Why Cornell’s Student-Led BEST Program is So Successful – Ep #30

What comes to mind when you think of “Student-led” programs? Do you instantly think of a program that is effective and inspiring or do you have a different take? Too often students and postdocs don’t get the chance they need to showcase their talent and ingenuity – that is not the case with Cornell University’s student-led Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program.

The mission of Cornell’s BEST program is to enhance training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars as they prepare for careers outside of conventional academic research.

On this episode of When Science Speaks, you’ll hear from several impressive BEST program participants as they join Mark for a round table discussion about the program.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [0:40] Mark introduces his guests from the Cornell University Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program.
  • [2:45] How did this group of students get involved in the BEST program?
  • [9:00] Making scientific terms and research findings accessible to a broader audience.
  • [12:45] How the BEST program has opened up new opportunities for the participants.
  • [16:20] The benefit of a student-led BEST program.
  • [19:40] What are the participants engaged in with science policy and communication?
  • [30:00] Closing thoughts from Mark.

Resources & People Mentioned

Building a robust communication skill set

The primary role of any effective BEST program is to equip and prepare students and postdocs as they explore opportunities in their field of study. Often the work of equipping these BEST participants is accomplished by exposing them to situations where they get to develop their communication skill sets.

One of the students that Mark spoke with took the time to explain how she has grown in her ability to speak about her work studying the impact of fracking on water supplies. The BEST program at Cornell exposed her to science communication programming and science policy programming that helps her answer the all-important question, “Why is your work relevant?”

The benefits of a student-led BEST program

Are you familiar with any student-led BEST programs? What do you anticipate as the benefits and drawbacks of a student-led BEST program? The truth is, the more we can err on the side of taking a chance to equip students and postdocs to take the ball and run with it the better off these programs will be. Think of these student-led programs from a legacy perspective – the more engagement and value they encounter, the more likely they are to give back to the institution to benefit the next generation.

One of the participants that Mark spoke to was able to explain the benefits of a student-led BEST program directly. Because of the student-led aspect of the BEST program at Cornell, students who are typically shy and introverted are expected to step out of their comfort zones and engage in networking. From cold-calling speakers to booking rooms and catering events, the BEST program at Cornell doesn’t shy away from requiring personal and professional growth from its participants.

You will be impressed when you take the time to hear Mark’s full conversation with these Cornell students and postdocs on this episode of When Science Speaks!

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