Rick Keil ~ Citizens' Scientist


Serving the Community

Sound Conversations is a collaboration between COSEE OLC and the Seattle Aquarium, a COSEE OLC partner. Now in its third year, Sound Conversations sponsors three speakers a year, all with a marine or environmental theme. Rick spoke in May 2010, and was the first COSEE-related speaker, and only the third from the University of Washington.

Sound Conversations brochure
The format is that of an informal interview, led by Seattle weatherman Jeff Renner. There's also plenty of time for questions from the audience. In addition to Rick, this past year featured appearances by environmentalist Philippe Cousteau and Brady Barr, herpetologist and host of National Geographic's Dangerous Encounters.

Rick is very used to lecturing to students, and he's very used to speaking with other scientists. Speaking to the general public is a different story. "I'm always fearful that I'll say something that's interpreted incorrectly because I use the wrong words, or that I'll just say something wrong," says Rick. His fear is that, in answering a question about which he has only peripheral knowledge, he might say something that may not be scientifically correct and that will then become part of the lexicon. "The stress is all about serving the community right," says Rick. "I want to do right by them."

Rick's May 2010 talk filled the Aquarium with past and present students, fellow UW faculty, COSEE Network members, friends, family, and the general public. The SCSA teens and SoundCitizen staff set up displays in the Aquarium lobby, and all of the materials they brought to give away were quickly snapped up, thus providing the additional benefit of spreading the word about these programs. Although he might have been glad it was over, even Rick felt that the evening was a great success - not because of his performance, but because he was able to "give information away" about his work in a way that benefited the community - thus attaining his goal.