Have you ever wondered what steps Rutgers science teams take to understand and solve complex environmental challenges?
Rutgers alumni and friends were treated to a screening of original short science-in-action stories featuring SEBS scientists on November 28 at the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health. This event gave 160 audience members a front-row seat to some of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) scientists’ work that is making an impact around the world.
The eight science stories featuring research from New Jersey’s food systems and aquatic ecosystems were all produced at Rutgers with the creative collaboration of undergraduate students under the storytelling leadership of Dena Seidel, research analyst in the Department of Plant Biology.
These stories communicate the scientists’ passion for their work and their interdisciplinary scientific process including investigations at active hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean. This cutting-edge SEBS research included:
- Fields of Devotion (Plant Breeding, Food Security and Climate resiliency)
- Ocean Farming (Aquaculture and Food Security and Climate resiliency)
- Mysteries of 9° North (Deep Sea Microbiology at Hydrothermal Vents)
- Amaranth (Culturally Preferred Traditional Vegetables, Food Security)
- Antarctic Edge: 70° South (Antarctic Climate Science)
- Life on the Edge: Horseshoe Crabs (New Jersey’s Horseshoe Crab Migration)
- Stories from the Marsh (Climate Change’s Impact on New Jersey’s Fish Population)
- Biting Back (Developing Plant-Based Insect Repellent to Protect Against Disease in a Changing Climate)
Interdisciplinary science and teamwork were clearly on display, and many said the event was both educational and inspiring and brought them a sense of pride in Rutgers research and local and global impact.
“I love your science storytelling project. The [stories] provide a wonderful view into the exciting projects and collaborations available to students, staff, and faculty at Rutgers. [They] tell interesting, inspiring stories succinctly and I’m sure prospective students and people around the state would really enjoy them,” said Lindsey Kayman, president, Environmental Education Fund (Rutgers College ’81, Chemistry).
Gabriel Kotliar, Distinguished Professor and Board of Governors Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Director, Center for Materials Theory, said, “I was struck by the amount of cooperation. enthusiasm and team spirit the [stories] displayed. These are a great way to interest and inspire students towards studying science at Rutgers and for giving them hope for the future.”
After the one-hour video showcase, alumni and friends were invited to meet with the featured scientists, both faculty and graduate students, and the science storytellers.
“It was so inspiring to learn all of what’s going on behind the scenes as so much goes on behind the scenes we just don’t hear about. There are good people doing great work to further food security including improving agricultural methods finding solutions to our ever-changing climate,” said Mark Reid, a New Jersey urban farmer, who attended the screening.
The event could not have been possible without the enthusiastic and generous support by Rutgers alumni Penny Pray (Douglass College’70) and Don Pray (Rutgers College’69). They announced that they will be supporting the science-in-action event in 2024 in the Department of Plant Biology.
According to Penny Pray, “SEBS scientists and students together have shown what true collaboration looks like. By embedding storytellers in your research labs, teams of people from different disciplines work towards a common goal…find a problem, work on solutions and share this information in story form with those curious to learn more!”
The research being highlighted by scientists and storytellers includes undergraduate students to communicate science processes to public audiences based on a STEM educational and communication model developed at Rutgers since 2008;
The making of the short science story, Amaranth: Cultivating Culture about SEBS plant scientists developing an underutilized but highly nutritious leafy green, provides immersive science learning through storytelling opportunities for undergraduates Zolani Kizito and Kaliyah McNight to creatively collaborate in trusting partnership with SEBS plant scientists.
To view some of the SEBS story featured at the event, check out the following links:
- SEBS Science-in-Action Research Complication
- Antarctic Edge: 70 Degrees South, full-length documentary
- Life at the Edge: Exploring New Jersey’s Ocean Ecosystem, a short student-directed documentary
- Fields of Devotion, short documentary trailer, available on Kanopy in some locations via the public library system and via Rutgers Libraries
- Mysteries of 9° North trailer