Friday, June 13, 2014

Internship Spotlight: Jillian Leonard

Three Countries, One Internship
Communicating Science in Canada, Austria and Italy

Sudbury is approximately 2100km from the Atlantic Ocean. It is 3800km from the Pacific Ocean and 700km from the Arctic Ocean (if we’re calling James Bay the Arctic Ocean). My internship with the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water Column Observatory (EMSO) is based in Sudbury, but it still keeps me close to the ocean, gleefully communicating the importance of marine research.

EMSO is a consortium of 13 countries in the European union with observatories scattered throughout Europe from the Arctic to the Black Sea. The information collected at these laboratories ranges from seismic and physical data to acoustic readings contributing to marine mammal research. This varies based on the primary research goals of each country, but combined will help us understand the relationship between the atmosphere, geosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere.

Although it would be a dream to spend time in all thirteen countries, my travels with EMSO involved just two: Austria and Italy.  

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) regularly holds their general assembly in the capital city of Vienna, Austria. I was lucky enough to be a part of this year’s event as a member of the EMSO team. Over 10,000 people attended the conference, representing every branch of the Earth-Ocean sciences.

While I did get to listen to some of the many interesting seminars, my main role at EGU was to chat with conference-goers at the EMSO exhibit. In the weeks leading up to the conference I prepared two short videos using footage provided by EMSO’s partner institutions, which were played on a TV in the background of our booth.  Meanwhile, the dynamic personalities of EMSO charmed and informed the masses. Overall it was an amazing experience where I met some pretty incredible researchers and learned more about the history and future plans of EMSO.

EMSO’s interim office is currently hosted by the Istituto Nazionale de Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) in Rome, so after a busy week in Vienna, I headed to Italy to meet these EMSO team members in person. As a new and evolving organization, their focus is currently on developing and implementing a communication plan. The things I learned in Vienna combined with the interviews I had with EMSO members in Rome gave me all the material I needed to prepare a communication map and strategy for future internal and external communication.

During one of my meetings in Rome, I met with a geophysicist who is a scientist with EMSO. He told me: “statistics is truly the common language that links scientists”. An insightful statement, but EMSO’s goals are even more amazing and much more challenging. They are using science as the common language to link different research institutions and to a larger extent, different nations. If 13 nations with unique languages, cultures and histories can be joined by science, then there is hope for scientists in other countries around the world. 

-Jillian Leonard, SciComm '14
 

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