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Former CDD Fellow & Research Assistant Wins NSF Grant

Former CDD Fellow & Research Assistant Wins NSF Grant

Sara Drury is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Director of the Democracy and Public Discourse Initiative at Wabash University.

Sara A. Mehltretter Drury, 2009-2010 CDD Dissertation Fellow and 2008-2009 CDD Research Assistant, has won a $208,954 National Science Foundation grant. The grant was awarded to Sara, currently Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at Wabash University, and her co-investigator, Laura Wysocki, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Wabash University, for their project “Encouraging Science Communication in the Wabash College Chemistry Department.”

The grant project will address the problem of chemistry majors who are very well trained in communicating with other chemists but who struggle to explain their work to scientists in other fields, other disciplinary communities, and the wider public. The project will incorporate new pedagogical activities across the Wabash chemistry curriculum to give chemistry majors at all stages in their education opportunities to practice effective science communication. One activity, for example, will ask students to translate their work from highly technical language into prose that members of the public can easily understand. In addition to improving the communication skills of chemistry majors, the grant project will weave science communication activities into introductory courses so that non-science majors will leave Wabash as scientifically literate citizens.

Sara cites the conversations and activities that the CDD sponsors as important models for her work. During her time as the CDD Research Assistant, Sara saw first-hand how important public engagement work is for the academy. The CDD, Sara explains, helped her learn how to “talk with” the public about her research as opposed to merely “talking at” people outside academia.