We take a multidisciplinary approach to share the discoveries, methods and culture of science.
We use narrative storytelling, coupled with high-impact visualizations, to bring science to diverse audiences.
We are dedicated to experimenting, researching and evaluating content, form, distribution, and audience-building.
The Wonder Collaborative is the feature film studio of the Science Communication Lab, focusing on highlighting the wonder, awe, and diversity of discovery through feature-length films and innovative distribution networks.
The educational initiative, which includes iBiology, features the excitement of modern biology in free high-quality educational videos with a focus on undergraduate biology education. We also provide professional development modules on the process of scientific research and communication for undergraduates and graduate students.
At the Science Communication Lab, we imagine a world where science content is valued in the educational and entertainment worlds at the same level as political, business, sports, or other popular content. We believe that science literacy is key to a healthy and informed citizenry. And we believe that film and narrative are powerful tools in connecting people more fully to the world of science. All our programs are guided by the following 8 core values:
We believe that the public and students benefit from hearing directly from scientists, and scientists benefit when their voices are heard. For too long, there has been a conventional wisdom around science communication that only a few scientists are effective communicators. The Science Communication Lab challenges that assumption by building partnerships between scientists and communicators that allow scientists to share their knowledge, excitement, awe, and passion.
When audiences watch movies and videos about science, it matters who they see on screen and how they are portrayed. This holds true if the audience is the general public, students, or professional scientists. The Science Communication Lab is committed to showcasing diverse scientific voices. It recognizes that science has structural injustices and biases that can be confronted through science storytelling and education.
Science is not just an accumulation of facts; it’s a way of seeing the world, a process of exploration, undertaken by a global community. The Science Communication Lab highlights narratives that delve into how scientists conceive of research questions, plan and conduct experiments, and analyze and interpret data. These stories will include the uncertainties, messiness, and iterative nature of experimentation.
What are the big science stories that need explaining? For which subject matter do educators need resources? By being embedded in the scientific community and by building a strong network of educators, the Science Communication Lab is committed to producing the content that will have the biggest impact. Oftentimes, these are subjects that are not easy to explain, but that makes the need to tackle them all the greater.
Science is a complicated subject matter, and the process of discovery is rarely simple or straightforward. To edit out the complexity and nuance of science in telling its stories is to do a disservice to the nature of the enterprise. It also does a disservice to the audience. Rather than shrink from complicated subject matter, our programs find ways to embrace nuance while also setting a high bar for delivering information clearly and concisely.
In order to best serve educational communities, Science Communication Lab content is designed for deeper learning and comprehension through clear storytelling that explores the process, methods, nature, and personalities involved in the experimental pursuit of knowledge. These types of teaching tools are additive to what is available in traditional textbooks or classroom settings and are thus developed for maximal inclusion in existing curricula.
Experimentation is at heart of the Science Communication Lab mission. Scientific research progresses by taking chances and challenging old ideas with new approaches. That’s also true for progress in science communication.
Experimentation is useless without evaluation. The Science Communication Lab is joining in partnerships with educators, social scientists, and video production professionals to analyze the impact of its work and to use that knowledge to iterate on future approaches.
In 2006, with YouTube still in its infancy, UCSF professor Ron Vale had, at what at the time was, a revolutionary idea. What if eminent scientists recorded seminars on video and shared them online for free to a global community of students and researchers?
Vale called the initiative iBiology and that original seed has now blossomed into a world leader in video science communication, known for innovation and impact.
Over the last 5 years, numerous federal grants, strong foundational support, and success in the educational and entertainment markets have enabled a new array of content that has formed the backbone of the Science Communication Lab. The Lab brings together its educational arm iBiology and the Explorer's Guide to Biology with its filmmaking arm the Wonder Collaborative in an integrated and unifying structure.
In education, iBiology has expanded its mission by adding a suite of online professional development courses. It is now experimenting with short films produced for classroom use at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Most recently, the Explorer’s Guide to Biology was launched to re-imagine written and video resources for undergraduate biology education. In filmmaking, the Wonder Collaborative was created to produce content for the general public, including feature-length documentary films.