An Inclusive SciComm Update

From our new Program Specialist, Dr. Emily Cribas

Hello, Metcalf community!

I’m thrilled to be joining the Metcalf team as its first dedicated Inclusive Science Communication Program Specialist. A little about me: I am a first-generation Central American born and raised in South Florida who just finished her PhD in Cell Biology at Penn. In its highest form, I see (inclusive) science, and science communication, as an experience-driven, equity-centered process we all engage in to know ourselves and our role in the world as change-makers. My intention in our time together is to co-explore data-driven ways to improve how science is done, and specifically how it’s communicated. I also send gratitude to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and the Rita Allen Foundation and their Civic Sciences Associates program, for their gracious financial and professional support towards advancing this goal.

This year, we launched the first cohort of the SciComm Identities Project (SCIP), a five-year NSF-funded fellowship in collaboration with Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The SCIP team is training the next generation of science communicators from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds by uniquely centering their identities, personal motivations, experiences, and priorities in their professional work. SCIP will identify novel and impactful science communication methods in four cohorts of pre-tenure faculty of color investigating various topics in environmental science. In its first year, we ‘graduated’ 12 inaugural SCIP fellows whose research focused on energy. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of our amazing fellows and a deep gratitude to the organizing team for their pioneering efforts in making this fellowship possible. 

As we embark on the second year of SCIP, we are integrating the lessons and feedback we received from the 2023 fellows into our 2024 programming. Our second SCIP cohort members’ research focuses on water themes. We eagerly anticipate their contributions to inclusive science communication..

Finally, we held our fourth biennial Inclusive SciComm Symposium (ISCS) starting in September, for the virtual portion, and taking place in October, for the in-person portion. ISCS is a unique, global convening of practitioners, scholars, and educators in science communication, in and outside academia, to discuss, learn, and co-create new, radically inclusive ways of practicing, teaching, and evaluating science communication. Taking a larger view, ISCS is a vital opportunity to build and strengthen diverse learning communities that are reimagining science and science communication. In collaboration with the Pueblo Consulting team, a new component of ISCS was the inaugural Community Cohort, a network of community-driven practitioners at the forefront of social change, who received funded support to attend and explore meaningful connections as part of the ISC community. We are grateful to all of our attendees, planning committee members, and the Pueblo team for their unwavering support. 

“[The 2023 Inclusive SciComm Symposium] was unlike any scicomm event I have ever been to…I’m still working through all the lessons I gathered at the event, but the one that sticks out the most for me right now is this: science does not take place in a vacuum. Scientific practice is only as good as how the public receives it. If we disregard the history, culture, and values of the communities our work impacts, science and society both suffer.
Ben Marcus, Smithsonian

This is a very exciting time of transition at Metcalf and I look forward to helping to shape the future of the institute with our team. In 2024, I intend to build on the success of our current initiatives and to connect and expand our work with the inclusive science community, including journalists who communicate climate and environmental science. As a cofounder and previous operations director of a student-run psychedelic nonprofit, I am committed to a “progress over perfection” model of work that centers wellbeing, relationships, and nature. Inclusive science communication is a self-reflective process with many exciting, and as of yet, unanswered and unasked questions around training, evaluation, and impact. I look forward to getting to know you all and working together to explore these questions. My door is always open.

In solidarity,