Plenary session

In this plenary session, young researchers affiliated with a Flemish university will testify about their experiences with science communication. By sharing examples and best practices, they will illustrate how you can use science communication to the benefit of your current research and future career.

Caroline Masquillier has been working as a sociologist at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, for several years on the social aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. As a passion project, Caroline started Field ( This creative science communication project aspires to help scientists of all domains to communicate their research results and the value of their work in an engaging and creative way. Caroline will talk about her experience of organizing a photo exhibition picturing a research project about children with special needs in Uganda. Furthermore, she will share her experience of making of a documentary about her research in South Africa.

Science communication is not just sharing knowledge with the broad public. It is much more about sharing passion, about showing people how you get energized and excited from the science you experience around you every single day. This triggers others to also go and explore new areas themselves. But how do you do this? In this talk, Marian Verhelst (KU Leuven) will discuss such opportunities based on her personal experience with science communication in TV Shows (, podcasts ( and high school projects (

Jan Trachet (UGent) will talk about his trail through SciComm: from the Ivory Tower to the Living Room … by bike: since the middle of my PhD, I started to communicate about my research, using the different ‘classic’ communication media. For my ongoing postdoc research, I mixed different concepts of research, communication and marketing into a unique way of science communication: Pourbus Troubadour. For one week, I cycled through my research area, using a medieval map of the region as my guide. In the evening, I gave Living Room Lectures for a host who invited family and friends and offered me board and lodging in return. The small-scaled, intimate and interactive setting of a living room on the one hand, and staying over on the other hand, resulted in far greater impact than more conventional presentations for ‘a broad public’. Do try this at home!

Danny E. P. Vanpoucke (UHasselt) will talk about tales of the odd duck in the pond: “A long time ago, there was a young theoretical physicist who simulated pictures all day long. At conferences, his colleague theoretical physicists showed slide after slide filled to the rim with equations. He, on the other hand only had pictures to show for. It made him feel as if he was speaking a totally different language…and he wanted to be understood.” Science communication can find its origin in many places, going from economic accountability all the way to the unbridled passion for one’s research. As a computational materials researcher, I am neither theoretician nor experimentalist, but also a bit of both. Being the odd one out, science communication evolved as a simple extension of my communication efforts toward my colleagues. In this context, science communication even became an advanced training ground, teaching me to convey my passion to those around me. It helps me to show them my picture of reality.

The traditional Academic mission consists of three important pillars. Research, education, and outreach. This third pillar includes our efforts in science communication. By placing the three pillars side by side, it might seem that they do not support each other. Vincent Ginis (VUB) will argue that we should approach science communication as an essential part of scientific research. Not only because it is an important societal task for academics, but also because there are interesting feedback effects on the research itself. After all, good science communication sometimes brings interesting interdisciplinary links, helps to organise the thoughts, shows the blind spots in our arguments, and puts everything in a larger perspective. Using some recent examples of important scientific discoveries, I try to put the underestimated value of science communication in the spotlights.

Plenary session
Stadscampus, De Meerminne
Date and time
Tue, 02/07/2019
10:00 - 12:00
Available places