The Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (VASEM)
Virtual Summit on Building the Public Trust in Science

October 25, 2021
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (ET)

Our society is divided regarding several key science-driven topics like vaccines, climate change, and more. How can we help rebuild trust in science, establish confidence in the content, and create a capacity for critical thinking?

This summit is designed for those communicating about science-driven topics. Together we will discuss some of the polarizing topics and work to determine the best ways to communicate the message so that we can build public trust in science.

Summit activities will be split into morning and afternoon sessions.

Morning Session
9:00 AM – 11:45 AM (ET)

  • 9:30 AM – Morning panel: How do we capture peoples’ attention and prevent turning an audience off before hearing the message? Join us for a discussion with several experts skilled at communicating science to the general public. Panelists include:
    • Dr. John Almarode, Associate Professor at James Madison University and best-selling author
    • Cary Funk, Director of Science and Society Research at the Pew Research center
    • Bob Holsworth, Managing Partner of DecideSmart and the Founding Director of the Center for Public Policy and the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University
    • Frank Niepold, NOAA Action for Climate Empowerment National Focal Point for the United States and Climate Education Senior Program Manager and Coordinator.
  • 10:45 AM – Keynote speaker: Sheril Kirshenbaum, NPR contributor, co-author of Unscientific America, noted science communicator, and public speaker.

11:45 AM – 1:15 PM (ET)

Afternoon Session
1:15 PM – 4:00 PM (ET)

  • 1:15 PM – Set Up and Afternoon break-out sessions: Three afternoon breakout sessions will focus on how to communicate about three polarizing topics in science: climate change, vaccines, and energy. A scientist and a media/communicator will speak in each session moderated by a VASEM member. This format provides two different perspectives on approaching the topics and relaying the information to the general public.
    • Climate change session speakers
      • Jon Goodall, Professor of Civil Engineering, UVa – Moderator
      • Jeremy Hoffman, Lead Scientist at the Science Museum of Virginia
      • Elliot Robinson, News Director at Virginia Public Media
    • Vaccine session speakers
      • Richard Guerrant, Professor of International Health, UVa – Moderator
      • Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center
      • Dr. Pranay Sinha, Infectious Diseases Physician and TB Researcher (Epidemiology, Decision Sciences, & Health Economics) at Boston University Medical Center
    • Energy session speakers
      • Lance Collins, VP and Executive Director, Innovation Campus, VT – Moderator
      • Juan Conde, retired WRIC Channel 8 News Anchor
      • David Roop, Principal Consultant at DWR Associates, LLC
  • 3:00 PM – Keynote speaker: Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s Vaccine Coordinator and Director of the Richmond City and Henrico Health Departments.

The summit is open to anyone charged with communication about science topics. It is free to attend, but registration is required. Click below to register.

Partners in this initiative include the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine; Virginia Department of Education; the Virginia Secretary of Education’s Office through Virginia STEM; Virginia Public Media; CodeVA; Virginia Press Association; Science Debate; and the Science Museum of Virginia.