Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Gentemann! Congratulations to RSMAS Alum on Well-Deserved AGU Recognition

photoChelle L. Gentemann, Ph.D., senior principal scientist at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and RSMAS Alumna (pictured here with her kids) is the recipient of this year’s Falkenberg Award.  The award, jointly sponsored between the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and  the Earth Science Information Partnership (ESIP), is given to a scientist under age 45 who has contributed to the quality of life, economic opportunities and stewardship of the planet through the use of Earth science information.

While at RSMAS Chelle served as a graduate research assistant in the laboratory of UM Professor Peter Minnett, working on physical models of daytime warming to establish better approaches to the interpretation of satellite-derived SSTs, and on the improved uncertainty error characterization of satellite-derived SSTs using shipboard radiometers.

“We are very proud of Chelle’s accomplishments. She was a very conscientious and highly-motivated student, earning several awards for “Best Student Papers” at scientific meetings of the AGU and the American Meteorological Society during her time here. The Falkenberg Award is well-deserved and shows the respect that Chelle has earned from her peers in the world-wide satellite oceanography research and operational communities,” said Minnett.

Her current research at RSS focuses on the extraction of accurate geophysical variables from measurements of imaging microwave radiometers on earth observation satellites. Exploiting the fact that microwave radiation emitted by the sea surface is largely unaffected by clouds as it propagates through the atmosphere, Chelle’s research includes the calibration of microwave radiometer and validation of sea surface temperature, studying the modification of sea-surface temperature (SST) by tropical cyclones and the daily heating and cooling of the upper ocean. She also contributes to improvements to the blending of SSTs derived from infrared and microwave radiometers.

She is also a lead-PI of the MISST (Multi-sensor Improved SST) project, which is a multi-institutional research effort to improve the accuracies and demonstrate applications of satellite SSTs. She participates in the National Research Council Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space, the NASA SST Science Team, the JAXA GCOM AMSR2 Science Team, the Group for High Resolution SST (GHRSST) Science Team and Advisory Council, and is active in the GHRSST Diurnal Warming, Sea Ice, Multi-Product Ensemble, and Data Management Working Groups.  She is also a member of the AGU, American Meteorological Society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Chelle received her Ph.D. in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science in 2007.  She attended the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she received her Master’s in Physical Oceanography, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she completed her Bachelor’s in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.


Communicating Science

Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone. — Albert Einstein

Good scientific presentations can be exciting, inspiring and bring people together to work towards a common goal. Bad presentations can make people tired, angry, or bored, therefore they don’t pay attention and the message gets lost. We have all sat through at least one terrible scientific presentation that is filled with complicated slides and an alphabet soup of acronyms. They are just torturous… But there is hope! There is a new wave of scientists making an effort to add some clarity and excitement to scientific presentations.

Below is a list of tips I compiled after attending two communicating science workshops. These skills can be helpful in giving public presentations, in explaining your science to journalists, and even in writing grants. Enjoy!

Important things to keep in mind when giving a presentation:
• Know your audience –speak to their knowledge level
• Focus on the message –bring it back to why it matters to the broader audience
• Tell a story – your research includes mystery, compelling questions, characters, locations – your audience will care about the outcome
• Include personal anecdotes, passion, humor, analogies, metaphors
• Limit jargon, acronyms, complicated words/phrases
• Simple does not mean dumb, don’t talk down to your audience
• Make your presentations interactive if possible
• Look trustworthy, professional and believable
• Practice – know the material, don’t rush or go over time, be confident
• Ask someone to watch and evaluate your presentation
• Powerpoints:
o Powerpoints should enhance the material, not take over the presentation
o Be able to do your presentation without it, one day you may have to
o Support your presentation with visual imagery – photos, videos
o Don’t read your slides, make eye contact with the audience
o Keep your slides simple, clean, not cluttered – you want your audience to think, not to work

Tips for on-air interviews:
• Be prepared
• Have a few sound bites/talking points prepared before you arrive
• Suggest questions for the interviewer to ask you
• Ask for a do-over if the piece is taped
• Answer the questions you want, lead the interview to the right questions
• Learn from your mistakes

Tips for getting your research featured in news articles
• Squeeze info quickly into a short story.
• What’s the news? How do I explain it as simply as possible?
• Answer the phone – journalists work with very quick deadlines
• Scientific literacy isn’t a job requirement for science journalists so explain your science well to the media so they can put it in a story correctly

Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Florida Presentation Bootcamp

Communicating Science Workshops:

American Geophysical Union (AGU) Communicating Science Workshop
San Francisco, CA
December 4, 2011
Ellen Prager, PhD – Earth2Ocean, Inc.
Dan Vergano – USA Today
Molly Bentley – Big Picture Science
Dan Kahan – Yale Law School
Brian Malow – Science Comedian

Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Florida
Presentation Bootcamp

Miami, FL
January 9-10, 2012
Presenter: Rick Tankersley

Do you have any tips/tricks you would like to add? Leave them in the comments section below…

-Laura Bracken
Alumni & Outreach Manager
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