deepthi Gorthi, astronomer
“I barely have words. This program was transformational. Thank you so much for everything.” – Caleb Bugg, industrial engineer & operations researcher
These luminaries COULD have gotten their start as Science Envoys!

These luminaries COULD have gotten their start as Science Envoys!