Cornell’s First Science Communication and Public Engagement Minor Graduates Tackle Health, Racial and Medical Issues


Benjamin Fields ’20 and Serena Stern ’20 wrote to The Sun with how the science communication and public engagement minor has helped them in their post-Cornell endeavors.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans do not believe the actual coronavirus death toll is as high as its official count. Scholars have suggested that COVID-19 health literacy is a serious and underestimated problem, making the importance of communicating science more prevalent than ever.

The science communication and public engagement minor was designed for science, technology, engineering and math majors who want to break the divide between scientists and the general public by translating complicated science concepts into more digestible terms — something that is particularly pertinent to a global pandemic.

Benjamin Fields ’20 and Serena Stern ’20 were the first two graduates to receive the science communication and public engagement minor. After graduating from Cornell, the two are now applying the skills they learned from the minor to writing .

“It is important to be a great science communicator because if [you are] not, people’s biases and ignorance will rule the world,” Fields wrote in an email to The Sun. “This is exemplified in our handling of COVID-19, the climate crisis, and many other things. We need new scientific and innovative ways within science communication itself to defeat backward thinking.”

Fields just started his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in sociology and demography and is currently working on a book that describes the African American diet from a sociological and public health perspective.

He is also doing engagement work with the Black Economists Network based in the U.K., which aims to develop relationships that can funnel opportunities to Black economists by finding jobs, co-hosting events and conducting research reports.

Fields noted that he became interested in science communication because he wanted

IMPROVATE brings together African nations and Israeli tech companies to tackle food security challenges


Tony Blair: This is a huge opportunity to help Africa fulfil its potential as a major source of food, not just for Africans, but for the world

IMPROVATE founder & chair Irina Nevzlin: “During the current time of crisis, leaders need to unite and work together to implement common goals and solve common problems.”

TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — IMPROVATE held a first of a kind conference on “food security” with the aim of connecting Israeli technology companies with African nations tackle the continent’s urgent challenge of feeding a rapidly growing population.

Agriculture Ministers of five African nations, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) presented to Israeli technology companies the challenges and problems faced by their countries.

Watch the conference:

The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Rt.Hon. Mr. Tony Blair, opened the conference, stating: “Food security is a huge challenge, and it was a challenge before COVID, which has just deepened that challenge… This is a huge opportunity to use technology to help lives, to improve lives, to save lives, to improve the quality of agriculture in Africa, to help Africa fulfil its potential as a major source of food, not just for Africans, but for the world… This is something that is transformative, groundbreaking and will change the world.”

Senior African ministers and officials participated in the conference: Mr. Joseph Antoine Kasonga Mukuta – Minister of Agriculture, Democratic Republic of Congo;  Mr.