“Portal to the Public.” Is a new NSF-supported program to help researchers and STEM professionals share science with the public to promote appreciation and understanding of current science research. Portal to the Public focuses on enhancing face-to-face interactions between you and a few people rather than emphasizing mass communications.

The Portal approach has been designed and refined through NSF and IMLS funding to the Pacific Science Center (PSC). The original principal investigator Dennis Schatz is a UW-Madison alum in astronomy and a member of the Wisconsin Union Directorate as a student. That combination presaged no small part of Dennis’ career: he was for many years Vice President for Education at PSC in Seattle, Washington. He is still on staff at PSC even as he serves as an NSF program officer. When Dennis proposed Portal in 2007, he envisioned it as a way for researchers at universities to connect to the resources of science museums & science centers as places to engage the public. Many of us here at UW-Madison share Dennis’ combination of a passion for science as exploring the unknown and a commitment to sharing science with learners of all ages.

You can find out more about Portal to the Public on theirwebsite.
Early in September 2014 UW-Madison became a member of the Portal to the Public network. The UW Portal team includes Tom Zinnen, Biotech Center; Megan Madsen, WIPAC; Sara Kobilka, Institute for Chemical Education; Kevin Niemi, WISCIENCE; Travis Tangen, WARF; and Dolly Ledin, WISCIENCE.

(Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)
(Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)
We are delighted to note that UW-Madison is a pioneer in Portal to the Public: the other 35 institutions have all been science museums, science centers, zoos, arboretums, and nature centers, some within universities. We look forward to the opportunity to find ways to adapt the Portal approach of connecting researchers to public audiences to the particular environment of public land-grant research universities. Portal can enhance the already remarkable resources that strengthen the commitment to the Wisconsin Idea and to work in the public service mission of UW-Madison.
Portal to the Public at UW-Madison will be implemented through Science Alliance and will be called the Wisconsin Idea STEM Fellows Program. Researchers and STEM professionals of any age and at any career stage will be encouraged to participate.

Fellows training will build on their prior experience and extend their talents. By providing structured, short-term training and long-term connections, the Wisconsin Idea STEM fellows program uniquely expands the array of training already available on campus, such as the CIRTL course for graduate students and post-docs, the WISCIENCE course for undergraduates, and volunteer training sessions provided, for example, by the Arboretum and Town Center.

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