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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Science and Storytelling Collide in PhD Plus Program | Duke Today

Photo: Liz Neeley
Liz Neeley, executive director of the Story Collider podcast teaches graduate students how to include storytelling in their communications.

Liz Neeley working with graduate students on storytelling
An overnight slumber party at a science museum. Participating in a piece of peer-reviewed research as a high-schooler. An enthusiastic teacher adorning the classroom wall with a memorable piece of animal anatomy.

Conducting research isn’t always a slog through daily routines. Most every scientist has had a transformational moment—either personally or professionally—that transcends measurements, field notes and experiments. Those are the moments that can transfix an audience and make science seem more vivid and tangible then they had ever imagined.

That was the message to a room full of Duke Engineering PhD students as Liz Neeley, executive director of the popular podcast Story Collider, taught them how to work narrative into their communications.

“I thought the event was very helpful in making us think of how we narrate our scientific work, especially with the suggestion of starting and ending a narrative with an action,” said Mercy Asiedu, a graduate student in biomedical engineering. “That really keeps the audience engaged from the start, instead of just going blandly into ‘my research is so and so.’ It made me more aware of what I lacked in narration and gave me really good pointers for future scientific presentations.”

If you’ve ever heard of The Moth, you have a pretty good idea of how Story Collider works. In both series, a number of people come to the stage to tell a personal story from their lives, often evoking laughter as well as deep introspection. The difference between the two is that Story Collider features narratives from scientists.

The storytelling seminar was the capstone event this semester for Duke Engineering’s PhD Plus program—a student-led initiative that conducts workshops and connects graduate students with internship and networking opportunities for those interested in careers outside of academia. This semester focused on communications, with previous workshops on improv and science communications...

Learn more about PhD Plus at
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Source: Duke Today 

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