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PEWS Graduate Student Affiliates: What’s Next?

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Congratulations to our first cohort of PEWS Graduate Student Affiliates to graduate from UC! Learn about their time at UC, their reflections on their involvement with PEWS, and what’s next for them after graduation.

Meg Corcoran, Geosciences PhD

I started my journey at UC in the fall of 2019, working on biogeochemistry research focused on developing tools to study past climate systems. I use stable isotopes and biomarkers, or molecular fossils, to understand how climate change will affect the hydrological cycle in the future. I was drawn to UC because of the opportunities to pursue my passion for science outreach and bridging the gap between scientists and the public alongside my research.

In my second semester at UC, I enrolled in the PEWS Public Engagement with Science course. In that course, I worked with graduate students from other disciplines and the Cincinnati Nature Center to develop a poster contest for K-12 students, encouraging students to plant native. Then, during the 2021-2022 school year, I served as the PEWS Social Media and Web Coordinator, managing the PEWS website, writing PEWS News posts, and maintaining the PEWS social media accounts. In 2022, I became one of the first PEWS Graduate Student Affiliates, attending PEWS events and continuing to connect UC researchers with PEWS. Working with PEWS during my time at UC allowed me to pursue my interest in science communications and has shaped my career plans. I hope to help make science, and in particular climate change research, more accessible for the general public.

In addition to my involvement with PEWS, I also established, secured funding for, and organized a science outreach program at the Northside Farmer’s Market in Cincinnati, called Science Harvest. The goal of this monthly program is to have conversations with locals about the research happening in the Geosciences Department at UC.

I defended my dissertation in February and graduated with my PhD in Geosciences in April. I am grateful to the many friends and role models I have met along my graduate school journey at UC. I am excited to share that I will be joining the PEWS leadership team this summer as a PEWS Postdoctoral Fellow. In this role, I will be able to continue to work to share science with the public. I am looking forward to fostering collaborations between scientists at UC, community partners, and the public in the next year.

Andrew Evans, Philosophy PhD

I came to the University of Cincinnati for my PhD because of the interdisciplinary nature of the Philosophy Department. Philosophy students often take classes in other departments and sometimes pursue a master’s degree in a different field. A goal of mine was to finish graduate school with the ability to either teach at a university or work as psychotherapist, and I was able to accomplish this by completing an MA in Mental Health Counseling alongside my PhD in Philosophy. 

During my time at UC, I found several other avenues for interdisciplinary inquiry, and working with the Center for Public Engagement with Science was the most impactful one. In my first year, I began attending a group called Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science (or SEPOS) organized by PEWS Director Angela Potochnik; this group evolved into the current PEWS Research and Discussion Group. This provided an opportunity to talk to other academics about how science and philosophy of science might better engage with community concerns. Over the years, the group provided opportunities for me to collaborate on interdisciplinary research projects on science education outreach and participatory research.  

In the spring of 2020, I worked as a graduate assistant for the center under the guidance of Angela and PEWS Associate Director Melissa Jacquart. I helped to plan the NSF-funded Public Engagement with Science workshop that took place online in May 2021, after being postponed due to the pandemic. During the workshop, I helped facilitate sessions and provided social media support. This led to my work on a coauthored short book, A Guide for Academic Researchers Conducting Science Outreach, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press in the Elements in Public Engagement with Science series. Then, Angela and I coauthored chapter called “Theorizing Participatory Research,” which is forthcoming in an edited volume.

Angela’s and Melissa’s mentorship had a major influence on my time at UC. Both have provided me with not just professional and scholarly guidance but also support through personal difficulties. I have had countless meetings with each of them on everything from center activities to teaching techniques and job market advice. I am lucky to have had such dedicated, thoughtful, and generous professors in my corner.  

I recently passed my dissertation defense, and I graduate from UC this summer. In the fall I will begin work as a visiting assistant professor at the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values at the University of Notre Dame—a center that has some similarities with PEWS. I believe that my time working with PEWS was a major factor in securing this position. I look forward to continuing to work with PEWS in whatever capacity is possible going forward.  

Kat Timm, Anthropology MA

My passions lie at the intersection of art, culture, and community, and the applied interdisciplinary track of the University of Cincinnati’s MA in Anthropology program felt like a great opportunity to explore these. Alongside my anthropology coursework, I created educational programming materials during my remote internship at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and completed a graduate certificate in Public Art & Placemaking through the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. My time at UC gave me opportunities to dig into multimodal communication, cultural analysis, and community building.

In the spring and summer of 2022, I served as a PEWS Graduate Sustainability Fellow. In this role, I facilitated an interdisciplinary group of graduate students interested in sustainability, co-moderated a panel on Careers in Public Engagement with Science, and designed flyers for PEWS marketing. Under the warm mentorship of Dr. Melissa Jacquart and Dr. Angela Potochnik, I grew my skills in project management, public programming, and leadership. 

When I first began attending the weekly PEWS Research and Discussion meetings, I was very intimidated! I was a lone anthropology student in a room full of philosophers, and I felt like an amateur surrounded by professionals. But I loved the discussion topics about how science works and how to share it with the public, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to learn from so many accomplished educators, researchers, and thinkers. The casually supportive energy of the group encouraged me to continue attending, and by the time I graduated a year and a half later, I had no doubt that I belonged in that room. I’m forever grateful to PEWS for enriching my studies in public art and culture, connecting me more deeply to the UC community, and helping me build my confidence as an academic and professional.

With my Master’s in Anthropology finished, I plan to take a break from academia for a few years before pursuing my MFA in visual art. My attention now turns to building a career in informal education, community development, or public engagement, helping to ignite people’s curiosity and support their creativity. I’m excited to have more time to dedicate to my painting and aerial arts practices this summer, and look forward to hiking, camping, and kayaking in Ohio’s wild places. Over the long-term, my partner and I dream of owning a nature camp in the woods where we can spend our days birdwatching, howling at the moon, and helping people connect with the natural world. 

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