MERCED, CA — When Professor Mónica Medina of UC Merced's School of Natural Sciences applied for a National Science Foundation CAREER award last year, she knew she wanted to include in her research plans an outreach component to speak to the multicultural population of California's Central Valley. Tuned in to Web 2.0 communication platforms and the preferences of her students, Medina turned to multilingual podcasting as an economical yet far-reaching means of communication.
Medina's lab team now has Science and Environment Podcasts in English, Spanish and Hmong, ready for download or RSS subscription on the UC Merced podcast page. (Hmong is the third most common language spoken in the region around UC Merced.) More trilingual podcasts are coming soon.
The podcasts are each about two minutes in length and designed to be easy to digest for audiences without scientific background.
"We hope these podcasts will be used by teachers, radio stations, individuals — anyone who wants to download a glimpse of our research and take it on the go," Medina said. "Ultimately our dream is that these messages will inspire people to pursue higher education in the sciences."
Postdoctoral researcher Chris Voolstra and students Shini Sunagawa, Angelina Velazquez, Zer Vue, Julissa Gonzalez and Mickey DeSalvo have been instrumental in producing the podcasts that are completed so far, and other members of the lab team also have a part to play. The diversity of the group means that Medina didn't have to look far for translators and announcers to produce the podcasts in Spanish and Hmong. They were already working in her lab.
So far, the podcasts address how global climate change is affecting coral reefs and agriculture. There's also a podcast about air pollution in the Central Valley. More topics will be added in the future.
Medina's research focuses on genomics of corals, coral-algae symbiosis, and other marine invertebrates.