PacSci Perspectives

Meet A Scientist: Accessible Research

by | Jul 26, 2016

The complex language of scientific discourse often makes subjects like cancer research and climate change daunting to the general public—no matter what your age. These conversations are critical: as Kristin Anderson (who works at Fred Hutchinson in tumor immunotherapy research) points out, these topics are “discussed in the news… but most people don’t have a trusted person they can go to with questions.” Meet a Scientist is a three-hour event that allows Pacific Science Center patrons (free for Members and included with the price of admission) the opportunity to have these conversations with various scientists in different fields in an environment that is open to inquiry.

Not only are participants thrilled to have a chance to have their questions answered, on their level, it benefits the scientists, too: Anderson says that one of her favorite things about Meet a Scientist is having “conversations that lead visitors [to] ‘light-bulb’ moments-those times when something that didn’t make sense before finally clicks.” The complicated research she does (which involves genetically engineering T cells to kill cancer cells) is difficult to understand—and the scientific language can get mistranslated in the news and social media. She strives to be a reliable, accessible resource. She both builds on common knowledge and uses a game-like activity to help participants learn and remember complex concepts. “I love it when visitors have so much fun they come back to play again!” Guests love her hands-on approach, and walk away with something more.

Pacific Science Center is dedicated to making knowledge accessible—regardless of educational background or age. This program exclusively features Pacific Science Center Science Communication Fellows. Fellows are local scientists (and science-based professionals) trained specifically in communication with the public, while also passionate about sharing their love of science with you. Fellows don’t just want to educate: they want to inspire. Anderson loves to talk about why she studies T cells; she was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in graduate school, and this field of study saved her life. “I knew at that point I wanted to use my skills and background to do the same thing for other people.” Here, science is more than abstract, and Anderson does more than teach: she inspires.

Meet a Scientist meets from 1-4 p.m. on specific Saturdays in Ackerley Family Exhibit Gallery. Different weeks feature different fellows—each with a specific activity designed to teach you about their field of study. Visit our Meet a Scientist site to learn more.