Skip to main content

Interface of Science & Society

Interface of Science & Society

Our Interface of Science and Society research investigates how the enterprises of science as a cultural institution intersects with other sectors and institutions of society, and how scientific institutions and individual STEM professionals engage the public.


2022 - 2027

Polar STEAM is an NSF funded project run by an interdisciplinary team at Oregon State University. Participants are supported in their creative, scientific, and educational practices as they develop and share creative works and educational resources that engage learners of all ages in understanding the critical global importance of polar environments and the people who call these regions home. Polar STEAM is an inclusive program that views our differences with curiosity and invests in diversity.

NASA Heliophysics Education Activation Team (NASA HEAT)

2022 - 2026

NASA Heliophysics Education Activation Team (NASA HEAT) engages communities across the nation with educational programs about heliophysics. As part of the NASA Science Activation program, NASA HEAT actively partners with scientists, educators, and communicators to provide understandable science educational content and experiences to learners of all ages.

Advancing Public Engagement with Science across the Long Term Ecological Research Network (APEAL)


The APEAL project’s goal is to improve how Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites are engaging with their (local) community (non-profits, other governmental agencies, local internship programs, etc.). The premise behind the project is that scientific organizations that are deeply embedded into communities, or are relying on long-term relationships with the communities they are part of, might have a strategic interest in authentic engagement with those communities, in part to ensure that research efforts can be sustained over time The project will survey and interview LTER scientists, leaders, and staff from the 28 LTER sites about their strategic notions around science outreach. It will investigate several key LTER sites in depth to see what they are already doing toward public engagement of science (PES); what is going well or poorly? Then, using all that information, alongside other evidence-based public engagement with science (PES) strategies within STEM research organizations, to support the broader LTER Network in improving engagement with their community.

Learning In and From the Environment Through Multiple Ways of Knowing (LIFEways)

2022 - 2026

Many of our urgent environmental challenges, from soil degradation and water pollution to global climate change, have deep roots in how we relate to nature and to each other, and how complex systems impact human well-being: “If the water is sick, the fish get sick, and then we get sick – everything is interconnected” (Diné Elder Dr. David Begay). We see Western science and Indigenous ways of knowing (IWK) as both contributing to our understanding of how humans fit within local and global ecologies and recognize that both knowledge systems can make essential contributions to addressing environmental issues and supporting sustainable, healthy communities for generations to come. While we engage with both knowledge systems, we intentionally uplift Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and living in the environment in order to build awareness of their value.

STEM Ambassadors Program (STEMAP)

2019 - 2023

The STEM Ambassador Program is a collaborative project that seeks to foster greater inclusion in science by training scientists to engage members of the public in innovative ways outside traditional venues.

GLOBE: Citizen Science Needs Assessment

2016 - 2018

OSU’s STEM Research Center conducted a needs assessment that will inform the expansion of the NASA GLOBE program to citizen scientists outside the K-12 arena. The findings from this needs assessment informed the on going work of the NESEC project evaluation (to the NESEC project).

Revealing Progress toward Promotion and Tenure Reform in the Academy

2018 - 2020

This project assumes that the current academic system of reward and professional advancement: a) does not live up to current university values and fails to support improvements in teaching, engagement, innovation, inclusivity, convergence research and team science; and b) can be improved and is already being improved through disruptive actions by champions of change.

Research and Development on Understanding STEM Identity Using Live Experiences

2017 - 2023

The goal of the project is to explore how audiences with little or no affinity for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can become more engaged with STEM ideas through live, immersive experiences. For the project, center staff and partners collected data at the Oregon Eclipse Festival in central Oregon in 2017 and the Figment Festival at Governor’s Island, NY in 2018. We also evaluated the artist and scientist in residence program and a professional development workshop about conveying science through art at the New York Academy of Science.

Landscape Overview of University Systems and People Supporting Scientists in their Public Engagement Efforts

2017 - 2018

This study was commissioned by the Rita Allen Foundation to support a national-scale initiative to support scientists in their public engagement efforts.

Curiosity Machine

2017 - 2019

Under the leadership of Drs. Kelly Riedinger and Martin Storksdieck with assistance from Victoria Bonebrake, the Center collaborated with Iridescent Learning to study the impact of project-based learning using their Curiosity Machine program on students and their families in STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics). For this project, Iridescent collaborated with the Illinois Math and Science Academy to provide students at two schools in Chicago with engineering education experiences through its Curiosity Machine platform. The research study, led by the Center, examined the Curiosity Machine as an intervention in both an after-school setting that integrates family programming, and in grades 4-8 classrooms in the two participating schools.

Grounding Institutional Partnerships in Structures for Broader Impacts Design (BID)

2017 - 2022

Higher education institutions and informal science education centers share a common interest in lowering the barriers that separate science and the public. These groups desire tools and strategies for developing mutually beneficial relationships to work together towards this common interest. In this Broader Impacts Design (BID) project, the Center developed and tested a conceptual framework to guide informal science education organizations, higher education institutions and other community-based partners in creating enduring partnerships that support public engagement with science. This framework includes recommendations for the structure and function of the partnerships, as well as tools and resources that enable these institutions to work together effectively.

AAAS Science of Team Science

2016 - 2018

Led by Lou Woodley with support from Martin Storksdieck, the STEM Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) had partnered to develop a research program that examined the processes by which scientific teams organize, communicate, and collaborate through online platforms, namely the AAAS Trellis site.

Broader Impacts: Understanding STEM Principle Investigators’ Approach to Informal Education


This project was a combined effort between the STEM Research Center and the NSF-funded Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education – CAISE – to assist the NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program to enhance the quality of investigators’ broader impact efforts by improving their understanding of and connections with out-of-school educational resources like science centers, media, community organizations, and the web.