The Complicated Intersection Of Science, Industry, Citizens & Public Policy
I work in a unique field where opinions and concerns of citizens and communities are sought to support regulatory decisions for complex and controversial energy projects. I’ve spent over a decade in public outreach as part of safety and environmental assessments of nuclear facilities. I’ve learned how the myriad of diverse interests of the energy industry, local and state governments, and concerned citizens must coexist for these projects to succeed. When it comes to decisionmaking, there’s no denying that human emotions and preconceived notions matter, often in spite of scientific facts. It’s clear that scientists often communicate poorly, fail to appreciate how “facts” will be misinterpreted, and ignore the impact of fear. It’s also clear that citizens and other affected groups sometimes don’t hear the facts or hear only what supports their preconceived ideas. When emotions run high, misinformation is taken as truth, and project decisions can be delayed or made based on false premises. This talk shares my scientific public outreach experiences, emphasizing the importance of good communication. Listen in for a better understanding of how public outreach works, how scientific information can be communicated well, and how to effectively engage in these complex projects as a citizen.
Miriam Holladay Juckett is an enthusiastic environmental scientist and public outreach specialist working as a federal contractor on nuclear energy regulation projects. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry and an M.S. in Environmental Science, and currently serves as the manager of the Environmental Protection and External Hazard Assessment program at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). After working in pesticide analysis as a student researcher, her first job out of college was on a team of scientists and engineers evaluating the safety and environmental impacts of a proposed nuclear waste disposal site. After a couple of years on the team, the lead for the public outreach program took a different job. None of her fellow scientists wanted to take over, but she was excited about the opportunity. Working in public outreach provided a unique window into the often distinct rift between the viewpoints of regulators, citizens, and scientists. Miriam has dedicated more than a decade of her career to helping bridge that gap. In 2015, she was awarded San Antonio Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 recognition for this work. Miriam is deeply passionate about restoring trust in science, understanding the citizens’ voice, and helping science work for the betterment of society.
- Website – http://www.swri.org/industries/environmental-compliance
- LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/miriam-holladay-juckett