Our lab has a long-standing tradition of excellence in outreach, education, and inclusivity.

We encourage, support, and mentor students that are often underrepresented and underserved in STEM. We also collaborate with artists and designers to develop impactful outreach activities that engage the public and apply best practices in science communication. Learn more about our projects below.

 
 Graduate students William Shoenberger and Leticia Classen Rodriguez provide training to students and citizens participating in our annual BioBlitz in Forest Park; St. Louis, MO. The event teaches citizens to collect data on vertebrate and invertebrate biodiversity in the park.

Graduate students William Shoenberger and Leticia Classen Rodriguez provide training to students and citizens participating in our annual BioBlitz in Forest Park; St. Louis, MO. The event teaches citizens to collect data on vertebrate and invertebrate biodiversity in the park.

 
 
 
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Goals for our outreach

Our outreach activities are loosely organized around three main goals: 1) promoting diversity and inclusivity, 2) incorporating art into science, and 3) spreading science literacy. We make progress towards these goals through a diversity of outreach projects, including public talks, art installations, zoo exhibits, BioBlitzes, and lab activities related to women and minorities in STEM.

Promoting diversity & inclusivity

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Scientific excellence is achieved not only by synthesizing across diverse questions, organisms, and approaches, but also by collaborating with people of diverse backgrounds. Our lab is dedicated to creating a culture of inclusion through our outreach activities as well as structured lab discussions on diversity in STEM. 

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Art is a fantastic way to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in science.  We have developed a long-standing collaboration with sound artist Stephen Vitiello, with whom we have worked on a number of projects centered around bringing vibrational communication and love of insects to the public.

 Photo by Ray Meibaum/Saint Louis Zoo

Photo by Ray Meibaum/Saint Louis Zoo

We are a passionate about sharing the findings of our work, as well as our love for science and discovery, with a broad audience. We have developed and collaborated on a variety of educational tools, ranging from large-scale, interactive exhibits, to group excursions and public presentations in classrooms and libraries.

 
 Artist Stephen Vitiello presents our collaboration on the art of sound vibrations at the Moss Arts Center.  Click here to learn more about the Sound Art project.

Artist Stephen Vitiello presents our collaboration on the art of sound vibrations at the Moss Arts Center. Click here to learn more about the Sound Art project.

 

We believe that science should be approachable, accessible, shared with everyone.

want to collaborate on an outreach project? Let's chat!

 

Our lab is dedicated to increasing and supporting diversity in STEM, not only because we are a diverse group ourselves, but also because we have experienced excellence in science and discovery achievable only through diverse thinking and perspectives. We prioritize outreach activities that target under-served and underrepresented groups, and we are commited to generating ideas and approaches for encouraging and retaining diversity in STEM.

 

 
 
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Readings and Discussion

We are developing a weekly series of readings and discussion topics to explore the VALUES, ISSUES, and SOLUTIONS for increasing and retaining diversity in STEM. If you have suggestions for readings/activities, please let us know!

Week 1

Overview: What is diversity in STEM and why is it important?

  1. "Diversity in STEM: What It Is and Why It Matters" by Kenneth Gibbs, Jr. for Scientific American (September 10, 2014).

Week 2

Why do we lose women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields?

  1. "Why Female Students Leave STEM" by Nick Roll for Inside Higher Ed (August 29, 2017).
  2. "Here's why women, blacks and Hispanics are leaving tech" by Jessica Guynn for USA TODAY (April 27, 2017).
  3. "Quick Take: Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)." New York: Catalyst (December 9, 2016).
  4. "Belonging' can help keep talented female students in STEM classes" by Nilanjana Dasgupta for National Science Foundation (August 26, 2016).
  5. "Women Leave STEM Jobs for the Reasons Men Want To" by Nicholas Zazulia for U.S. News & World Report (April 8, 2016).

Week 3

What kind of changes would help reduce challenges for recruitment/retention?

  1. "Poverty in the Ivory Tower" by Anonymous for Tenure She Wrote (January 16, 2014): good advice for PIs and students
  2. "The powerful woman behind Intel's new $300 million diversity initiative" by Michal Lev-Ram for Fortune (January 12, 2015).
  3. "Intent vs. Impact: Why Your Intentions Don’t Really Matter" by Jamie Utt for Everyday Feminism (July 30, 2013).

Suggest reading material!

 
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What are we learning?

Here we include some of the takeaways from our weekly discussions. This list is ever-growing, as we continue to learn, read, and digest our discussion about these big, important questions. Check back here to learn along with us about how to be a better ally.

Week 1

Overview: What is diversity in STEM and why is it important?

We want to commit to do more to support diversity in STEM and will start locally by focusing our outreach efforts on those with the greatest impact on under-served and under-represented groups. Also, we appreciated our discussion and want to learn more!

