Graham Lau

Reach Out and Touch Some Science!

 

"The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding."

- Leonardo da Vinci

Our explorations of the natural world and our scientific discoveries are nothing to be kept in a box. Science is a wonderful tool, one that has given us greater understanding of our place in the cosmos than any other human enterprise. Sharing our work in scientific research and discovery is a necessary way to ensure that science remains a human endeavor, something that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people." I love having opportunities to talk about science, life, and the cosmos with other people.

To communicate science, I've been writing through my blog "A Cosmobiologist's Dream", where I share little tid-bits on science, culture, mathematics, weird biology, music, space exploration, and more. I've given public talks at schools, museums, science centers, and planetariums, and I've also taken on roles in judging science fairs, mentoring students and families in developing research projects, and in reaching out to young people from across the planet who are interested in astrobiology and aiding them in their own academic and research endeavors. I'm now writing a book based on one of my most well-received planetarium talks. I'm always on the lookout for new collaborations and partnerships in science communication.

Below are some examples of my current and past projects in communicating science.

My bobble head is just as beardly as I am! (Thanks, Everett!)

My bobble head is just as beardly as I am! (Thanks, Everett!)

 

 
 

Engaging science

 

Famelab USA - 3rd Season - National Final 

"This Thing is Older Than Your Mom." This is a talk I delivered as my final entry for the FameLab USA science communication competition, which was held at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC on May 13, 2016. Famelab is an international sci comm competition which gives young scientists three minutes to share a scientific topic with no visual aids outside of one hand-held prop.

Here, I talk about meteorites, specifically my favorite meteorite, and about the incredibly old ages of materials within meteorites. And I remind the audience that if you have the chance to hold a meteorite, then you can look at it and think "this thing is older than mommy".


 

My Doctoral Defense Talk

"Modern & Ancient Cold Spring Sulfur Deposits in the High Arctic". It seems a little weird to be proud of this talk. When I gave this talk, I was super stressed-out, I hadn't slept well in days (and had only had an hour of sleep the night before), and I didn't exactly feel like my usual self. Yet, this talk was an important part of finishing up my PhD, and I'm proud of it. The talk covers some of the research I conducted on sulfur deposits that form from sulfide-rich springs on a glacier in the High Arctic. Even though PhD defense talks are usually expected to be more technical, I decided that being myself and making this talk more accessible to a wider audience was the better way to go (a decision I'm quite happy about).

I have to give a huge thanks to my friend, Michael Toillon, of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the Don't Panic Adventure Club, for recording and editing the video for the talk!


 
 

The Craziest Creatures on Earth

This is a planetarium talk that I developed a few years ago as part of the Above & Beyond discussion series. Above & Beyond was put together by Morgan Rehnberg, who is now the Director of Scientific Presentation at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The Craziest Creatures on Earth presented some of the weirdest organisms on Earth and considered what extreme life on our planet can teach us about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life. From hummingbirds, Blobfish, and Mantis Shrimp to Deinococcus radiodurans, hyperthermophiles, and more, The Craziest Creatures on Earth explores various planetary environments and biological adaptations and frames the quest to understand life in the universe within our own understanding of life here. If you'd like to learn more, click on the talk flyer! 


 

Famelab USA - 3rd Season - Preliminary Round 

"Man vs. Glacier." This talk was the winning entry in a preliminary round of the FameLab USA science communication competition, which was held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institution in Troy, NY in August of 2014. Famelab is an international sci comm competition which gives young scientists three minutes to share a scientific topic with no visual aids outside of one hand-held prop.

In this talk, I shared the story about how terrifying it was when a large glacial eruption of ice and water (a supraglacial jökulhlaup) happened near where we were standing during the course of our field work earlier that summer.


 
 
 
Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.
— Carl Sagan