Award-winning actor Alan Alda will be making his way to Mississippi State University this week. Alda, who is best known for his role as Hawkeye Pierce from the 1970’s tv series M*A*S*H*, will share skills he developed through his acting career as he teaches university research faculty how to communicate about complex topics and research in vivid and engaging ways so that the public can better understand their mission.
Alda will present a free public lecture on “Getting Beyond a Blind Date with Science” Monday [Aug. 27] at 6 p.m. in Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium.
Though admission is free, attendees must have tickets, available at the Center for Student Activities in MSU’s Colvard Student Union, Suite 314, or by calling 662-325-2930.
Alda Center faculty will remain on campus through Aug. 30 to host an Alda–Kavli workshop for researchers and other university communicators as part of ongoing outreach work with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science based at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York. Funding from the California-based Kavli Foundation supports the joint mission of both organizations to advance science and promote public understanding of scientific research.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum said telling stories about MSU research is a common challenge that spans across disciplines. As a National Science Foundation Top 100 research university, faculty expertise runs a broad spectrum, from agriculture and engineering to unmanned aircraft systems and veterinary science. In addition to STEM fields, MSU has a strong research portfolio in the humanities.
“Mississippi State is a comprehensive university with research projects on many focus areas and specialties,” Keenum said. “It is of the utmost importance that administrators, faculty, and others be able to effectively communicate about MSU research and the impact these projects have at the local, state, national and global levels. We are delighted to have someone of Alan Alda’s stature to help introduce this effort at MSU.”
The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science helps scientists and health professionals communicate about complex topics in clear, vivid and engaging ways, which leads to an improved understanding by the public, media, elected officials and others outside of their own disciplines. The center developed training methodologies inspired by scientific storytelling featured on the PBS television series Scientific American Frontiers, hosted by Alda.
“MSU is conducting amazing research across the entire university,” said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw. “This workshop is designed to help us tell our story of the great work we are doing more effectively.”