Science Communication by ITI Talks guest Joana Lobo Antunes

Science Communication talk with Joana Lobo Antunes, Head of Communications at Instituto Superior Técnico

The Interactive Technologies Institute closed the ITI Talks series in 2022 with Joana Lobo Antunes, Head of Communications at Instituto Superior Técnico. During her talk, our guest called for the contribution of researchers to a successful science communication strategy.

Science Communication is all about sharing scientific research with non-specialized audiences, and there are many ways to do it. “One could hire people like Daniel and me to think about science communication, but people actually want to hear from you, ” she claims, based on the European citizens’ knowledge and attitudes towards science and technology survey results.

People want to hear about Science.

According to the same survey, Europeans are generally interested in getting more information about diverse scientific fields. However, most of the information they get access to is related to sports and politics. “People want to hear about Science, and we should use this information in our favour”, she adds.

Joana Lobo Antunes says, “the role of science communicators is to create opportunities to help scientists share their research”, aiming to spark the audience’s interest in becoming a part of the process. “We can not do the omelettes if you do not give us the eggs”, she warns.

As the presentation progressed, Joana started focusing on why researchers should be more involved with society. “We are paid with taxpayers’ money, so we need to give them back the investment made on us. They need to know what we are doing with these chairs, these tables, our time,  etc. We need to be publicly accountable”. Joana thinks that putting research out there will help taxpayers realise the value science has, hence justifying the investment made in the scientific community.

How to do Science Communication

Joana Lobo Antunes has made one thing very clear: there is a type of science communication for everyone. Researchers can communicate science independently of their career stages. Novices and experts can write, speak, record video or audio, and even draw. Even the channel is a choice: from social media to institutional websites and science fairs. It all boils down to what researchers are more comfortable with.

She later presented many examples of science communication campaigns developed by Instituto Superior Técnico, in which researchers play a fundamental role. The Interactive Technologies Institute works on exciting research topics that spark the interest of non-scientific audiences. The goal is to start demonstrating our value as a research institute to them.


Science Communication is the topic of the last ITI Talk of 2022

The last ITI Talk of 2022 will feature a special guest. On December 16, we will hear Joana Lobo Antunes talk about science communication and why it matters to researchers.

During this talk, Lisbon and Funchal’s Interactive Technologies Institute community will hear about the importance of communicating science. Our guest speaker will point out some reasons researchers should be involved in sharing their research. We will hear about the best practices for disseminating research to non-expert audiences and how to better interact with other stakeholders.

Joana Lobo Antunes is the Head of Communication at Instituto Superior Técnico; lecturer in Science Communication and Social Media for Scientists, FCSH NOVA and Universidade Nova de Lisboa Doctoral School; coordinator of science radio show 90 Segundos de Ciência (since 2017), multimedia program Explica-me como se tivesse cinco anos (since 2020) and science podcast 110 histórias | 110 Objetos (since 2021).

She is the former Head of Communications at ITQB NOVA (2016-2019) former Director at Centro Ciência Viva de Sintra (2014-2016), and a former researcher in the Promotion and Administration of Science and Technology (2012-2015). Joana Lobo Antunes is one of the founders and former President of the Portuguese Science Communicators Network SciComPT.

This is the first ITI Talks event at our new Lisbon facilities at Hub Criativo do Beato. The Interactive Technology Institute has recently moved to a new open-space lab, as the team has grown significantly in the past few months.

ITI joined Técnico Taguspark Open Day

During the Taguspark Open Day, the Interactive Technologies Institute displayed its research through hands-on activities

The Interactive Technologies Institute joined the Técnico Taguspark Open Day on November 12.  On this Saturday, we celebrated its 22nd anniversary where we demonstrated some of the research being currently developed by the team. Patrícia Piedade and Francisco Cecílio, master students, represented ITI during the event.

Programming with felt markers

The first hands-on activity challenged young visitors to learn more about programming through the usage of Ozobots. These are tiny robots capable of performing different actions by reading colour sequences drawn on paper. Children must choose the right colour sequences to lead the Ozobots to the desired path when presented with a maze. Patrícia Piedade currently uses Ozobots in her research to foster inclusion through collaboration between neurotypical and neurodivergent children during class. Children could not only try to solve our mazes but also draw their own – some of them were rather complex.

Doing exercise in augmented reality

Additionally, we presented the activity ARCADE, which is a physiotherapy support system. It uses augmented-reality features and storytelling to provide the users with a personalised exercise plan. The system uses a chapter-based compelling narrative to motivate users to stick with the exercise plan. The research team selected the story taking into consideration the feedback given by the target audience. During this day, visitors were able to try the system developed by Francisco Cecílio and provided helpful feedback to improve the tool. Currently, the ARCADE only supports upper limb exercises, but further developments could promote the rehabilitation of other body parts.

During the day, we welcomed children and adults to try out what our research on Human-Computer Interaction research looks like. The Técnico Taguspark Open Day included the participation of other Técnico research centres which shared their research projects with the general audience. Participants could also get to know research laboratories, visit exhibits on display, and attend workshops and open classes.


ITI Talks: Predicting injuries and Energy Communities

After a prolonged hiatus, the ITI Talks have resumed. These events are dedicated to sharing internally the research being currently developed by our researchers. This allows us to be up-to-date on the group’s latest research developments.

On November 10, the event joined the team from Lisbon and Funchal through live hybrid presentations in both cities to discuss research focusing on predicting injuries and energy communities

The speakers

Diogo Freitas

Ph.D. student at the University of Madeira, Funchal
“Can We Predict Injuries on Elite Soccer Players? A Machine Learning Approach Using GPS Data”

Diogo N. Freitas completed a Master’s Degree in Mathematics, Statistics, and Applications in 2020 and a degree in Computer Engineering in 2017. He is currently a Ph.D. student in Computer Engineering at the Faculty of Exact Sciences and Engineering at the University of Madeira. Throughout his career, he won scholarships and distinctions, which included a Huawei academic merit scholarship (worth €5,000). His research interests include machine learning, stochastic optimization algorithm knowledge representation, and belief revision.

Nuno Velosa

Research assistant @ ITI, INESC-ID, Lisbon
“Exploring the potential of Multiple Knapsack in Energy Communities Load Balancing Schemes”

Nuno completed a course in Management and Programing of Informatic Systems in 2016. This professional course was his introduction to the IT world and ended with a merit diploma. With the goal of deepening his knowledge, he got a degree in Informatics Engineering at Universidade da Madeira. Currently, he is finishing his Master’s degree with the thesis “PROCSIM: An energy community simulator to develop and evaluate load balancing schemes” and working as a Research Assistant at INESC-ID, participating in the project “EV4EU – Electric Vehicles Management for carbon neutrality in Europe”. During this time, he had the chance to work as a Software Developer in different companies. He also worked as a Research Assistant at Interactive Technologies Institute, where he started his research experience. Later on, Nuno aims to get a Ph.D. in the same area.