Core Initiatives of the Impact Exchange 

The Petri Dish

The Petri Dish is public events platform for the Impact Exchange, providing opportunities for science themed conversations between scientists and the broader public. The goal is to encourage cross-disciplinary discussion on socially relevant biology-themed topics ranging from gene editing and its implications to biodiversity loss. Public events, held at accessible, off-campus venues, typically attract 80+ attendees including community members, alumni and students. Coming soon will be the launch of Petri Dish Postscript, an expansion of the Petri Dish that will include scientist led storytelling events.

The Science Communication Lab

The Science Communication Lab is the innovation hub at the center of the Impact Exchange responsible for developing and testing new models for engagement and establishing novel partnerships with local schools, community groups, and cultural institutions. Lab members collaborate with faculty to develop and implement novel Broader Impact strategies. In 2019, the College’s Science Communication Lab established a partnership with the Bakken Museum, which includes internship opportunities for undergraduate students, an agreement to develop informal science education programming based on University research, and participation in the Bakken Museum’s Exhibit Content Advisory Board.


SciSpark represents the College’s Commitment to fostering equity and inclusion. Since 2012, SciSpark has hosted an annual event celebrating diversity in science by highlighting contributions from communities traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. With the launch of the Impact Exchange we are developing a new program called SciSpark Scholars, a holistic approach to recruitment, retention, and training in the biological sciences. By combining teacher professional development, inquiry-based classroom programs, and impactful mentorship, SciSpark Scholars will help support expanded STEM educational opportunities for underserved communities in Minnesota.

Impact Afield

Impact Afield is about exploring partnerships that push on the traditional boundaries of Science. By leveraging the CBS Conservatory, Field Stations, and other strategic partnerships, we embed science and scientists within communities to push forward conversations about the interconnectedness of science, art, and humanity.



The College of Biological Sciences Impact Exchange is an interdisciplinary collaboration focused on providing access to established broader impacts programing, opportunities for meaningful public engagement, and cutting edge professional development. These efforts will provide an integrated and supported pathway for faculty, staff, and students to connect their scientific passions to communities across Minnesota. 

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