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Queen Mary Academy

PGCAP project: Science communication as a graduate attribute

A scientist in a lab coat talks about a scientific instrument she is using
Trinidad Montero-Melendez profile picture

Dr Trinidad Montero-Melendez

Lecturer in Molecular Pharmacology

Postgraduate students embarking on a PhD program usually start with a good core knowledge related to the discipline they have studied. However, there is a deficiency in the "active" training of students in communication skills, an area of crucial importance for disseminating scientific discoveries and achieving the advancement of Science.

The severity of the communication gap between scientists and society has become very apparent during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting how the spread of misinformation represents a serious threat to public health.

Science Communication as a graduate attribute for Biomedical Sciences

Two speech bubblesProviding students with effective communication skills equips them with the tools to demonstrate their ability to think, reflect and critically engage with the knowledge related to their discipline. In the case of Science Communication, this ability is crucial to have a more global perspective and enhance the interaction with society in disseminating scientific advances. This type of training also improves students’ confidence in public speaking, important for example when presenting their work or when facing job interviews, which helps them with their future career goals.

In addition to students, the discipline as a whole will also benefit from communicators that are engaging, reliable and able to deliver health and medical information and discoveries to a non-expert audience, improve the quality and leadership of the scientific force of the country and improve the public understanding and engagement with science.


Science Communication is a skill that needs to be trained and practiced to master it, as much as the laboratory skills in which students do receive active training.

A Science Communication training course

The rationale behind this project is understanding that effective communication as an actionable skill, and not something that can be acquired passively or simply have innately. This concept is backed-up by extensive literature, where multiple authors have reported that active programs directed to improve Science Communication can make a substantial difference in students performance.

The action proposed for consists of designing a course to deliver teaching in the area of Science Communication. The content of the course includes training in specific oral communication techniques like structuring a talk, use of body language and analysis of TED talks. A pre- and post course assessment of the students will allow to measure and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of this training course.

Contributor Profile

Dr Trinidad Montero-Melendez is a Lecturer in Molecular Pharmacology at the William Harvey Research Institute, Faculty of Medicine. She trained as a Pharmacologist and obtained her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Granada, Spain. She later joined the William Harvey Institute to work on understanding the pro-resolving potential of melanocortin receptors. She has contributed to the pre-clinical development of several drug candidates for the treatment of inflammatory conditions and has participated in large high-throughput drug screening programs for the identification of novel pro-resolving drugs. She is highly committed to the training of the next generation of scientists and with public engagement activities. She has published articles for the general public and children in the magazines The Biochemist and Frontiers for Young Minds and created a pop science and career development Book Club for early career researchers.

About PGCAP projects

PGCAP is the Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice, delivered by the Queen Mary Academy to staff teaching Queen Mary students.

The final module of PGCAP is Action (practitioner) Research. As part of this module, participants develop an Action Research Project Proposal. This is an excerpt from one such project proposal.

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