PGS: Communication of Geoscience Information to the Public

The March meeting of the Potomac Geophysical Society will be held March 18th at the Fort Myer Officers’ Club in Arlington, VA ( in the Campaign Room.

This month’s talks will be: The Nexus of Effective Communication of Geoscience Information to the Public and the Profession by Patrick Leahy (American Geological Institute) and Science and Communicating with Media by Angela Botzer (National Geographic).


Leahy: The American Geological Institute (AGI) is unique globally in its mission to service to the geosciences worldwide. AGI is a federation of 46 scientific and professional geoscience organizations located in Alexandria, Virginia. The federation represents 120,000 geoscientists and covers essentially every aspect of the geosciences. Effective communication for and service to the geosciences involves multiple, yet interconnected audiences. AGI accomplishes its communication and service mission in several ways. First and foremost by providing a robust global database of geoscience references numbering more than 3 million citations that supports the research community. Secondly, to increase both public awareness and inform the professional community, AGI publishes a monthly news magazine, Earth. Other areas of communication important to both the public and the profession include K-16 education, geoscience workforce supply and demand information, robust interactions with government leaders, and an annual earth science week (October 10-16, 2010) celebration. All elements of this communication strategy face challenges and present opportunities which will be described.

Botzer: Communicating with the media is crucial to scientific research, but can sometimes lead to frustration, misinformation, and misrepresentation. Examining ways both journalists and scientists can prepare ahead of time can strengthen interviews immensely. Scientists knowing in advance which artwork, photography, and graphics might be needed all help improve communication, as does the journalist’s preparation in advance for interviews. Identifying what is news, using scientific language that is understandable to the journalist and the mainstream public, and helping the journalist develop a story using first person experience, humor, character, excitement, and adventure are all valuable tools that both journalists and paleontologists can use to their advantage. Knowing what the medium is and the intended readership can change an interview’s focus: is it a blog, press release, on-line news item, newspaper story, magazine story, etc? Giving quotations that you want to be quoted, answering the questions you weren’t asked but wish you were, and conveying character all put “leavening” in your story and ultimately your communication with media and the public.

Biographical Information:

In March of 2007, Dr. P. Patrick Leahy was named Executive Director of the American Geological Institute (AGI) of Alexandria, Virginia, a nonprofit federation founded in 1948 of 46 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 120,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. Prior to his current position, Dr. Leahy served as Associate Director for Geology of the U.S. Geological Survey where he had responsibility for Federal basic earth science programs, which include worldwide earthquake hazards monitoring and research, geologic mapping of land and seafloor resources, volcano and landslide hazards, and assessments of energy and mineral resources. Dr. Leahy served with the U.S. Geological Survey for 33 years in various technical and managerial positions. He has authored or co-authored more than 70 publications on a wide array of earth science topics. Dr. Leahy holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in geology (1968) and geophysics (1970) from Boston College. He received his doctorate in geology (1979) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he specialized in regional ground-water studies and hydraulics. He is both a certified professional hydrogeologist and a professional geologist.
Angela Botzer is the production editor of the International Editions, National Geographic Magazine and is also on the paleontology committee for the magazine. With a background in geology, she has worked in publishing throughout the DC area.

Dinner Menu

Chicken Florentine (House salad & vegetables, rolls and butter)

Tira Misu

Coffee / tea

A vegetarian meal can be substituted by request.

Reception at 6:30.  Dinner at 7:30.  Talk at 8:20 PM.  Please note that the talk starts earlier than the usual time. Allow 15 minutes for security entering Ft. Myer as all civilian vehicles are searched.  To ensure access to and from Fort Myer use the Hatfield Gate, open 24 hours a day (  If you wish to attend dinner ($25), please make reservations with Joydeep Bhattacharyya at 571-269-8432 or via E-mail at If you wish, please feel free to attend the talk without dinner.  Non-members and guests are welcome.  Visit the PGS web site at for new meeting announcements, etc.  Please send changes of address or email to


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