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Science Communication

Effective communication skills enable scientists to engage non-experts, inform public opinion and policymakers, inspire the next generation of scientists and voters, and improve our own research process. UNAVCO provides communication training for our three internship programs, offers on-demand communication training to our community, and develops training materials that can be incorporated into independent curriculum. Our approach focuses on encouraging conversation between scientists and non-experts. The skills practiced can be applied to all channels of communication, from a public or academic lecture to a social media feed.

The Importance of Science Communication Skills

At UNAVCO, we believe that science communication is a crucial science skill that must be learned and practiced. Science communication training can also provide key benefits such as cohort and confidence building. For more on science communication training and best practices, see our publication list:

Our Offerings

UNAVCO, often with partners, provides science communication training at major and mid-sized meetings, as well as at member institutions by request. Trainings are modular and customizable, ranging from a 20-minute introduction to networking to a multi-day program with remote follow-on sessions. See our Short Course page for past and future offerings.

Topics we cover include both professional communication (to scientific peers) and public communication:

  • Basic communication skills, including self-awareness and understanding our audience
  • Networking
  • Poster presentations
  • Oral presentations
  • Hazards communication
  • Visual communication
  • Social media
  • Storytelling
  • Working with the media

Our Materials

UNAVCO joined the Portal to the Public Network (PoPNet) in March 2016 to offer PoPNet-style hands-on communication training to the geodetic scientific community. Portal to the Public is a tested system of professional development tools designed to better connect scientists and the public in positive dialogue, in informal education settings such as museums. Our primary goal with Portal to the Public is to enable meaningful experiences between geoscientists and the public.

Additionally, UNAVCO has developed our own training materials with various partners through our experience working with scientists at all career levels, from undergraduates to professional researchers and educators. Please contact us with feedback or any questions about how to best use the materials below at

Worksheets & Handouts

UNAVCO has developed a suite of worksheets and other resources that can be used by individuals or applied in a classroom or workshop setting. They are useful for scientists at all career levels. These materials, as well as other materials on this page, are in constant development and feedback is welcome.

And I Am A quick guide to creating an elevator speech about you and your networking goals

But Why? A quick guide to crafting an elevator speech about your research

Preparing for Your Poster Session A worksheet to help students prepare their poster presentations at scientific meetings

Social Media for Science A worksheet to help scientists and communicators plan their social media strategy

Main Idea Map A worksheet to help scientists recognize what about their work will connect with their audience

Presenting: Science! Tips & Tricks for Communicating Broadly Tips & tricks sheet for giving informal science presentations

Improvisation Games for Science Communication A few select games for team and skill building

Other Resources & Opportunities

    Much work has been done on providing resources on improving communication between scientists and non-experts. In addition to what is presented here, we invite you to explore our partner resources and the following opportunties that can get you started on communicating your science, regardless of where you are.

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
    See the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science & Technology.
  • The National Academies
    Download resources from the Science Communication Collection.
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
    Join the Sharing Science network.
  • American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
    For classroom visits, check out Visiting Geoscientists: An Outreach Guide for Geoscience Professionals.
  • University of British Columbia
    To work on your science writing skills with tips and tricks through videos, text, and quizzes visit UBC's Science Writing Resources for Learning (SwWRL).
  • Skype a Scientist
    Sign up to visit classrooms remotely through the free Skype a Scientist program. Teachers can sign up for free, too.
  • NPR Scicommers
    A community of scientists and engineers that includes undergrads, graduate students, post docs and faculty interested in improving their science communication skills. The NPR Scicommers team has begun several initiatives to help Scicommers become better connected with each other, develop science communication related skills and advise on career development.
  • Massive Science
    Refine your writing skills and get published for a public audience through the online publication Massive Science; check out their training program.
  • The Conversation
    Publish your research for a broad audience through the online publication The Conversation; so long as you are at a research institution, you can sign up to become an author.
  • AAAS Mass Media Fellowship
    Learn modern mass media as a science journalist embedded at a working publication through the AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship Program.

We are happy to consider adding other opportunities to this page. Please email your suggestions to


Last modified: 2020-05-11  12:42:26  America/Denver