“I’ve always struggled with this broader impacts thing, and I know people who won’t apply to NSF because they don’t understand broader impacts.”

In order to make sense of broader impacts, MU researcher Donald Burke-Aguero read through the NSF objectives for broader impacts and the examples of activities and came up with a list of ideas about how to fulfill the requirement in a way that interested him. After generating some ideas, he found existing programs on campus that complimented his thoughts about training the next generation of scientists and engaging the public. Saturday Morning Science affords researchers the opportunity to explain their research to the general public, and the Hughes Fellows Program puts communication students and scientists together in an effort to improve science communication and reporting.

Burke-Aguero’s broader impacts activities focus on increasing public engagement with and understanding of science and training the next generation of scientists. In addition to mentoring students in his lab and giving public talks, he also works with the Manager of Marketing and Communications for the Bond Life Sciences Center and the MU News Bureau to put out press releases on his research. When asked why he thought it was important to communicate with the public about his research, Burke-Aguero answered, “I want to show the public what I am doing with their money.” He also mentioned that working on crafting his research message for the public has a positive effect on his scientific writing as well: “When I work hard on explaining what I do to any given audience it helps me communicate with other audiences.” Working on press releases in turn helps him write stronger research abstracts.

Burke-Aguero was smart about his broader impacts plans—he read the NSF guidelines about broader impacts, used his interests to generate a plan, and utilized MU resources to help him achieve his goals. For more information on broader impacts resources at Mizzou, contact the Connector at theconnector@missouri.edu.