A poster session for the public

Cornell University's Center for Life Science Enterprise holds a poster session each year for its grant recipients as a requirement of the funding process. This year the poster session had a different spin: Scientists presented their grant-funded research to a lay audience in the form of a contest with a handsome prize and judged by community members.

Earlier this year, Geoffrey Coates, Cornell University professor of chemistry and chemical biology, received a $10,000 award for his poster describing a new route for synthesizing polyesters from renewable resources. But it wasn't this novel science that made him a prizewinner; it was his ability to communicate the science to a lay audience of business and industry leaders, community members, and retailers, many of whom did not have a scientific background.

"I am a strong believer that the taxpayers who support our science have a right to know how it could be of benefit to them," said Coates.

All too often scientists are accused of being too busy, too convoluted, or too uninterested in public outreach for journalists to easily extract pertinent information about their research. The Cornell University public science symposium proved otherwise.

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