Vibrant symbiosis: Achieving reciprocal science outreach through biological art

by Lindsey E. Lopes, Sarah J. Waldis, Stephanie M. Terrell, Kristin A. Lindgren, Louise K. Charkoudian

Scientific outreach efforts traditionally involve formally trained scientists teaching the general public about the methods, significance, and excitement of science. We recently experimented with an alternative “symbiotic outreach” model that prioritizes building a reciprocal relationship between formally trained and “outsider” scientists to facilitate active two-way communication. Herein, we present the results of our outreach effort involving college students and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities working together to make biological and multimedia art. By discussing the steps others can take to cultivate reciprocal outreach within their local communities, we hope to lower the barrier for widespread adoption of similar approaches and ultimately to decrease the gap between formally trained scientists and the general public.

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