Sharing the wonders of science over the radio

Faculty of Science
Aerial view of the campus
Communicating science to the public in an accessible manner is one of the most important tasks of an academic scientist.

Being able to effectively popularize scientific jargon into understandable knowledge allows the public to comprehend what researchers are doing, to understand its importance and accept that public funds are used to finance the research. One of the many ways a professor can reach an audience is through media interviews and chronicles on the television or the radio, which is exactly what the late Professor Julie Morand-Ferron undertook. In fact, she became a regular contributor to the “Moteur de recherche” radio show on ICI Radio-Canada Première.

Since its inception, radio has played an important role in bridging the gap between scientists and the public. For science communication, radio shows offer several advantages over traditional newsprint and television beyond just the convenience to the listener. Unlike television and printed articles, an audio format like a radio show allows the audience to hear the real voice of the scientist, immerse themselves in the conversation and reflect on the importance of science.

Professor Julie Morand-Ferron
Professor Julie Morand-Ferron

In the fall of 2020, Prof. Morand-Ferron was invited on the show to discuss topics related to her research on animal intelligence. Following that first appearance, she was frequently invited as an expert guest on the radio show to answer questions from the public about the behavior of birds and insects, given that her research focused on cognition and behavior in these animals. The radio show has a wide reach across all of Canada; thus, a broad audience has access to interesting scientific discoveries and innovations. In her most recent appearance in May 2021, Prof. Morand-Ferron answered questions on the effects of domestic cats on bird populations. This was widely shared and posted on social media.

Prof. Morand-Ferron’s participation in this radio show led to additional outreach opportunities. She received invitations to several virtual conferences aimed at the general public and answered participants’ questions on animal behavior. This opportunity allowed her to study related topics, which were not always directly related to her research. With all these knowledge mobilization and outreach opportunities, Prof. Morand-Ferron gained extensive experience in the art of communicating science to the public.

Tragically, Professor Julie Morand-Ferron passed away in February 2022, leaving behind a beloved family, friends, and numerous scientific colleagues at the University of Ottawa, in Canada and around the world. Her legacy lives on through her research, as well as through the many ways she sought to share her love of science with a wider audience. You can access past episodes of Moteur de recherche on ICI Première - Radio-Canada to learn more about Prof. Morand-Ferron’s inspiring research and the exciting world of animal behavior.