The EU project FETFX has completed its Journalist-in-the-lab programme last 24-26 February 2020. The initiative, designed by FETFX partner Fondazione iCons, allowed science communication students get hands on with content creation at the ICMAB and the ICN2 with researchers working on FET European projects.
Students of science communication got the chance to learn from experienced science journalists and hone their skills in the first ‘Journalist-in-the-Lab’ initiative. Launched and managed by Fondazione iCons in the framework of the European project FETFX, from February 24-26 the students toured two top institutions conducting Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) research in Barcelona: the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB) and the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2). The residency gave them the possibility to conduct interviews, take pictures and shoot videos for preparing new FETFX stories on the FET research projects at the host institutions.
The Journalist-in-the-lab initiative was conceived to give students completing graduate courses in science communication the chance to interact with scientists and create content for a real science website – that could be crucial in gaining experience and confidence in scientific publishing. Fondazione iCons launched a call for applications from students all over Europe. Finally the two candidates were selected: Arianna Richiutti and Giulia Fabriani, who are completing their Master programme in Science Communication at SISSA and La Sapienza University in Trieste and Rome, respectively.
“We are happy that this new initiative aimed at increasing the skills of future young journalists and raising awareness on the importance of public science communication among researchers was implemented in the framework of FETFX. Translating complex, high-risk and visionary research into universally comprehensible information for the public is a very challenging testbed”, says Elisabeth Schmid, Director at Fondazione ICONS.
Journalist-in-the-lab was hosted at the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and here at he Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC). The initiative started with experienced science journalist and FETFX Editorial Manager from Fondazione iCons, Arran Frood, delivering a communication training on Science Story-telling. This set the scene and encouraged the 20-strong group of researchers and young journalists to think in terms of effective storytelling, not just the scientific details, to create more memorable and engaging content on their visionary, groundbreaking research.
Over the next two days, the students mixed with researchers from four FET projects spread across the institutes, collating material to make stories. At ICN2, the BrainCom project which seeks to utilise high-density cortical implants for rehabilitation of speech using brain-computer interfaces showed students the cleanroom and even offered the opportunity for them to try out the outfits. Also at ICN2, the TOCHA project personnel explained their work in developing novel topological channels for information transfer and quantum metrology.
Here at ICMAB-CSIC, the CARBAT (CAlcium Rechargeable BAttery Technology) and E-MAGIC (European Magnesium Interactive Battery Community) projects showed the students the latest developments in new battery technology, including full lab tours with M. Rosa Palacín, PI of these two FET projects. “We were very happy to host the two students of the Journalist-in-the-lab initiative. So glad to talk with them about our projects. We are really looking forward to seeing the outputs” says M. Rosa Palacín after the FETFX experience.
The students are currently working on their science stories featuring the four projects they interacted with, which will soon be published on the fetfx.eu website. But these stories will not be the only heritage from Journalist-in-the-lab. Through this experience, Giulia and Arianna have learned key lessons for their future careers in science communication. As they told to FETFX, Arianna learned “to be braver in science communication and not to be afraid to explore new research fields that are far from my knowledge”, and Giulia “that an effective communication could really be a bridge between the scientific community and the general public.”
See here the trailer of the FETFX Journalist-in-the-lab initiative:
And here the comments of the participants after the FETFX immersion: