Two MSU students and one staff member have won awards from the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society. Their work is being recognized for advancing the translation of research for the public good and creating societal impacts either by engaging the public in the research process itself or by complementary activities such as science communication and educational outreach.
Chelsie Boodoo and Daniel Puentes Receive ARIS Impact Innovation Award
Chelsie Boodoo, a doctoral student in biosystems and agricultural engineering and a digital content creator for the MSU Science Festival, and Daniel Puentes, a doctoral student in physics at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, received an ARIS Impact Innovation Award for their collaboration to found MSU SciComm and “The Sci Files” podcast. MSU SciComm is a student-run organization that assists MSU students in developing their capacity to communicate complex scientific topics in clear and engaging ways and engage with the public around science. MSU SciComm hosts an annual Science Art Exhibition (held virtually in 2020), a blog and other events and activities in science art, writing and policy.
Boodoo and Puentes also launched “The Sci-Files” podcast in 2019, a weekly show that is posted online and airs on MSU student radio station WDBM on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. “The Sci-Files” won first place for college radio talk shows at the 2020 Michigan Association of Broadcasters Awards.
“My passion for science communications has driven me to find unconventional and inspiring ways to share science stories and feature up-and-coming student researchers,” Boodoo said. “I attribute much of my storytelling skills as the digital content creator for the MSU Science Festival to my various experiences with researchers. By sitting down and learning from some of MSU’s greatest research minds, I have learned a great deal in creating relevant and essential science content for the science festival.”
“Chelsie and Daniel are models of so much that makes us so proud of our Spartan graduate community,” said Thomas Jeitschko, dean of the graduate school at MSU. “They’ve combined a passion for rigorous research with a talent for communicating about their important work to the public in a creative and engaging way. With MSU SciComm, they are also helping empower their fellow students. It’s a great pleasure to see them recognized for their dedication and ingenuity.”
Zachary Constan Receives ARIS Impact Goals Award
Zachary Constan, outreach coordinator for the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and FRIB, received an ARIS Impact Goals Award for engaging the public, generating enthusiasm and learning among young people for scientific careers, and building innovative collaborations that cross disciplines to illustrate and translate the power of research in physics and other areas to the public. In partnership with volunteer faculty members, MSU students, public residents, and teachers around the region, he has developed and conducted facility tours, summer programs for teachers and students, workshops and curricula for K-12 students and their teachers, presentations for science festivals, and many other activities.
“Over 4,000 people visit the laboratory each year for an in-person tour. Additional guests participate in our numerous outreach activities. Zach is the single outreach coordinator for the laboratory. Even after 15 years, I’m always impressed by his unique energy when he interacts with our visitors,” said Thomas Glasmacher, FRIB laboratory director. “Recently, Zach has been a key player in a new collaboration with Lansing’s Impression 5 science museum. Zach and the rest of the laboratory’s outreach committee worked closely with the I-5 team to create hands-on activities that were approachable, interesting, and scientifically accurate. Zach’s contributions were paramount.”
Laurie Van Egeren, interim associate provost for university outreach and engagement, said that “Constan shines as an exemplary and imaginative communicator of meaningful programming. The depth and breadth of his work speak to his commitment to helping the public understand and love the study of physics as much as he does. He is a marvelous, inventive colleague and a critical part of MSU and its land-grant mission.”
NSF is one of the largest funders of science in the U.S. Each proposal submitted to NSF is evaluated on two criteria: The intellectual merit, or science, and its broader impacts, or benefit to society. To underscore the importance of the broader impacts of research criterion, the NSF awarded a $5.2 million grant in 2018 to fund ARIS. The ARIS Center, housed at the University of Missouri, works with scientists and engagement practitioners to build capacity, advance scholarship, grow partnerships and provide resources to help these partners engage with and demonstrate the impact of research in their communities and society. Institutional partners include Michigan State University and nine other universities.
The ARIS awards recognize researchers and practitioners who are undertaking exemplary work in the societal impact of research. The awards will be presented at the 2021 Virtual ARIS Summit, May 10-13, 2021.