The Communication Lab model was first piloted at MIT in 2013 in the Department of Biological Engineering (BE) under the faculty leadership of Professor Eric Alm and Department Head Doug Lauffenburger. The goal was to provide additional support for its students to learn communication skills. Jaime Goldstein was later hired by the team to experiment with discipline-specific peer coaching, and she developed many of the key philosophies and cultures now associated with the Communication Lab model.
The concept of peer-based science-communication coaching deeply resonated within MIT and was soon adapted for other departments, institutes and programs on campus. In 2017, the MIT Communication Lab offered its first Summer Institute to disseminate their model with other universities and institutions, and after Dr. Anique Olivier-Mason and Physics graduate student Joia Miller attended from Brandeis University, the Brandeis Science Communication Lab (CommLab) was created. Joia immediately signed on to be the Lab’s first fellow. While Brandeis was the second university to have a Communication Lab, there is now a network of Communication Labs at colleges and universities around the country.
Within Brandeis, Dr. Olivier-Mason adapted the Communication Lab model to the Brandeis community by expanding its scope outside an engineering school and beyond a single department to instead serve the entire Brandeis Division of Science: any undergraduate student, graduate student, postdoc, laboratory-staff or faculty person in the sciences who is seeking science communication support may be a Brandeis CommLab client. Dr. Olivier-Mason and her team also developed their own fellow-training resources that facilitate goal-specific fellow-client sessions. These materials are available upon request. Additionally, all of the Brandeis CommLab workshops and guide sheets were developed at Brandeis for the Brandeis community and are available upon request.
The Brandeis CommLab is currently supported by the generous contributions of the Division of Science, the Biology and Physics Departments, the Brandeis Materials Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.