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Filter by author: Heather Akin

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Sep 15, 2021 Article
Science communication training as information seeking and processing: a theoretical approach to training early-career scientists

by Heather Akin, Shelly Rodgers and Jack Schultz

This study examines early-career scientists' cognition, affect, and behaviors before, during, and after a series of science communication training workshops drawing from the Risk Information Seeking and Processing (RISP) and Theory of Planned Behavior theoretical models. We find correlations between engagement (throughout the training), self-reported knowledge and intention to apply their science communication skills. We discuss implications of these findings for science communication training, in particular that science communication behaviors and investment in skill development appear to be more dependent on attitudes and motivations cultivated during the training, rather than their attitudes and motivations coming in.

Volume 20 • Issue 05 • 2021

Jun 04, 2018 Article
Open and transparent research practices and public perceptions of the trustworthiness of agricultural biotechnology organizations

by Asheley R. Landrum, Joseph Hilgard, Robert B. Lull, Heather Akin and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Public trust in agricultural biotechnology organizations that produce so-called ‘genetically-modified organisms’ (GMOs) is affected by misinformed attacks on GM technology and worry that producers' concern for profits overrides concern for the public good. In an experiment, we found that reporting that the industry engages in open and transparent research practices increased the perceived trustworthiness of university and corporate organizations involved with GMOs. Universities were considered more trustworthy than corporations overall, supporting prior findings in other technology domains. The results suggest that commitment to, and communication of, open and transparent research practices should be part of the process of implementing agricultural biotechnologies.

Volume 17 • Issue 02 • 2018

Aug 17, 2016 Article
Tweeting disaster: an analysis of online discourse about nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident

by Nan Li, Heather Akin, Leona Yi-Fan Su, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos and Dietram A. Scheufele

Of all the online information tools that the public relies on to collect information and share opinions about scientific and environmental issues, Twitter presents a unique venue to assess the spontaneous and genuine opinions of networked publics, including those about a focusing event like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Using computational linguistic algorithms, this study analyzes a census of English-language tweets about nuclear power before, during, and after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Results show that although discourse about the event may have faded rapidly from the news cycle on traditional media, it evoked concerns about reactor safety and the environmental implications of nuclear power, particularly among users in U.S. states that are geographically closer to the accident site. Also, while the sentiment of the tweets was primarily pessimistic about nuclear power weeks after the accident, overall sentiment became increasingly neutral and uncertain over time. This study reveals there is a group of concerned citizens and stakeholders who are using online tools like Twitter to communicate about global and local environmental and health risks related to nuclear power. The implications for risk communication and public engagement strategies are discussed.

Volume 15 • Issue 05 • 2016