FOJBI Friday: Meet Christina Lebonville, Goofy In The Name Of Science

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The "Friends of Joe's Big Idea" is a vibrant community of talented people we think you should meet. Our feature FOJBI Friday introduces some of these cool communicators of science, in their own words. This week: Christina Lebonville.

Background

I'm a doctoral student in the Psychology & Neuroscience Department's behavioral neuroscience program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. My work looks at the neural intersection of opiates with learning, memory and the immune system.

Importance of science communication

Science doesn't just belong to researchers. Science is society's way of finding out how the universe works. We use scientific knowledge to improve our quality of life. Without effective communication of new scientific knowledge, society's progress will lag far behind the progress of scientific discovery. Misconceptions about science can prolong suffering and lead to inappropriate actions, whereas science literacy empowers people to manage their own lives for their benefit. Plus it's incredibly inspiring.

Current projects

My graduate career has been a series of experiments in the lab and outside of it. I've dabbled in many different forms of science communication, including the Obviously Oblivious Podcast. I've done some blogging as well as outreach with kids through Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. I'm teaching undergraduates in the fall (a class called "Learning" — so meta!) and science events for adults who like to get their nerd on over beers. Most recently, I've tried video. Want to know why Oreos are not as addictive as cocaine (despite the news in 2013)? I can explain!

Future plans

I want to change the culture of academia from within. Graduate students benefit from learning how to communicate science. For me, it is the antidote to lab burnout. Having fun with science gets me jazzed up to churn out data! It reminds me of when I was a kid watching Bill Nye and makes me realize what made me go into science in the first place. Science is awesome (inspiring, hopeful, wondrous, surprising). Grad school has a way of making you forget that, and it shouldn't. As busy as research and teaching will keep me, I'll make time for doing something goofy in the name of science literacy.

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