1in10 Success Stories: Annabelle Lalinco

I am a graduate student getting a doctoral degree in Chemical Education at Iowa State University. I grew up in Fresno, California, and moved east for graduate school, drawn to Iowa State’s graduate program. Given my intersecting interests in chemistry, communication and education, The Science Communication Project led by Dr. Dara Wald and others was a particular draw.

Dr. Wald led me to meeting Dr. Raquell Holmes and the opportunity to attend and present at Cultivating Ensembles (then CESTEMER), the science communication conference that was led by Dr. Holmes. It was my great fortune that, in 2017, CESTEMER was held in Chicago, which was not far from my new residence in Iowa. It was a perfect opportunity for me to meet other scientists who are exploring communication beyond traditional science communities. I was also able to submit and be accepted for an abstract with my more interdisciplinary work that I developed as a McNair Scholar.

At the conference, I had several great conversations. In particular, I enjoyed the wonderful connection with Raquell, based on our shared interest in the intersection of science and communication. My involvement with Cultivating Ensembles then deepened when I was invited to be on the organizing committee for the 2019 conference. I knew that my load would be full with graduate school, but that this was a lifetime opportunity not to be missed, so I joined the Communications Sub-Committee. Through this work, I connected with other colleagues crossing the intersection of science and humanities, like Simone Hyater-Adams and Eric Olson, and broadened my network outside of the traditional science world.

Beyond getting kids excited about science, science communication has a natural place in society and social issues. Being on the committee taught me to think outside of the box in my work and in my own professional development. As I branched out in ways in which I could make an impact, I was led to science policy and advocacy.  

Research is collaborative—even more so when seemingly dissimilar disciplines intersect. It’s about breaking down barriers and creating clear communication. From my experience with Cultivating Ensembles and my interactions with Raquell, I learned how to be open and vulnerable in my communication and to have conversations that might be uncomfortable, while taking stock from the improv that infused the playful interactions of Cultivating Ensembles. I learned the value of, and incorporated into my work, what Raquell does so beautifully: giving and receiving from other people’s asks and information, and playing off of that, building on what is received and giving in return. And that makes communication fun!