New York Blog

Announcing Science Online NYC! (SoNYC)

(Cross-posted from Of Schemes and Memes)

We’re delighted to be able to share some details of a new monthly event for anyone based in New York who’s interested in how science is carried out and communicated online., in collaboration with co-organisers Jeanne Garbarino at Rockefeller University, "John Timmer ":!/j_timmer at Ars Technica and Joe Bonner from Rockefeller and SWINY, will be hosting a monthly discussion series consisting of a panel debate followed by audience Q&A and post-debate networking. We’d love you to come along!

The first SoNYC event will take place on Wednesday 20th April from 7pm at Rockefeller University (Caspary 1A/B – location 5 on this map), later adjourning to the Faculty and Students Club on-campus bar. The topic for discussion is:

Courting Controversy: how to successfully engage an online audience with complex or controversial topics.

Climate change. Nuclear safety. Vaccination. These are topics where scientific and medical experts are nearly unanimous when it comes to the basics. But the public has remained uncertain and sometimes hostile to the scientific understanding, in part because of the efforts of vocal and well organized groups that argue against the consensus position. In other cases, like the recent events in Japan, expert opinions have been drowned out by rumors and a rush to provide coverage.

Join us to discuss how science communicators can help ensure that accurate information rises above the noise, and the challenges faced by experts who attempt to reach the public directly. Our panel includes researchers who have engaged the press and the public about climate change, vaccines, and the perception of risk.

Ken Bromberg is the director of the Vaccine Research Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, and has made frequent appearances in the media to discuss vaccine safety.

David Ropeik is a former journalist who now lectures and consults on risk perception. In recent entries at his blog, On Risk, he has tackled vaccines and nuclear safety.

Gavin Schmidt is a climate researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and a driving force behind the RealClimate blog. His public outreach efforts have included an appearance on the Letterman Show.

The aim is to make these meet-ups as interactive as possible; please bring your ideas, your experiences and your enthusiasm for a lively debate and chance to meet other like-minded NYC sci comm. folks. Once we’ve held the first event, we’ll be asking for your feedback and suggestions for the next one so that this becomes an regular, inclusive opportunity for the discussion of all things related to how science is carried out and communicated online.

You can find us online at the following places:

Twitter: @S_O_NYC hashtag: #sonyc

Facebook: SoNYC page

Please let us know if you’re planning to come by signing up on Eventbrite as it helps to ensure we have the right sized room and enough for everyone to drink. Feel free to invite your colleagues and friends too. If you have any questions, do send Lou an email (

Hope to see you in April!


  1. Report this comment

    David Johnson said:

    Enjoyed the meeting tonight. Many good points were raised, providing much food for thought. What is resonating most in my mind post-meeting is the conversation near the end  re: what science journalists and scientists roles/goals should be with regards to their communications with the public. The panel, and many in the audience, seemed to agree that the goal shouldn’t be to educate, which I’m not completely comfortable with. To the extent that people are influenced, they are being educated. To persuade or condition people to feel, believe or act in a certain way is to educate them. I don’t think I would be interested in writing if I didn’t think I might be able to influence reader’s feelings about the topic at hand.

    Anyway, looking forward to the next one!

  2. Report this comment

    rex manuel said:

     Please try to have a recording of the discussion 

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