Centenary professor nominated for national science award

SHREVEPORT, LA — Dr. Rebecca Murphy, Assistant Professor of Biology at Centenary, has been nominated for a national award by Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center. The children’s science museum in Shreveport is supporting Murphy as a nominee for the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.

Dr. Rebecca Murphy

Dr. Rebecca Murphy

“The AAAS is one of the largest and most broad-reaching societies available to scientists.  Just being nominated by Sci-Port, which works with many excellent outreach groups all the time, is a huge honor,” says Murphy. “I have very much enjoyed my collaborations with Sci-Port, as it has improved the ability to effectively communicate science to all audiences, both for my students and myself. To me this is a tremendously important skill that is often greatly overlooked.”

Murphy was part of the first cohort of scientists trained in Sci-Port’s new STEM Communications Institute, a workshop that equips practicing science professionals to relate their research to audiences of all ages and encourages one-on-one interaction between scientists and the general public. As a result of the workshop, Murphy has created a hands-on, table-top activity based on her research into the potential use of sorghum as a biofuel.

In a nomination letter from Sci-Port, Senior Manager of Sponsored Programs Heather Kleiner highlighted Murphy’s participation in the museum’s monthly “Scientist Spotlight” series and the inaugural Shreveport Mini Maker Faire held on Centenary’s campus in September 2015. Kleiner also noted Murphy’s efforts to integrate science with the arts in her courses at Centenary, including partnering with the Meadows Museum of Art on a genomic art exhibit in which students produced art from their own genomes, and sponsoring a department-wide Glycolysis Song Contest to help students learn about this metabolic pathway.

“Though not always recognized as such, the Shreveport-Bossier City area is home to a thriving science community,” wrote Kleiner in the nomination letter. “We are thankful that Dr. Murphy has been such an active participant in public engagement at Sci-Port and elsewhere, and are certain that her efforts will continue for years to come.”

The AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science was established in 2010 and recognizes early-career scientists and engineers who demonstrate excellence in their contribution to public engagement with science activities. The recipient will receive a monetary prize of $5,000 and a commemorative plaque at the AAAS Annual Meeting.