Communicating My Research – Abhinav Pillai

  1. When talking to a general audience, I try to limit neuroscience-specific jargon and to clearly explain the significance of my research so that general audience members can better understand my reasoning. For example, understanding that treatments for psychiatric disorders function by increasing or decreasing function in certain brain areas allows others to better understand the process of our psychiatric research: monitoring brain activity during certain behaviors linked to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), then altering activity of said brain region to establish a correlational relationship with the onset of OCD. Additionally, working in a mouse lab, it’s important to explain the purpose of our research and how mice are imperative in establishing an understanding of the neural pathways implicated in OCD, as undermining their importance can potentially cause audience members to view our methods as abusive or irresponsible. Some simple strategies to effectively communicate to a wide variety of people is to start off simple in our abstracts and to concisely explain why we study specific brain areas and to present an overview of our data without the use of much field-specific terminology. As we get deeper into the paper with mentions of results, methods, and so-on, we can get more specific with our language since people who will benefit more from reading those areas will likely be  well-versed in our field. Pacing is also important, as going too fast increases the chances of audience members being left behind when they enter an academic pitfall. Allowing them the opportunity to ask questions throughout a presentation will let those who may have become slightly confused catch up, as well as keeping everyone on the same page in terms of what we are trying to convey to the audience.
  2. When considering my current professional goals, I will definitely have to interact with a variety of individuals in clinical settings, since patients and their families can come from a variety of backgrounds. Depending on the situation, various MDs usually have to interact with each other such as when multiple surgeons work together in the OR to complete different parts of a complex surgery. In that scenario, being efficient and fluent in each other’s vocabularies as well as in communicating the patient’s condition is crucial in being successful. MDs may also have to communicate with clinical researchers, so understanding what others need in order to do their jobs without sacrificing the quality of your own work is crucial. 

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