How to Talk to a Non-Scientist

  • 22 February 2019
  • Author: Frederika Bain
  • Number of views: 1333
How to Talk to a Non-Scientist

CTAHR graduate students held the 2nd Annual Plant Sciences Symposium on February 8, this year focused on science communication. It examined how scientists communicate with the public and offered tools on how to become better communicators in the morning, and told the story of ‘Rainbow’ papaya in Hawai‘i in the afternoon. Facilitated by M’Randa Sandlin (TPSS), the Symposium featured experts in science communication and on GM foods and technologies from Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, and O‘ahu. 

In the morning session on science communication, panelists stressed the importance of cultivating trust, taking a neutral position, and allowing people to come to their own conclusions once they had been given accurate information. 

The afternoon session explored the specifics of ‘Rainbow’ papaya, its creation and its impact on Hawai‘i farmers and consumers. Panelists for the “Case Study of Genetically Engineered Papaya” included Steve Ferreira (PEPS), Richard Manshardt (TPSS), Ken Kamiya (Kamiya Farms), and Ted Radovich (TPSS), who took time out from his sabbatical leave to participate. Non-GMO papaya are vulnerable to the Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV), a disease which was devastating local papaya production and the farmers’ livelihood, so UHM researchers created a genetically modified papaya which is resistant to this virus. Its impact has been significant, reinvigorating local papaya production. Prominent papaya farmer Ken Kamiya enthused, “‘Rainbow’ papaya saved our butts!”

Attendees of the symposium, primarily scientists, reported that thetopics discussed during this symposium would help them to become better science communicators. A recording of the full symposium can be found here. Congratulations go to the CTAHR students for putting together a successful and engaging symposium!


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