Science POP at the CRCHUM: Science Stories for Everyone

- 6 min
Science POP

As part of the first edition of the Science POP science communication contest to be held at the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM) on April 15, our students and postdoctoral fellows will each share a 5-minute science story in layman's terms. 

Open to the public, this free event will be held on the premises of the CRCHUM from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This is a great opportunity to meet our new generation of scientists, ask them questions and talk to them about how science impacts our lives.  

The competition will be followed by a conference given by Yanick Villedieu, the former host of the radio show “Les Années Lumière” (Radio-Canada), and a cocktail reception. 

There is limited admission and registration is required to attend the event.  

Getting The Conversation Started 

A Quebec-wide initiative proposed by the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) and powered by Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Santé, Science POP is aimed at promoting dialogue between science and society. 

At the CRCHUM, researcher Nathalie Grandvaux, Associate Scientific Director–Student and Postdoctoral Affairs, is managing the organization of the event, along with her project manager Hana Maalaoui. 

In an interview, the researcher reminded us of the critical role of science popularization in better explaining research to people of all ages to help them appreciate its benefits. 

Nathalie Grandvaux’s voice cut through the deep darkness of the pandemic. Not a whisper, but rather a strong and reassuring voice that made its way to the ears of the public. 

Time and again, in the Canadian media, in panel discussions with citizens or in meetings with schoolchildren, her messages, marked by clear and understandable language, managed to convince Canadians.    

A science communicator was born! 

Science isn’t finished until it’s communicated, said Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Q. In your opinion, why is holding an event like this at the CRCHUM important for the greater CRCHUM and CHUM community?  

A. I believe that it is essential for our students and postdoctoral fellows, who are training at the Research Centre, to be scientist-citizens rather than scientists working only in their ecosystem. 

Our institution is funded mostly by public dollars. We are therefore responsible and duty-bound to communicate our research results and to be accountable to the public, because they are the ones financing this scientific work.  

In this respect, the Science POP event allows our new generation of scientists to practise science popularization and prepares them to make their research projects accessible by using language that everyone can understand.  

Q. Why has it become essential for today’s new generation of scientists to acquire scientific communication skills? 

A. Today, in universities and research centres, we are doing a good job of training our students to communicate with other scientists. And, although the research community has fairly recently become aware that it had to be much more active in the public sphere, the ability to communicate to the public still isn’t a skill developed in all university programs.  

For now, we have to make sure that our student and postdoctoral community has access to this type of training during their university career. Science POP is one way to introduce them to science popularization–right on the premises, at the CRCHUM, where the research results are generated.  

It also allows them to consider science communication as a possible career. 

Q. In these times of disinformation and fake news, can our young researchers really choose to not have a presence in the public sphere? To not dialogue with society? 

A. I don’t think so. We have a responsibility as citizen-scientists to take part in this public debate, to be sure that the information circulating in the public sphere is correct, relevant, evidence-based and critically analyzed. 

Disinformation is a plague, but, collectively we have the means to change things and ensure that different voices are heard so that society progresses in the right direction. Of course, this applies only so long as our words and actions are based on conclusive evidence.  

Q. This free event is open to the public. What would you tell them to convince them to attend the CRCHUM’s Science POP competition?   

A. It’s really a unique opportunity to meet the next generation of scientists, the true lifeblood of our laboratories, to get to know them and chat with them about their research projects. 

I encourage the public to come with their children, who may be inspired by our young scientists and see them as models, close to their sociocultural contexts. It would allow these visitors to imagine themselves in similar positions. 

It’s also a good way to go on an exploratory journey to the centre of human disease and to discover, in the downtown area, Montreal’s largest French-language research centre.  

To encourage our younger generation of scientists in view of the provincial grand finale to be held at the IRCM in Montreal on May 27 and 28, 2023, please register!

The finalists of our competition will face off against the finalists of 14 other participating institutions in Quebec for a chance to win prizes such as the $1,000 Chief Scientist’s Award and the $250 People’s Choice Award.

Science POP at the CRCHUM: Science Stories for Everyone