Through the HSRF fellowship, I have been getting a lot of practice describing my research to many different people. I have come up with several strategies that I tend to use, especially when describing my research to general audiences. One of the first strategies I use when talking to someone outside my field is first asking about their background. My research is based on biological concepts that are often touched on in high school biology courses, so if I know what my audience’s level of understanding is with biology, I can tailor how I describe my research. After this first question, I describe why my research is important, focusing on its significance. For my research, my general focus is elucidating mechanisms behind corneal scarring in order to develop better treatments for corneal opacities eventually. The most important thing I focus on when speaking to a general audience is checking in and seeing if there are any sources of confusion. For example, many people know what a cornea is, but if someone doesn’t know what a cornea is, I would explain that first. Focusing on the eventual outcomes as part of the conversation helps ensure that the purpose of my research is clear and accessible even to those without a strong scientific background. Addressing confusion during the conversation helps ensure clarity.
It is essential for scientific researchers to be able to talk about research to people outside of our fields. Even within science, there are so many disciplines, and everyone’s research is so specific that it can be hard to understand other labs’ research clearly. Looking forward, I plan to run a molecular research lab and treat patients. It will be essential for me to collaborate with other researchers and clinicians in order to be able to offer clinical trials. I will need to express my thoughts clearly in grant proposals and conversations with clinicians and researchers. In addition, when describing my research to my future patients, I will be required to explain my research in a simple and clear way. My patients should be able to understand the general goals of my research and, hopefully, future clinical trials, to feel confident in their treatment options and care. In conclusion, explaining my research to people outside of my specific niche will be extremely prevalent in my future career. I am very thankful for the HSRF for allowing me to get practice with this, and I hope to build on my skills throughout my future educational and professional career.