Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science Recipients
Shane Bergin is honored for his commitment and demonstrated impact to engaging the public in science through innovative methods that bring science into the daily lives of his local community. In particular, Bergin was recognized for spearheading a public-engagement campaign on Dublin's rapid-transit system (the DART) — an effort to generate interest in science and science careers. His "DARTofPhysics" project sought to change the perception of physics in Ireland by prompting commuters to ponder intriguing questions about physical phenomena. Posters on train cars asked, for example, how many leaves fall in Dublin every autumn, and how gravitation draws people together.
After having their curiosity "zapped," many Dubliners responded by logging onto a website featuring fun science content, profiles of physicists, and more. For his campaign, Bergin enlisted the support of some 200 undergraduate physics students, 50 Ph.D. candidates, and 50 staff members from the physics and education departments of Trinity College Dublin. The team leveraged both social and traditional media to help raise awareness of the importance of physics, and science in general.
Though still at an early stage of his career, Bergin has developed many other educational and communication-focused activities, including the Trinity College Pitch Drop. In 2013, he used a video camera to capture a rare physical event: a drop of pitch (tar) falling from an antique funnel. The resulting video, which dramatically illustrates the effects of viscosity, has been viewed more than 2 million times.
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang is honored for her sustained commitment and novel approach to integrating public engagement with science into her extensive research and scholarly activities and for using public interactions to inform her research. She engages K-12 students in her neuroscience research through lab visits and internships for students from low-performing schools, and compliments her research by meeting with each study participant to discuss their brain scans, as well as their college plans and potential interest in a science career.
Baratunde Cola is honored for his commitment to an exceptional research career while sharing his passion for science and engineering by engaging in creative and collaborative outreach with teachers and students in underrepresented communities. He works with K-12 teachers to create broadly dispersed education materials in the fields of nanotechnology and energy conservation, from hands-on engineering competitions to nanotechnology-inspired art displays.
Daniel Colón-Ramos is passionate about contributing to the development of future scientists and has spoken broadly about his experience on the academic path to a research career, the importance of mentoring and role models in science education, and the need for an open dialogue between scientists and the general public. He is editor of a collection of short stories and essays about science written by Puerto Rican scientists and is currently piloting a project engaging K-12 students in learning and conveying, through podcasts of their own, the concepts taught in the book.
Lynford L. Goddard is honored as the first recipient of the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science for exemplifying an early career scientist eager to share his excitement about science and demonstrating excellence in reaching high school students with activities in electrical engineering, while simultaneously pursuing a competitive research career.