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Winter 2014
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Creature Feature
How to tell a science story.
A krill contemplates her life’s direction. A scientist overcomes his fear of worms. A bird dances his way into the heart of his mate. These characters—their joy and pain, their struggle to live, breathe, and reproduce—can all be found in the stunningly simple podcasts you can watch at www.creaturecast.org.

Assistant Professor of Biology Casey Dunn was looking for a way to teach people—students, other scientists, interested lay people, anyone, really—about his research. In part, it was because his grant from the National Science Foundation required him to. But Dunn wanted to find an innovative and interesting way to do it.

“I really enjoy podcasts,” Dunn says. “They struck me as an effective and relatively inexpensive way to communicate science, and I wanted to communicate science with stories.”

Indeed, Dunn sounds more like a storyteller than a scientist when he describes his motivation.

“Often science communication focuses on conveying facts in isolation, but I strongly feel that … it should be cohesive, and I mean that literally—I want to use narrative structure to talk about science,” Dunn says. “In some ways that is more true to the way science is actually done. I wanted to see if we could focus on character-driven approaches to talking about science.” With students in his lab, Dunn conceived Creature Cast. Sophia Tintori ’09 was an undergraduate in Dunn’s lab at the time and began working on the first video, a piece about iridescence in squid skin.

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