On Tuesday about 40 people enjoyed an absolutely stellar example of science communication from Dr. Jay Cullen, who is a chemical oceanographer at the University of Victoria. Dr. Cullen is part of the UVic Speakers’ Bureau, and he gives presentations about his research on detecting radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster here in sea water and salmon from the west coast of Canada, including Victoria. We brought him over on the M/V Coho for our Speaker Series.
Since we have so many guests ask us about Fukushima’s impacts on, well, just about everything in the ocean, it seemed like it would be a very popular topic. And yet, it drew 20% fewer attendees than the seaweed-focused talk a month earlier. Perhaps everyone had another commitment on Tuesday, or many people already believe they know enough about the topic. But the fascinating part of the talk for me was the methodology used to assess the risk, and getting to talk directly to the scientist conducting the study.
Dr. Cullen was authentic, approachable, and took everyone’s questions seriously. He was well versed on the details and variables of his topic, including not only what his lab was finding, but also what his colleagues were studying as far as the impact of the radiation in Japan itself. He took great pains to distill some complicated content (for example, explaining measurement units some of us may never have seen before – like bequerels) into a very understandable, but not in any way dumbed-down, language. I believe many people came away from the event with a better understanding of the low personal risk of being impacted by Fukushima, as well as an appreciation for Dr. Cullen’s research process.
This is why Feiro is co-hosting the Celebration of Science events this week with Olympic Climate Action. The opportunity to talk with a scientist about her or his research can make an enormous difference to our understanding. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t realize that scientists live and work side-by-side with us in this community. They study all manner of things, from bees and salmon to seismology and energy production. Starting on Saturday and continuing into next week, you will have the opportunity to talk to a scientist, to hear about the work that’s being done here, and to celebrate the positive influences that science research has brought to our lives. It would be a huge loss to our community, and to Feiro, if funding for science and education gets cut from the federal budget. I hope you will take a moment to celebrate its value to our community.
Saturday’s Event Info: http://feiromarinelifecenter.org/event/celebration-of-science/
Science Cafe Series next week: http://feiromarinelifecenter.org/event/science-cafe-series/
Next Speaker Series talk (May 16): http://feiromarinelifecenter.org/event/speaker-series-rockfish-recovery-in-puget-sound/
Yours in curiosity and research,
Feiro Executive Director