Assistant Professor


Photo by Jason Jaacks

“The aim is to create inclusive science communication and really engage the public equitably by bringing all those people into the same room, the same conversation, from the start,” said Jaacks. To accomplish this, Jaacks is collaborating with Clinical Associate Professor Sunshine Menezes, a national thought leader on inclusive science communication and the director of URI’s Metcalf Institute. One project that benefits from URI’s philosophy of integrating communications early in projects is a Rhode Island Sea Grant program that examines the effects of microplastics in Narragansett Bay. Jaacks said that URI is collaborating with Rhode Island PBS and Dori LaBella, Science Department chair at Pilgrim High School in Warwick, RI to develop a series of videos aimed at a K-12 audience. The videos will focus on the microplastics research but will also include discussions of behavioral change or regulatory oversight to hold companies accountable. The videos will be accessible through Rhode Island PBS’s website and available to classrooms across the state. Additionally, the videos will become part of PBS LearningMedia, a nationally syndicated educational video platform. “Video content produced to those academic standards will be accessible anywhere in the country through PBS LearningMedia,” said Jaacks. They get about a million

unique views per month with materials that are being used in classrooms all over the United States and beyond. We’ll be adding to that library with the stories coming out of this Rhode Island Sea Grant research project.” Jeannette Riley, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is excited about the impact Jaack’s work will have. “What Jason and others are bringing to the table is not just teaching our students the importance of science communication,” Riley said. “What they’re doing is a service for all of us, and this will help the public understand what’s going on in our world in terms of advancements in science and technology. He’s making visible problems that we have in our environment that we need to address.” Jaacks said he sees media as a critical component in the whole process of addressing plastics pollution. “The ultimate goal here is to create visuals that are going to stop people in their tracks and inspire change,” he said. “That’s the kind of the work that’s driven me for as long as I’ve been making images with environmental science.”

URI Initiative Plastics: Land to Sea SPRING | 2021 Page 49

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