Advocacy and Outreach

Taking research into the community 

In 2018, ARVO began another year-long Science Communication Training Fellowship (SciCommTF) to teach Members-in-Training how to become more effective communicators of vision research. As a requirement for the Fellowship, each participant must develop and implement an outreach activity that teaches the community about vision science. Below, some of the 2018 Science Communication Training Fellows share their outreach projects and how they brought vision science education into their communities.

Lisa Riedmayr
PhD Candidate
Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences

Widely distributed myths can take root in the minds of the public before science has the chance to. Riedmayr is a leader in the fight against incomprehension, combating lies and twisted truths with proven facts to an audience of 200 teenage students. She increased the impact of her session by asking her audience, which she split into ten small groups, what their understanding of some scientific truths and myths are, including those revolving vaccinations. “I chose high school students aged 14 to 16 as my target group, as they are old enough to grasp complex concepts, but have not been exposed to many prejudices about science yet.”

Ana Vega Carreiro de Freitas, MD
Ophthalmology Resident
São Paulo Quarteirão da Saúde

An informed patient can assist their doctor in making the best decision possible, especially when certain environmental, economic or health conditions may make one treatment favorable over another for that particular patient. Dr. Freitas set out to inform the public on a new way for doctors to treat cataracts at home by setting up a booth in her hospital of residency. She educated patients through using fish and pig eye models, a 1:10 scale plastic eye and a digital microscope camera that would be used in such a procedure. “During 2018, I have learned some hints and methods on how to expose my research with the Science Communication Training Fellowship and I started applying it.”

Neeru Vallabh, MD
Glaucoma Research Fellow
University of Liverpool

Scientific advancements are being made every day, to the excitement of researchers worldwide. How do we transfer that information to the public? Dr. Vallabh presented a lecture to a Glaucoma support group, which was comprised of both glaucoma patients and family members of those afflicted by the disease. Dr. Vallabh gave an overview of glaucoma, as well as its risk factors and how to manage the condition. She then spoke on current research being performed at the University of Liverpool. A question and answer segment followed the presentation, which lasted 20 minutes.

Suraj Upadhyaya, OD, PhD
Graduate Research Assistant
University of Houston College of Optometry

Dr. Upadhyaya’s research goal was to find the best way to communicate his research to a diverse audience. After constructing a presentation of his work in layman’s terms, he rehearsed his delivery to his colleagues, allowing him to refine his lecture based off of their feedback. By beginning his lecture to hospital technicians, staff, students and residents with the importance of basic science and then slowly building into his personal research, he was able to effectively communicate his message by connecting to his audience. In the future, he wishes to have 3D models at his disposal. “Being part of the Science communication training fellowship has changed the way I communicate science with scientific and nonscientific people. I believe that a researcher without communication skills is like a soldier without a sword.”