visiting professorship for science communicationFourth Nature MARSILIUS Visiting Professorship

The visiting professorship for science communication, established in the winter term 2018/2019, is a joint initiative of the Veranstaltungsforum of Holtzbrinck Berlin, the Klaus Tschira Foundation (KTS) and Ruperto Carola.

With KTS funding, experts are invited to impart in a specialised programme what constitutes high-quality reporting on scientific work and findings. At the same time, they are encouraged to initiate a broad-based discussion on new forms of exchange between science and the public.

With the establishment of the professorship, the three partners hope to sharpen awareness of the growing importance of good science communication. The visiting professorship is intended to aid society in shaping the future through science in the face of increasingly complex research.

Springer Nature Visiting Professorship, signing the contract

A champion of excellent science communication and quality journalism is usually appointed as a guest professor each semester. Along with the furtherance these aims, young researchers are also trained to better communicate their research and findings to the public. The Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship is located at the Marsilius Kolleg of Ruperto Carola, which serves as a bridge between the scientific cultures in Heidelberg.


Fourth Nature MARSILIUS Visiting Professorship: IONICA SMEETS

Ionica Smeets is professor of science communication at Leiden University, where she focuses on the main topics "Bridging the gap between experts and the general public"and "Authenticity in informal learning". Ionica Smeets studied computer science and applied mathematics at Delft University of Technology. In 2010 she finished her PhD "On continued fraction algorithms". Since then, Ionica Smeets has worked as a freelance science journalist for the newspaper De Volkskrant, among others, and she has conveyed scientific topics to the general public in various TV-formats.

Ionica Smeets has written numerous articles and books on knowledge transfer, such as her latest book Maths & Life, which deals with the teaching of useful and real-life mathematics at school. Additionally, she has been the Chair of Science Communication at Netherlands-Flanders Communication Association since 2018.

Ionica Smeets


The 4th Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship kicked off with a fireside chat on 23 May 2022.

Public Lecture

Lying with numbers

Dienstag, 12. Juli 2022, 19:30 Uhr
INF 130.1

Numbers don't lie, but they can give a very distorted picture of the truth. What does it mean if the average German earns more than you? Does a university discriminate when it rejects a higher percentage of women than men? And is ice cream the cause of drownings? Ionica Smeets takes you into a world of surprising paradoxes, misleading graphs and cheerful logic. Afterwards you can no longer be fooled by numbers.


Workshop 1

How can you communicate more effectively?

Target group: Advanced students and PhD candidates
24 May 2022, 10am – 1pm
INF 130.1, Seminar Room 2

There is a lot of research on how to communicate effectively - we will discuss theory that is useful for anyone who communicates about science. Why is it so hard to convince people with facts (for instance in debates about vaccines or climate change)? Should scientists avoid framing? How do you avoid using jargon that can lead to misunderstanding? In the workshop we will do some small exercises that show how easily well-meant communication strategies can backfire and we will show strategies for developing evidence-based ones.

Plakat Workshops Nature Marsilius Gastprofessur 2022

Workshop 2

How to reward science communication in academia?

Target group: Professors and administrators with managing positions
25 May 2022, 12.30-1.30pm
INF 130.1, Club Room

Whilst most academics agree that science communication is a responsibility of universities, it is hard to implement science communication in the existing reward systems. The Netherlands is pioneering new policy instruments, with an evidence-based evaluation matrix for science communication project proposals and a new funding call from The Dutch Research Council aimed at scientists who seek the dialogue with society. What lessons can you take away from these instruments for your own institute?

Workshop 3

How to write a popular-scientific column?

Target group: Advanced students and PhD candidates
2 June 2022, 10am – 2pm
INF 130.1, Seminar Room 2/HS

A column gives you the opportunity to write about science from a personal view. You can show the process of scientific research and not just the results, you can add jokes to help readers through technical details and you can present big ideas to readers whom you normally would not reach. Ionica Smeets has been a science columnist for Dutch national paper De Volkskrant since 2010 and shares all her best tips and tricks with you. We will talk about structure, topic choice, metaphors and the writing process. We will do short writing assignments during the workshop.

Workshop fully booked.

Workshop 4

How to measure the impact of science communication activities?

Target group: PhD candidates, Postdocs and Professors
31 May 2022, 10am – 2pm
INF 130.1, Seminar Room 2

What is the effect of your science communication and/or public engagement activities? Are you reaching your intended target audience? And do the activities have the desired effect on them? Researchers from Leiden and Utrecht have developed an evaluation toolbox that can be used to map the impact of science communication. In this workshop we will discuss the ins and outs of evaluating science communication activities and how you can use these tools to bring your activities to a higher level.

Workshop fully booked.

Workshop 5

How to give a great popular-scientific talk?

Target group: PhD candidates, Postdocs and Professors
13 July 2022, 10am – 2pm and
20 July 2022, 10am – 2pm

INF 130.1, Seminar Room 2/HS

A workshop on presenting science for a broad audience. We will discuss narrative techniques, the use of objects, great openings and much more. And most excitingly, each of the participants will present a cover of an existing talk in their own field.

Workshop fully booked.