Hollie Smith receives research award in science communication

By Kendall Dionisio

The strive for accurate reporting is an essential need in the field of journalism, especially when it comes to science communication.

URI’s Dr. Hollie Smith, an assistant professor of communication studies and marine affairs, has devoted much time and work to these issues in collaboration with the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting and URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences.

Now, her work has been recognized.

This past August, Smith was selected as one of ten recipients of the National Academy of Science’s Sackler Colloquium Early Career Research Award. This recognition is a result of her research with the Metcalf Institute, focusing on how journalists cover science and how innovative approaches to science communication training can bridge the gap between the media and scientific institutions.

“What’s really important to me is that if science isn’t covered accurately, then I feel like people may make decisions based on incomplete or biased information,” Smith said. “The work that I do with the Metcalf Institute is really thinking about how to work with journalists to deepen their understanding about science… and then get them to talk about that with their audience in a way that they can understand.”

Smith was also awarded the Harrington School of Communication and Media’s first-ever Faculty Research Award.

“The Harrington School’s support for my research has been critical to its success,” Smith said. “Without receiving the faculty research award and getting a course release, I wouldn’t have had as much time to devote to the kind of research that I’m doing. Also, just knowing that you have a group of people behind you that support your work and want you to excel is motivating.”

Smith hopes that her work will continue to advance scientifically accurate news coverage of environmental and scientific issues.