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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Activities & Organizations

‘UH Engineering STEMinist Podcast’ aims to teach science communication

STEMinist podcast

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Seeing a lack of science communications courses at UH, one student has launched a project called the UH Engineering STEMinist Podcast.

Nicole Guinn, a second year Ph.D. student in the Geosensing Systems Engineering and Sciences program is the host of the podcast, and works with the communication office in the Cullen College of Engineering to produce and record the show.

“I wanted to focus some of my Ph.D. work on science communication,” Guinn said. “Science communication is a huge part of any Ph.D. degree but is seldom practiced.” 

Guinn saw that there are no university-level classes for science communication and most of the time students lack this integral skill. As a result, she brought up the issue to her adviser and was referred to the communications department at the Cullen College to try to find a way to practice science communication skills.

The podcast focuses on two main goals; improvement of science communication skills and giving a voice to women in the STEM field. She also notes that this project has allowed her to expand her field of knowledge while enhancing her interview skills.

“The other side is that the people, mostly women, who I interview, get to have their story shared in a way they want,” Guinn said. “We have a lot of great discussions about what it is like to be a woman in the STEM field, experiences of underrepresented groups in STEM and imposter syndrome.”

The first season of episodes featured STEM topics such as climate change, lidar cameras in the new iPhones, hurricanes and space exploration. 

“The interview episodes range from interviewing alumni who work in STEM-related fields to current graduate student research to highlighting events at the University such as the Engineering Career Fair, Frontier Fiesta, and the MECC,” Guinn said. 

Typically, the process includes a 30-minute meeting with the guest speaker to discuss topics of conversation and basic introductions. The next meeting is the recording session which can vary from 30 minutes to several hours. 

Guinn then begins editing filler words, long pauses, and rearranging questions for a better flowing episode. The communication office then reviews the podcast and publishes it on numerous platforms like Spotify, Apple podcasts and more.

“I want to improve my science communication skills by taking a topic and condensing it into a five-minute episode that anyone, regardless of scientific background, can understand,” Guinn said. 

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