The importance of communicating science to the public cannot be minimized. As professional scientists, we must remember that we have this unique position because of the efforts of a lot of people. Let’s call them the “public”. Our parents, siblings, friends, teachers, mentors, supervisors, patients, students and assistants have all done many things to help us achieve our science stature. Taxpayers, legislators, decision- makers at companies, philanthropists, and donors who have funded our expensive projects deserve much credit too. We must look at our career and realize that it is a gift to be a scientist … and like any gift, we should say thanks to those who presented it to us.
Scientists are trained to look at a situation with an objective or skeptical view. Removing “self” and emotion is a critical component of the scientific process. However, when it comes to communication with the public, we are connecting with humans and this process is different than doing a controlled experiment. The public hears and remembers messages that are emotional and appreciate receiving a thank you for their help in making our work become a reality.
Find and make opportunities to give thanks to the public. This includes giving heartfelt presentations about your work and what you’ve achieved. Write op-ed pieces to the local paper about you and your work. Give informal talks at local clubs and science cafes. Stop into your university administrators’ office and quickly introduce yourself and your research, and thank them for their support. Send a message of appreciation to your congressional representatives. You’ll not only feel good, you’ll also be remembered and recognized by the public.