Jessamyn Fairfield Receives Early Career Physics Communicator Award

Jessamyn Fairfield, left, receives Early Career Physics Communicator Award from Fran Scott. Courtesy/www.iop.org

Staff Report

This year’s Early Career Physics Communicator Award has gone to a postdoc at Trinity College Dublin who helped to create a physics campaign on the city’s light railway. Jessamyn Fairfield of Los Alamos and daughter of local scientist Eric Fairfield was presented with £250 in cash Nov. 26 by television communicator Fran Scott at the final of the awards.

Fairfield impressed judges with her enthusiasm and her commitment to finding funders for the eight-week advertising campaign on the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) as well as her ability to explain complex ideas through blogs and other outlets. See the DART campaign here.

Fairfield was among four finalists who gave presentations during the event at the IOP’s London center before the winner was announced and each was presented with a certificate on behalf of the IOP Physics Communicators Group, which organized the awards.

In her presentation, Fairfield said she tried to explain advanced physics concepts in simple language. With some creative thought about how to communicate ideas, it was possible to convey difficult material even to those with no math background, she said.

“I am very excited and surprised,” Fairfield said. “Science communication can be undervalued by the research community but it’s really important because that’s how you get more scientists and people who are scientifically literate. In my career I want to have a dual focus on research and outreach. This award means that when I go for permanent positions I will be able to demonstrate credibility in science communication.”

As one of the judges, Scott gave feedback to each of the finalists before presenting the prize. In her keynote talk, she described her career in science communication on television, particularly to children, through programs such as Absolute Genius with Dick and Dom.

“I strongly believe that science itself is not difficult but it’s sometimes presented in a way that makes it overcomplicated,” Scott said. “It’s so easy for children to say ‘I am not brainy enough to do science’ and that’s because they’re scared.”

 

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