Communicating Developmental Biology Research


An important part of research is being able to communicate your research, not only to those in your field, but to everyday individuals who are curious about the research you conduct! Over the course of HSRF, I have learned many strategies to better explain my research to someone who may know nothing about my field.

One strategy is to limit the amount of jargon I use; my research is very niche as not many know about the biology behind reproductive development, and even less people know or have even heard of the model organism I use for my research, C. elegans. Therefore, in order to communicate my research, I can use minimal jargon and instead use more commonly-used words.

Another strategy is to use analogies in my explanations. Especially in scientific research, analogies are a great way to compare scientific vocabulary to everyday words. For example, I can use the analogy of a freight train to describe my research, which studies the effects of the gene C44C10.5 in C. elegans when mutated. Like boxcars of a train, genes help comprise an organism’s genome. Boxcars carry supplies and important instructions, but if a boxcar goes missing or loses its supplies, it can impact the functioning of the train. This is analogous to genes, which code for gene products that organisms use but can have drastic effects on the organism’s health if altered!

Finally, I can practice communicating my research to people of all different backgrounds. I may be able to use more jargon when talking to someone with a biology background, but to someone who knows nothing about my field, I should use more accessible words. To better explain my work, I can talk to many different people and learn how to improve my communication skills.

One day, I hope to pursue medical school as well as conduct clinical research; pursuing these goals inherently require for one to communicate with audiences of all fields. For instance, if I become a physician, I will be talking to patients. I would be interacting with people of all different fields and would have to clearly explain diagnoses and procedures in a way that is understandable, which is important because everyone should be able understand their medical history! Furthermore, when conducting clinical research, I would be interacting with research participants and writing grants. For this, I would be communicating with the public, nonscientists, and government programs, among others. Therefore, it’s important to be able to communicate one’s research so that it’s easily accessible by all.

Image of C. elegans taken from a microscope.

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