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SCOPE Program rising in numbers and influence

Free and open to any graduate student, SCOPE is an NSF-funded online science communication program designed for graduate students without access to in person training. The program, which just celebrated its three year anniversary in March of 2022, was created to be as flexible as possible while being held entirely online. Based on the highly successful Research Communication Training Program developed at CIERA as part of the NSF-funded GK-12 Reach for the Stars program and now run by Northwestern’s Graduate School, SCOPE was developed with funding from the National Science Foundation, through the IDEAS (Integrated Data-Driven Discovery in Earth and Astrophysical Sciences, Vicky Kalogera PI) Research Traineeship program. The program is composed of traditional classroom components like readings and homework assignments in addition to uploaded presentations and discussion boards.

Since its launch in 2019, 129 people representing 93 universities and institutions, from over 17 countries worldwide from Nepal to Mexico have completed the course. This program has proven to be an invaluable resource for graduate and postdoctoral researchers worldwide with its global appeal and exceptional curriculum.  

Sadie Witkowski

Sadie Witkowski, expert science communicator, led the development of the SCOPE and manages the program. When asked about her role in the program and what makes it so exciting to be a part of, Sadie shared, “I’ve been so proud to work on SCOPE from its inception all the way to our current course offering for students all over the world. It’s such a cool program that builds the basic communication skills that students need not just for communicating with the public, but also future steps in their careers. Whether they stay in academia or leave for industry, they’ll need to know how to communicate the complex research they do in a clear manner. That’s really where SCOPE comes in. And of course, our module creators did an incredible job on each part of the course.”

Participants in the course develop speaking and presentation skills, practice creating data visualizations using graphic design principles, and learn to adapt their research story to their audience. Graduate students learn how the roles of science journalists, university press offices, and researchers come together to further science communication. 

As SCOPE continues to grow and prepare for its next cohort, Sadie is proud of the continued success and new attention the program has been garnering. “SCOPE has really grown organically over the past few years. We’ve now had multiple people ask us if we can make a version for their company or organization. We’re thinking about expanding who we reach. And of course, I’m thrilled to be going to this year’s San Diego Comicon to represent SCOPE on a panel talking about the importance of narrative in communicating scientific topics!”

SCOPE will kick off its summer offering on June 20, 2022. We invite all those that are interested to sign up for free today at this link. The CIERA community is honored to have Sadie spearheading this innovative program and congratulate her on being invited to serve as a featured panelist at San Diego’s Comicon in July.


By Darvell Jones