Duke Researchers Speak to Science Writers at National Conference

More than 500 attend discussion of the future of science journalism

Duke biologist Greg Wray, right, is interviewed Sunday morning after delivering a plenary talk on the genome's regulatory regions. Photo by David Jarmul

Duke University researchers were among the featured speakers this past weekend at a meeting in Raleigh of more than 500 science journalists and other communicators.

The Duke researchers discussed their work in neurobiology, medicine, particle physics and other fields at the annual conference of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW). The event at Raleigh's convention center featured more than 50 faculty experts from Duke and other North Carolina universities and research institutions, along with scientists from outside the area.

Most of the conference participants also attended a series of professional workshops on Saturday organized by the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). They discussed rapid changes under way in science journalism, such as the growth of blogs and social media, and toured local research facilities, including Duke's Lemur Center. NASW awarded its annual science-writing prizes Saturday evening during a party at Raleigh's new Nature Research Center.

Reporters from The Washington Post, NPR, National Geographic, Science Magazine and other news organizations attended the conference along with public information officers specializing in research communications for universities, government agencies and others. Also attending were students from Duke and other Triangle universities.

The conference is continuing Monday and is scheduled to conclude Tuesday with bus tours of research facilities across the state. Conference organizers, who have been tracking the path of Hurricane Sandy, scrambled on Sunday afternoon to reorganize some of the tours, such as by replacing a planned boat ride with an aquarium visit for a group scheduled to tour Duke's Marine Lab and other coastal venues.

Karl Leif Bates, director of research communications in Duke's Office of News and Communications, led a local team that organized the conference with CASW and NASW. Duke sponsored the gathering with other area universities and research institutions. The primary sponsor was the Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies in Research Triangle Park, of which Duke is a founding member.

Below: Artist Perrin Ireland created posters about Greg Wray's research and other conference presenters while they spoke. Photo by David Jarmul

Artist Perrin Ireland created posters about Greg Wray's research and other conference presenters while they spoke.