Another Look: NSC Alums Panel - SciCom beyond Stanford
[Pictured above, from left to right. Top row: Emily Polk, Madison Pobis, Emma Hutchinson. Bottom row: Devangi Vivrekar, Audrey Elliot, Mireille Bejjani.]
Last month the Notation in Science Communication hosted its first annual Alumni panel. Five former NSC students shared the different ways they’ve used science communication in their personal and professional lives and offered advice to students about the ways they might use their science communication expertise once they leave Stanford. Designed with the current PWR 99B seniors in mind, it was open to all NSC students as well as the broader community.
The event brought together alums who had worked with each of our wonderful former coordinators and co-coordinators over years (Russ Carpenter, Meg Formato, Jennifer Stonaker) and provided an exciting glimpse into the myriad opportunities a Notation in Science Communication affords students.
“It was impressive and inspiring to see these NSC alums bringing their skill and passion for science communication into meaningful work of all kinds,” said Shay Brawn. “They are clearly walking the talk!”
The event opened with Mireille Bejjani, (‘18, she/they), who is currently serving as the Energy Justice Director at Community Action Works, where she supports communities across the Northeast in fighting against polluting fossil fuel infrastructure and in overhauling the regional electric grid operator. Mireille focused on their work with communities in Western Massachusetts. They have helped stop a biomass power plant in Springfield, push back against a gas plant in Peabody, and strategize against a gas pipeline in Longmeadow. They also shared that they are the host of Community Action Works' new podcast, Stories from the Frontlines, which provides a platform for community leaders to share their personal campaign experiences. They took their first podcasting class as part of the Notation!
Audrey Elliot (‘20, she/her) followed Mireille. Audrey noted that she used her NSC portfolio in her post-Stanford job searches. After graduating, she completed a service year in AmeriCorps as a COVID-19 responder – during which time she talked with people about their concerns around COVID vaccination – and as a Cardiovascular Coordinator for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. She then shared some of her experiences as a Data Manager at DocMatter, a healthcare technology company in San Francisco. She mentioned that the NSC had helped her build the skills she needed to translate complex science for a generalist audience in each of these contexts.
Madison Pobis (‘19, she/her) brought a different perspective to the panel when she shared some stories from the frontlines of her work as the current Science Communication Fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Madison shared some of her multimedia content which is used to inform audiences about the scientific process, inspires wonder and appreciation for the ocean, and imagines creative solutions to environmental challenges. Madison told current NSC students that science communication is a growing field and that the fellowship she is doing now is just one example of the many new possibilities out there.
Following Madison was Emma Hutchinson (‘17, she/her), with tales from the Biden Administration. She is currently working as a speechwriter to Secretary Jennifer Granholm at the U.S. Department of Energy, where Emma noted she “does science communication every single day.” Emma also shared some experiences before she joined the federal government when she worked as a senior associate at Climate Nexus, helping to develop communication strategies for the climate movement and elevate climate leaders in the media.
Finally, Devangi Vivrekar (‘17, she/her) shared her experiences with science communication in her work as a mission-driven product management leader currently on the product team at Udacity, where she builds digital education platforms to train the world’s workforce in the careers of the future. She has also worked on the product teams at Dropbox and Intuit. Devangi discussed the unique obligations workers in the tech industry have to help the industry be more ethical and accountable as it innovates and shared that effective science communication is central to that effort.
“What struck me most about the panel,” remarked Christine Alfano, who along with Jenne Stonaker provided technical and administrative support for the event, “was all the different ways in which these former students integrate science communication into their lives, all day, every day. Their stories really showcased for [current NSC students] the many different paths available to them and the doors that a Notation in Science Communication can help open.”
After the panelists presented, NSC Coordinator Emily Polk moderated a lively Q and A so that students and other attendees could engage directly with the panelists.
“Our hope is that this can be an annual event,” she said. “It’s such an amazing opportunity for NSC students to get to see firsthand the value and impact the NSC has on students’ lives once they leave Stanford, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for former students to stay connected to the program!”
Interested in finding out about other upcoming NSC events? Please go to the Notation in Science Communication events page or contact the NSC Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. The NSC team would love to hear from you.