Thursday, August 4, 2016

Can you describe what you do at work in 90 seconds – with a camera in your face?

This summer, M.L. "Suresh" Ragahavan, professor of biomedical engineering, was among nine faculty members at the University of Iowa who learned to describe their research work in 90 seconds in a one-and-a-half day media training workshop to facilitate better communication about their research to journalists and the public.

Conducted annually, the Communicating Ideas Workshop training takes the research mission of UI to the next level by considering how faculty research can frame public discussion and increase public understanding. The workshop included a panel discussion with media representatives from Iowa Public Radio, KCRG, and national consulting group Frank N. Magid Associates in addition to lectures and Q&A with university communication staff and School of Journalism and Mass Communication faculty.

UI Department of Biomedical Engineering Professor and Director of Graduate Studies M.L. Suresh Raghavan participated in this year’s workshop and said he hopes all professional academics will learn to think both inside and outside the classroom when communicating about their area of expertise. Not only is it consistent with UI’s mission to create and advance new knowledge, but it ensures that the public has unbiased, factual information and an informed public can make well-informed investments in higher education.

“Workshops like these allow me to better leverage the occasional fifteen minutes of fame at my disposal to communicate what we do and how we do them effectively,” said Raghavan, whose research involves the development artificial arteries. “It made me feel fortunate to be part of a university that proactively seeks to enhance the softer skill sets of its faculty and staff.”

Ragahavan's video is available at

Other College of Engineering faculty researchers who previously have participated are:

Sarah Vigmostad, associate professor of biomedical engineering:

David Cwiertny, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering

Tim Marler, former research scientist at the UI Center of Computer-Aided Design

Gabriele Villarini, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering,

The Communicating Ideas Workshop is a training tool developed by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, which provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.