short takes

Short Takes Offer the Perfect Nerd-to-Speed Ratio

Posted on by Samantha Porter. This entry was posted in Engaging Interests. Bookmark the permalink.

Caption: Every 3-4 months (in conjunction with tripod/instrument maintenance), Emily Eidam, Graduate Student from the UW School of Oceanography, surveys the water and seabed offshore of the river mouth. The device in the background of this photo is a “Shipek,” which is basically a spring-loaded shovel that collects a handful of sediment from the seabed. Photo by Emily Eidam.


My academic background is in philosophy, and though I love learning about science, sometimes lectures about active research are one part fascinating and two parts incomprehensible. The content can be lost for me beneath an avalanche of jargon that I know is valuable for the research community but leaves me feeling confused and isolated from what just happened. This is why one of my favorite events that the Burke Museum puts on is a fast-paced exercise in intellectual brevity called Short Takes. The premise is that experts make the subject matter digestible to the average person–quickly. They have less than six minutes to talk passionately about their research with 20 slides that auto-advance at a rate of 17 seconds each. Think graduate lecture meets speed dating. Conversations are sparked, dendrites grow, and bridges are built between the lay person and the scientific community!

The next installment of Short Takes will be on February 18th at the Neptune Theatre at 7pm. Ten scientists will talk about their current research on the removal of the two dams on the Elwha River in Olympic National Forest. This is the largest dam removal in history and the world is watching. The changes on the river are huge and this event is a chance to hear directly from the people involved in monitoring and managing the outcome. I’m looking forward to hearing about sediment changes, aquatic food webs, and river otters, but I can’t wait to see scientists try and pack their message into six short minutes.

Short Takes
Take a look at the list of impressive speakers here. Who are you most interested in watching squirm?


Sam PorterSamantha Porter is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture. From pangolins and marbled murreletts to clovis points and trilobites, Sam is always amazed by the depth of collections that are held at the Museum. When she’s not out in the community telling people about the fascinating things at the Burke she can be found sneaking around the molecular lab in a lab coat pretending she’s a scientist.