Policy & Popcorn: “How to Communicate Science To Target Audiences (And Get Them To Pay Attention)”

About the Session
Science "on the shelf" is a lot less useful than science "in action". But for science to inform policies, affect decisions, and influence opinions, scientists must be able to communicate effectively to diverse audiences. This two-part session will focus on communicating key scientific findings to target audiences. In Part 1, Austin Brown and Hannah Safford of the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy will discuss best practices for making science clear, compelling, and accessible for knowledgeable (but non-scientific) audiences. Special attention will be given to the role of two page "policy briefs" in bridging the research-practitioner gap. In Part 2, Sallie Poggi and Melissa Blouin of the UC Davis Office of Strategic Communications, will explain strategies for increasing the visibility of scientific research using both social media and traditional media. Topics will include effective use of Twitter and LinkedIn to amplify research among professional networks, the value of op-eds, and resources that Strategic Communications offers to help promote your work.
About the Speakers

As Executive Director of the Policy Institute, Austin Brown builds strong connections between the research and policy communities at the local, state, and national levels with a focus on clean energy and sustainable transportation. Prior to joining UC Davis in June 2017, he spent nine years in Washington, DC, working for the Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and as Assistant Director for Clean Energy and Transportation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama Administration. He holds a B.S. from Harvey Mudd College and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.



Hannah Safford is a researcher with the Policy Institute and a Ph.D. student in environmental engineering, focusing on water, ecosystems, and climate. In these roles, she works to integrate the best ideas from engineering and policy into practical, scalable, and inspiring solutions. Hannah is also deeply passionate about science communication, and advises the Policy Institute on engagement and outreach. Hannah contributes to the broader community as Chair of the City of Davis Natural Resources Commission. Hannah previously served for two years as a fellow in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Obama Administration, and has also held positions at the U.S. Forest Service, the San Francisco Department of the Environment, and the San Francisco Airport. She holds a B.S.E., M.Eng, and M.P.A. from Princeton University.


Since September 2018, Melissa Lutz Blouin has led the news and media relations team at UC Davis. This team of talented and hard-working individuals provide the public and the media with the most up-to-date information about campus research, news and events through feature stories, news articles, Reddit AMAs, op-eds, UC Davis LIVE, Dateline and UC Davis Magazine, as well as through other outlets. Her team also leads crisis communications and issues management. She serves as a campus spokesperson and an advisor to administrators, faculty, staff, and department communicators across campus. Melissa has more than 20 years of communications experience at institutions of higher education. She began her career as a chemistry major, but decided that she enjoyed communicating about science more than the actual lab work. She attended the science communication program at UC Santa Cruz, then spent six years working in journalism, covering everything from living with HIV to exploring the physiology of hibernation. She founded the science and research communications program at the University of Arkansas, including a research magazine, Research Frontiers, still in publication today. She also led a team of communicators at UF Health, where she was responsible for overseeing science communications, media relations and crisis communications for the health system.


Sallie Poggi works as the Director of Social Media at the University of California, Davis where she leads the team responsible for creatively engaging audiences with the stories, relationships and people of UC Davis on social media. Executive and admissions social media also falls under her purview. Sallie’s experience in social media started in 2007, when Facebook and Twitter were just in their infancy, and bloggers had not yet conquered the Internet. She spent the next decade working at global PR firms, consulting with national and global brands to help shape some of the first social media campaigns, plans, policies and measurement approaches within grocery retail, food and wine brands. At UC Davis, together with her team, Sallie has transformed the university’s use of social media, resulting in doubling the community size of UC Davis in the first year of a new strategy and tripling its reach and number of interactions. Her motto is that social media is a team sport that takes empathy and a grounding in relationship building.