Week 2

Why do we lose women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields?

Women and people of color seem to face distinct hurdles/barriers, so we may need to address these axes of diversity in different ways. Also, we will focus on something more positive for next week: how to make change!

Week 3

What kind of changes would help reduce challenges for recruitment/retention?

Still processing...


Suggest actions we can take to be more inclusive

 
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Name
 
 
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Featured Sci-Art projects

Science and art have a lot in common. Both are grounded in observations and interpretations of our world, they share the same joy of discovery, and need to communicate with others. Mountain Lake Biological Station created ArtLab in recognition of the natural synergy between art and science. This program bring artists to the field station to interact with biologists and was our gateway to a multi-year, sci-art endeavor known as the Sound Art Project. This project was expanded in recent years with our collaboration with science communication agency, Impact Media Lab. Learn more about these collaborations below.

 

Experience life as an insect in the leaf litter

Have you ever wondered what the world might sound like to an insect? The Sound Art Project, a science-art collaboration that we developed with sound artist Stephen Vitiello, brings listeners into the depths of the world of plant-borne sound.

Our most recent show, "A Scuttering Across the Leaves," creates a world as experienced by plants and small organisms. We play amplified sound recordings of plant-borne insect calls using a unique, 145-speaker system (The Cube) at Virginia Tech.

Impact Media Lab

  Artist: Pawl Tisdale

Integrating art & design into our everyday

Our collaboration with Impact Media Lab, a science communication agency, began at the Shakespeare Festival in St. Louis, of all places. Kasey Fowler-Finn and Impact Media Lab's founder, Kika Tuff, bumped into each other when taking their dogs on a bathroom break. The two immediately connected over their love of science, art, and empowering women in STEM.

Kika and Kasey have collaborated on countless projects: grants, data visualization, outreach activities, lab t-shirts ... even this website! We highly recommend them for your outreach and design projects.

 

The National Science Education Standards defines science literacy as “the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.” We live in an age of constant scientific discovery — a world shaped by revolutionary new technologies. We work to promote and encourage science literacy through our outreach initiatives.

 
 
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Featured science literacy initiatives


BioBlitz

engaging citizen scientists in data collection

A BioBlitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period (e.g., usually 24 hours). There is a public component to many BioBlitzes, with the goal of getting the public interested in biodiversity. To encourage more public participation, these BioBlitzes are often held in parks close to cities. We hold ours annually in Forest Park.


Public talks

Sharing our love for science & discovery

Watch Kasey's talk at the St. Louis Public Library

Original event info: Thursday, July 20, 2017 at the Cliff Cave Branch

We give public talks to inform, to persuade and to entertain. They are a great way to share our findings, address questions or concerns from the public, and to showcase who scientists are and what kind of work they do.

Kasey and the Fowler-Finn lab group have given public talks at

St. Louis Public Library

Tyson Research Center


Local resource

connecting with educators & the public

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We serve as a university-based resource for folks with questions about insects and arachnids. It is particularly rewarding to work with local educators, such that our support can have ripple effects on spreading science literacy throughout our community. Some of our projects include:

(i) Supporting independent research by David Bruns, an educator with the Missouri Department of Conservation. David has been an key collaborator on our Bioblitz projects, and he recently generated an up-to-date checklist of spiders and harvestmen of Missouri. (ii) Interactive presentations at science outreach fairs such as this one here.


St. Louis Zoo Exhibit

Bringing our science to the community

 Photo by Ray Meibaum/Saint Louis Zoo

Photo by Ray Meibaum/Saint Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo is a free, public institution with over 3 million visitors/year. We are currently working with collaborators at the Zoo to develop new exhibits for its Insectarium. Two exhibitions are in construction: The first is a permanent exhibit on insect communication, with an emphasis on vibrational signals. The second is a rotating exhibit on the influence of global warming on insects.

Our goal is to peak the public’s interest in insect conservation, including population extinction, the impacts of warming on wildlife, and what people can do to reduce their carbon footprint. The Zoo provides Quick Scan QR codes for visitors to learn more about exhibits, and we will use visit numbers to assess the success of our exhibits.


Eight-legged Encounters

falling in love with arachnids

We collaborate with Dr. Eileen Hebets on her long-running, art-science outreach project: Eight-Legged Encounters. Eight-Legged Encounters, and all of its associated resources, were developed with the goal of educating the public about the wonders of biology and the possibility of scientific discovery using a charismatic and engaging group of animals – Arachnids.

The Eight-Legged Encounters project is an amazing example of science-art collaborations and public outreach. To date, the project has developed more than 25 modular activity stations encompassing arts and crafts, experiments, games, and other hands-on activities. All artwork and design, including the brainstorming of many hands-on activities, is the result of a collaboration with artist Pawl Tisdale.

Please visit Eileen Hebets' page to learn more about this amazing project!