Last week’s ScienceOnline2010, our fourth annual science communication conference in North Carolina, was our biggest, best and most successful event yet, and from the long list of blog and media coverage and the Flickr pictures, YouTube videos and Twitter mentions of the conference (all using the tag #scio10), it certainly seems the BlogTogether spirit was coursing through the 267 participants.
Bora and I can’t be happier, or more proud, of what this conference achieved. More than anything, we are astounded by the openness with which so many people came together to share, explore, question, listen and narrate in order to reflect the importance of science in their lives and how the Web can be used to share their passions for science. See Bora’s excellent post, Making it real: People and Books and Web and Science at ScienceOnline2010 (and please give us your feedback through this form).
Our gratitude goes to all who attended the conference and participated so energetically in the conversations there.
And special thanks goes to the following individuals and organizations that helped us grow and improve this conference. Please thank them for making ScienceOnline2010 possible — click through to their sites to learn more about each person or organization. (We thanked the sponsors of ScienceOnline’09 here, the second event here and the first event here.)
Sigma Xi was founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering. For the third year in a row, Sigma Xi opened its beautiful center for our use, and Meg Murphy and Michael Heisel made sure we had everything we needed.
Our institutional partner
The Contemporary Science Center is a catalyst for transforming science education in North Carolina, using innovative models of teaching and learning to inspire teachers and students statewide to embrace scientific engagement. When we went looking for an organization to handle our accounting (as individuals, Bora and I can’t accept foundation grants and donations), CSC Executive Director Pamela Blizzard enthusiastically agreed to help. Her center is based in a hands-on learning lab in the building of our ScienceOnline’09 institutional partner, the Museum of Life and Science, and it’s a perfect place to encourage high school students to get the science bug.
Even amid the economic bad times facing our country, we were able to attract repeat and new sponsors who dramatically helped us grow the conference. Sponsoring organizations included the following:
Burroughs Wellcome Fund, an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the biomedical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities, not only repeated its support of our conference for the fourth year in a row, it increased its past generous grants by 50 percent this time around. Their substantial support helped us bring New Yorker science writer Michael Specter to the conference as keynote speaker. Russ Campbell, communications officer, has long been a friend to the conference, and we’re indebted to him for his cheerleading for our annual conference and his leadership in forming the Science Communicators of North Carolina (along with scientist and science writer Chris Brodie).
Last year, the Research Triangle Foundation, the granddaddy of science parks in the U.S., helped us even our accounts with a last-minute grant. This year, RTP stepped in as a major sponsor and host of our opening reception. Not only did they provide funding, logistical support and a welcoming opening-night party, but CEO Rick Weddle, Tina Valdecanas, Cara Rousseau and Jordan Mendys also offered important ideas and contacts that helped us make the conference run so smoothly. They also rolled up their sleeves Saturday and Sunday and took over important tasks at the registration table and video cameras.
Over the last year, RTP has also been an important supporter of Science In the Triangle, an evolving experiment in community science journalism and scientific-community organizing. The crew behind SITT was instrumental in helping us make ScienceOnline2010 a much more professional endeavor — witness the nice programs and donor poster designed by Tessa Perrien, the conference iPhone app programmed by Ben Schell and Seth Peterson, the video support by Ross Maloney, and of course the strategic consulting by Christopher Perrien. Sabine Vollmer and DeLene Beeland, contributors to the SITT blog, also provided some great coverage of the conference in addition to their posts about science in this region.
Tricia Kenny of Invitrogen pinged us late one night to ask if that life sciences company could sponsor the conference, and then offered to help us in some very creative ways. These included a cash grant to provide lunch on Saturday, as well as making the cool name badges, providing the tote bags and giving us a large sum to purchase Flip video cameras (through the Flip Spotlight program) that we gave out to video volunteers to record interviews at the conference and back at home.
Google Sidewiki similarly provided a cash grant and ways to win a chrome Flip Mino HD — Community manager Natalie Villalobos ran a contest during the conference to encourage posting to Sidewiki, and among the winners of the Google Flips were the eight high school students from Staten Island Academy, who each won a camera for their many and insightful comments.
RTI International, one of the world