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The Public Communication of Science and Technology project (PCOST) aims to improve discourse about emerging and converging technologies.


The project’s mission is to provide opportunities for scholars to understand and improve the public communication of science and technology. That includes engaging faculty and students in a wide arena of scholarship including communication, media studies, computer science, design, environmental and bench sciences, and associated fields.

Our audiences include stakeholders in science, medicine and technology such as policymakers, scientists, business leaders, health practitioners and nongovernmental organizations.

Project Objectives

  • Generate data on issues related to communication, public perception, program development, planning and evaluation, and other variables that affect how the public understanding.
  • Support both quantitative and qualitative research in the social science of science and technology.
  • Promote social science research as vital to STEM efforts across NC State’s campus and throughout North Carolina.


David Berube
Founding Director and Professor of Communication

  • David Berube, Founding Director and Professor of Communication
  • Deanna Dannels, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Jennifer Kuzma, Goodnight-NCGSK Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs
  • Maria Correa, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Marc Russo, Associate Professor of Art and Design
  • Ben Watson, Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • Emily Berglund Zechman, Professor of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
students work with plants in a lab


Explore our current and past projects.

Current Projects

The National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) in Genetic Pest Management encompasses a number of research efforts by North Carolina State University faculty and students.

The Genetic Pest Management (GPM) offers an opportunity to learn from past experiences and train a generation of students before wide-scale application creates consequences for which GPM researchers, and the communities these hope to aid, are poorly prepared. The pest species linked to such engineering range from insects to rodents and from pests of large-scale agriculture to invasive pests of endangered species.

Students interested in GPM and, more broadly, in the social and ecological consequences of new technologies, must be able to evaluate whether, when, and how GPM technologies might be utilized.

A. Binder and M. Cobb, and W. Kinsella work on this project. NSF-IGERT. Genetic Engineering and Society: The Case of Transgenic Pests.” National Science Foundation Grant No. DGE-1068676 ($1,199,509) PI: Fred Gould (NC State); co-PIs: Nicholas Haddad, Nora Haenn, Alun Lloyd, William Kinsella.

Emily Zechman Berglund, assistant professor in civil, construction and environmental engineering, and Andrew Binder, assistant professor in communications have been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to, according to their NSF abstract, “explore the interplay between social and technical aspects of reclaimed, or recycled, water and will discover new ways for planning municipal water infrastructure and policy.” For more information, please see the following:

2012-2017. M. Cobb in a Sub-Thrust Leader for Social Implications/Risk Perceptions, NSF-NERC: Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST). ($18.5 million, 5 year center award). PI: Veena Misra (NC State).

Completed Projects

From 2008-2012, PCOST was associated with a 4 yr. $1.4 million NSF Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) grant to study how the public unpacks technical information about human toxicology of nanoparticles and nanotechnology. Dr. David Berube was Principal Investigator. He was joined by Dr. Vicki Colvin (Rice), Dr. Dietram Scheufele (Wisconsin), Dr. Pat Gehrke (South Carolina), and Dr. Jennifer Kuzma (Minnesota, now NC State).


Open the tab below to view our publications.

Berube, D.M. (2014). Public Participation and Innovation Ecosystems for Convergence.” In XXXX . Springer. (In press).

Scott, T.J., A. Politte, S. Collard, S. Saathoff, E.Z. Berglund, J. Barbour, and A. Sprintson (2014) “A Test of the Stormwater Footprint Calculator for Improving Knowledge and Changing Attitudes about Design for Sustainability in Stormwater Management” Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy, 10(1), 14 pages

Berube, D.M. (2014). The Audience is the Message: Nanomedicine as Apotheosis or Damnatio Memoria. In Clinical Nanomedicine: From Bench to Bedside. Bawa, R. ed., Singapore: Pan Stanford Publishing.(In press).

Watson, B.A., Berube, D.M., Hristov, N., Strohecker, C., Betz, S., Allen, L., Burczyk, M., Howard, A., McGee, W.A., Gymer, M., Cañas, D., & Kirstner, M. (2013). VIA — Visualizing individual actions to develop a sustainable community culture through cycling. Proc. HCI International: Distributed, Ambient & Pervasive Interactions. (In press). 

Scott, T.J., Politte, A., Collard, S., Saathoff, S., Zechman, E.M., Barbour, J. & Sprintson, A. (2013). A Test of the Stormwater Footprint Calculator for Improving Knowledge and Changing Attitudes about Design for Sustainability in Stormwater Management, Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy. (in press).

Cobb, M.D., Nyhan, B. & Reifler,J. (2013″. “Beliefs Don’t Always Persevere: How political figures are punished when positive information about them is discredited.” Political Psychology, 34(3): 307-326.

Berube, D.M. (2013). Constructing Texts in Fringe Science: Challenges in Propaedeutics.” In POROI: Inventing the Future: The Rhetorics of Science, Technology, and Medicine. 9(1). 2013. Online Accessed May 22, 2013.

Bae, J. & Watson, B.A. (2013). Toward a better understanding and application of the principles of visual communication. In W. Huang (ed.), Handbook of Human Centric Visualization. Springer. ISBN:978-1-4614-7484-5.

Cummings, C.L., Berube, D.M., & