Poster Highlight: ComSciCon trains grad students (& postdocs) on science communication



ComSciCon is an organization by and for Grad Students

Full disclosure? I'm a total science communication nerd.

I’m constantly distracted from research by science twitter (Sorry Ken!) and spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how scientists can help uniform the public about all the great research going on thanks to their tax dollars. All this to say, I was immediately enamored with the ComSciCon organization.

I actually first learned about the organization back in 2016, when I attended one of the satellite workshops in Chicago. I learned about data visualization from a psychologist who literally studies how our brains perceive patterns in data. I heard inspiring stories of getting involved with youtube from Emily Graslie (The Brain Scoop) at the Field Museum. Not only did I listen to panels & talks, but I also got the chance to practice my own skills with ‘pop talks.’ Basically, attendees are given one minute to describe their research for a general audience & get immediate feedback via audience cue cards that are labelled “awesome” or “jargon.”

So why am I bringing up a science communication conference I attended several years ago? Well one attendee from ComSciCon’s leadership, Alie Caldwell, presented a poster about the organization and how to get involved!

ComSciCon’s goals are to “empower early career scientists to become leaders in their field, propagating appreciation and understanding of research results to broad and diverse audiences.” The organization accepts 50 applicants each year (out of approximately 1000 applications) to it’s Flagship conference where expert science communicators like Ed Yong from the Atlantic help train young scientists on communication skills that will benefit them both inside and outside of academia.

Beyond the Flagship conference, there are also 9 satellite conferences across the US (with potentially a new one starting up in Canada!). Across all the conferences, ComSciCon has trained over 1500 graduate students and postdocs! Of course, the organization is still growing & hoping to find new areas to expand and new sponsors to help fund the work.

Want to learn more about getting involved with ComSciCon? You can reach out to the leadership team at

PS- Seriously though, full disclosure. I am an organizing member of ComSciCon and am leading the program organization committee for the 2019 Flagship Conference.

Sadie Witkowski
PhD Candidate, Northwestern University


Great poster Allie! I’m excited that multiple neuroscientists have loved ConSciCon! I did too and helped organize ComSciCon-Triangle after my wonderful experiences with the workshop. Highly recommend!!!