I finished the edits and all the various fee-paying and archiving that come along with completing a dissertation. My transcript finally reflects that I completed all the requirements … so now what? I have a research position waiting for me to start in July, but as I alluded to before, what exactly do I research?

In some ways, the possibilities are wide open. I can stick with visualizations, sure, and expand on that into animations, or continue with the in situ work in the musem. I may try to do that with the new camera system at HMSC as a remote data collector, as there is not a nearby spherical system of which I am aware in my new position.

I could also start to examine modeling, a subject that I danced around a bit during the dissertation (I had to write a preliminary exam question on how it related to my dissertation topic). Modeling, simulation, and representation is big in the Next Generation Science Standards, so there’s likely money there.

Another topic of interest dovetails with Laia’s work on public trust and Katie Woollven’s work with nature of science, broader questions of what is meant by “science literacy” and just why science is pushed so hard by proponents of education. I want to know how, when, and most importantly, why, adults search for scientific information. By understanding why people seek information, we can better understand what problems exist in accessing the types of information they need and focus our efforts. A component of this research also could explore identity of non-professionals as scientists or as capable consumers of academic science information.

Finally, I want to know how all this push toward outreach and especially toward asking professional scientists to be involved in or at least fund outreach around their work impacts their professional lives. What do scientists get out of this emphasis on outreach, if anything? I imagine there are a range of responses, from sheer aggravation and resentment to pure joy at getting to share their work. Hopefully there exists a middle ground where researchers recognize the value and even want to participate to some extent in outreach but are frustrated by feeling ill-equipped to do so. That’s where my bread and butter is – in helping them out through designing experiences, training them to help, or delivering the outreach myself, while building in research questions to advance the field at the same time.

Either way, it’s exciting! I hope to be able to blog here from time to time in the future as my work and the lab allows, though I will be officially done at OSU before my next turn to post on my research work. Thanks for listening.

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