Wendy Rigby, biomedical reporter and alumna, addressed approximately 15 Trinity students â€” most of whom were members of the Chemistry Club â€” on Wednesday evening. Rigby focused on how to communicate scientific research to the public.
Rigbyâ€™s appearance was made possible by the Trinity Chemistry Club and the department of communication. Rigby boasts a 25-year career in broadcast journalism, of which she spent 20 years at KENS-TV, the local CBS affiliate, where she covered health and medical news. She reported on the same subjects for Texas Public Radio for five years, before taking a job with Texas BioMed as the media and communication specialist this September.
Rigby graduated from Trinity summa cum laude in 1983 with a degree in print and broadcast journalism. Yesterday, she announced that she was accepted to an online program at Johns Hopkins University to receive her masterâ€™s degree in communication.
Rigby had a lot of advice for students majoring in a science who may need to talk to journalists about their research some day.
â€œFor a scientist, you need to turn your writing background around. When youâ€™re trying to get your message out to the public, you need to reverse how you might write a research paper and start with the results and then move on to the details,â€ Rigby said.
Rigby recommended that researchers â€œspeak Englishâ€ when describing their research, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the publicâ€™s intelligence.
â€œDonâ€™t underestimate what people want to know because listeners and viewers are more educated and interested than ever before. You have to make it understandable, but donâ€™t talk down,â€ Rigby said.
Julia Matsuo Dapaah, senior biochemistry and molecular biology major, found these aspects of Rigbyâ€™s talk very helpful.
â€œCommunication and science is something we should be mindful of, because you can have all the science but you need someone to be able to tell the public,â€ Matsuo Dapaah said. â€œBut itâ€™s a challenge. You never know how much detail to go into, how much you should dumb down the science.â€
Maya Ewens, sophomore psychology major and vice president of social media for the chemistry club, also found Rigbyâ€™s talk informative.
â€œI was interested about hearing about the research that she does, as well as the journalism that goes into it, which we donâ€™t hear much about,â€ Ewen said. â€œI took away that writing is more important than people think in science. Itâ€™s not just research.â€
Rigby also had advice for aspiring journalists.
â€œItâ€™s important to use writing, video and audio. You can just be a writer, but that doesnâ€™t mean you wonâ€™t have to speak to people. The more you know how to do, the better off youâ€™ll be in the future,â€ Rigby said. â€œYou have to communicate with people from the CEO to the homeless man on the street. You canâ€™t bring your own bias into it. Iâ€™m not Wendy Rigby; Iâ€™m Texas BioMed.â€
Despite her presence in the science field, Rigby does not have a science background, and she does not think that a background is necessary.
â€œI donâ€™t think a science background is necessary for scientific reporting. I think itâ€™s necessary to have good communication skills, basic understanding and a need to learn. Eighty percent of what Iâ€™ve learned has been on the job. Itâ€™s like getting a degree while I work,â€ Rigby said.
Rigby also promoted the benefits of a liberal arts education.
â€œYou need to find a way to combine your strengths and skills with your passion. I loved my liberal arts education because it allowed me to walk into a newsroom at the age of 21 and say â€˜I know about that,â€™ â€ Rigby said.