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IOW Colloquium


IOW Colloquium: Concept und FAQs

1) What is the IOW Colloquium and what is its goal?

The IOW Colloquium is the podium for coastal and marginal sea research at IOW. It is jointly organized by the four sections Physical Oceanography and Instrumentation, Marine Chemistry, Marine Geology and Biological Oceanography of the IOW. The IOW Colloquium is an interdisciplinary natural science colloquium where explicitly no specific technical lectures are given that would be incomprehensible to a large part of the audience. It is the declared inten-tion of the IOW colloquium to bridge the interdisciplinary separation of the different research streams at the IOW by a joint event. The alternation of lectures from PHY, CHE, BIO, GEO should also contribute to this. The lectures report on current topics of coastal and marginal sea research and reflect the complex interplay of physics, chemistry, biology and geology in the study areas. The goal of the colloquium is to learn from each other and to identify intersec-tions in order to answer open questions in an interdisciplinary way.

2) When and where does the IOW Colloquium take place?

The IOW Colloquium will take place throughout the year, 1x per month in the lecture hall and online. Date is always the first Friday of the month from 10:30-11:30 h online (see intranet for permanent zoom link) and in the lecture hall of the IOW (so-called hybrid event). The date promotes the compatibility of the event with teaching at the Universities of Rostock and Greifswald, with research in the individual AGs and with family, especially for colleagues* who come from outside.

Additional guest lectures by selected luminaries/high potentials take place sporadically on designated special dates 3-4 times a year.

The permanent online link to the event can be viewed on the intranet as well as on the analog posters in the IOW.

3) Who presents?

The lecturers are the designated experts in the respective field at the IOW, who want to present their field of work in this context to the interdisciplinary collegium. Therefore, the speakers are always scientists with a PhD. The IOW colloquium is an easy opportunity, especially for students and new colleagues*h/s/t, to get to know all important fields of work of current coastal and marginal sea research at the IOW in the course of one year. The presentation will be kept generally understandable to reflect the broad professional orientation of the institute and to stimulate interdisciplinary discussions.

4) What format could a fruitful talk have in the IOW colloquium?

On this question, the ASLO homepage on science communication is a veritable treasure trove of ideas (, excerpted here and adapted somewhat for our purposes:

A talk at the IOW Colloquium aims to stimulate lively discussions between sections and research foci. Therefore, a talk at the IOW Colloquium is not the same as a talk given to your colleagues* in the section seminars. It is more like a lecture for the purpose of scientific public relations. The goal is different, and therefore you should never just use slides from a publication or a technical talk for the IOW Colloquium. Ideally, your talk at the IOW Colloquium will be a conversation between sections, using little to no technical jargon and focusing on those aspects of the topic that have interdisciplinary relevance.

A talk is always 30 minutes long and given in English. When preparing it, think about the audience members* from the other sections in the audience. What prior knowledge do they have? What are their interests? Connect with them about the ideas and things they care about. Speak in a "common language" with them. Respect the strengths and limitations of your listeners. Think carefully about the words you use when explaining your research. Technical terminology (aka jargon) plays an important role in science, but someone who hasn't studied crabs for years probably doesn't know what a megalopa is, and you shouldn't expect them to. Can you assume that someone with a scientific background beyond your discipline knows this term? If not, don't use it - come up with a simple, clear alternative. Never use a 1-euro word when a 10-cent word will do. The IOW colloquium is not about "dumbing down" your research, but rather about starting a conversation about it in a common language. If you use these communication methods, your audience will be more interested and knowledgeable, and will better understand why your science is important and where there are points of connection for common project ideas.

Your audience has limited time and a limited attention span. So sit down, do a little brainstorming, and come up with a few (1-3) messages to take away. Think: What do I want people to think, feel or know when they leave? Draft your messages based on these goals. Try to convey them in interesting, surprising or visually appealing ways. Captivate people with your message and then explain the science behind it.

One way to structure your message is the "ABT" formula, developed by science communicator Randy Olson. "ABT" stands for "And, But, Therefore" and is the framework around which you build your message. Example: Let's say you are researching how hypoxic "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico have affected benthic communities. Your "ABT" might look something like this: Every summer, large areas of oxygen-depleted water from agricultural runoff occur in the Gulf of Mexico and can kill marine life that is unable to escape from these "dead zones," BUT we don't know which creatures are affected, so I am collecting samples from these "dead zones" so that we can better understand their effects on marine life in the Gulf. This template turns your research into an easily digestible narrative. It tells people what is happening, why it matters, and what you are doing to research this problem or issue.

Don't use too many diagrams. If you are going to use a chart, take the time to explain to the audience what it shows. An alternative is to simplify your data into conceptual charts that show the trends and key messages. Don't talk down to the audience or use jargon. Do NOT rely on slides. The focus should be on you and your audience, not on a block of text. Instead, use interesting pictures and visual elements in your presentation. Show pictures of where you are studying, the organisms you are studying, and you and your lab group doing the research.