I enjoyed the direct in-person feedback that allowed me to use a policy perspective to discover new angles on my current research program. Whether it be grants or manuscripts, this new perspective helped me strengthen the clarity, content, and impact of my writing. I also enjoyed having a regular forum to discuss challenges that I was facing with my fellow faculty members and get feedback from Debbie on solutions. Finally, my overall favorite aspect was the team atmosphere. We celebrated when folks had "wins" and we commiserated when we had setbacks. It was a very supportive environment for getting out of your comfort zone.
The BFF Program enhanced the scope and clarity of my research program. Debbie does a great job of helping you distill ideas into impactful statements and questions. This skill is transferable to grant and manuscript writing. Putting together a logic model for a policy document with Debbie's help made putting together similar models in grants way easier. Same for manuscripts. At the end of the day, the academy got me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to step back and bring new skills and new ideas to my research. And these results are tangible. I was awarded an internal seed grant from my university that directly stemmed from activities in the academy.
If you are a traditionally trained academic, this course is highly innovative because it makes you step outside the way you normally think. You learn how to communicate your science to the public and enhance its impact. These communications skills are not usually a part of our academic training. As scientists, our “go to” is to get into the weeds and pile on the jargon. This course provides the skill set to focus on the bigger picture and develop direct policy implications of your research.
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of Geology and Geography, Eberly College
The BFF Program helped me to see that I did not need to change my research to be more policy relevant, I needed to learn how to communicate the research I was already doing in a policy relevant way.
The BFF Program taught me to translate existing research findings into policy briefs, to ensure I am communicating findings in a way that is understandable and engaging for policymakers. The Academy has also given me the skills to design new research projects to be policy relevant from the ground up, which has strengthened major grant proposals, especially in terms of broader impacts and synergistic activity sections.
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Statler College
I valued receiving frequent feedback on materials like logic models and policy briefs to produce products that are easy to understand, relevant to policymakers, and effective at communicating the policy relevance of my research. I also really valued working with a small cohort of researchers studying similar topics. It was helpful to hear about policy implications for their research and brainstorming together ways that our work can be translated to policymakers.
I am better informed about the science and technology policy process and the ways that my research can be effectively communicated to policymakers.
Materials were clearly presented with numerous examples demonstrating applications and relevance to science and technology policy. Debbie's input helped me to see how these materials could be best applied to addressing policy implications of my own research.
A combination of self-paced materials and frequent individualized feedback helped me to integrate the BFF Program with my research, teaching, and outreach goals.