Heard on Campus: President Barron kicks off ScienceWriters 2019

October 27, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State President Eric Barron welcomed roughly 500 of the nation’s top science writers, reporters and editors to the University Park campus for ScienceWriters 2019 — an annual conference held by the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing at a different host university each year.

“Science communication has never been so important for the well-being of society… We need you to illuminate the findings that impact so many lives,” Barron told the crowd of science journalists from media outlets including the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NPR.

“Discovering and disseminating new knowledge is not just our superpower, it’s our mission,” Barron said of the University’s $968 million research endeavor. “The mission of a land-grant university is to serve society. And we take that to heart, very, very seriously.”

Over four days of panels, workshops, presentations on cutting-edge research and tours of Penn State’s many state-of-the-art research facilities, Barron said he hopes ScienceWriters 2019 helps demonstrate “not just the quality of research, but the breadth of research that goes on at this institution.”

“We broke all-time records for federal funding [for scientific research]. Most people say $968 million and change — I say we’re only $32 million away from a billion-dollar research enterprise,” Barron said. “That tells you just how much is going on here.”

“I think it’s a testament to our faculty, and I think it’s a testament to our attitude as an institution that wants to work on big topics: human health, energy, water, food security and promoting economic development — all to improve people’s quality of life.”

One example of Penn State’s commitment to impact that Baron shared is Invent Penn State, which he described “as our efforts to translate our research into economic development in the commonwealth” — an effort that has seen tremendous success in launching new businesses, creating jobs and fostering student and faculty entrepreneurship.

“We now have innovation hubs in communities, not on campuses, within 30 miles of 96 percent of the population of Pennsylvania,” Barron said. “We’re looking at new products, new companies, and taking what research is going on at Penn State and making sure it gets out into society.”

“Penn State really places great value on research. It drives the commonwealth, the nation and the world, especially when we realize how important universities are today in innovation,” Barron said. “And in the same breath, all of that is diminished if we don’t get those ideas out into the marketplace. That is what you do, and I want to thank you for it.”

“I want to thank you for all of your efforts to promote a greater understanding of this world,” Barron concluded. “You are an important partner to what all universities are doing.”

ScienceWriters 2019 is co-sponsored by Penn State’s Office of Strategic Communications and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, who worked together to bring the conference to campus.

Last Updated October 30, 2019