Episode for May 14, 2023

840 Marine Chemist Chris Reddy on how to talk about science & Special Guest Mom

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35 mins Christopher Reddy is a leader in the study of marine pollution and the development of environmentally friendly industrial chemicals. A senior scientist in the Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and faculty member of the MIT/WHOI joint program in oceanography, Reddy has led numerous field operations along coastlines, in the open ocean, and at the bottom of the sea to conduct transformative research that crosses disciplines and guides policy decisions worldwide.

When trains derail and spew toxic chemicals into the air, or when the ocean catches fire, the public needs to hear from scientists. And yet, after years of vaccine and climate change denial, fewer than 30% of Americans report having a great deal of confidence that scientists act in the public’s best interests. 

In his new book SCIENCE COMMUNICATION IN A CRISIS: An Insider’s Guide (Routledge; May 10, 2023), scientist Christopher M. Reddy offers his hard-won advice from decades on the front lines of environmental disasters. In this accessible and precise guide, Reddy reveals how anyone who needs to clearly and concisely convey their expertise can navigate the maze of competing interests during high-pressure situations to deliver trustworthy and actionable information.

Through multiple high-profile case studies—including the Deepwater Horizon and North Cape oil spills—Reddy unpacks ten specific challenges scientists face when interacting with the public and the media. His aim is not to explain how to ace an interview or craft a sound bite, but rather to offer a clear pathway to effective and collaborative communication when multiple groups are involved. There are the responders, people affected by the event, the media, policymakers, industry, concerned citizens and organizations; each category has its own goals, needs, and challenges, which scientists must understand in order to navigate them. 

As we face increasingly frequent and devastating climate disasters, with the ever-present risk of another pandemic, and as the spread of misinformation is turbocharged by AI, Chris Reddy’s perspective could not be more vital.

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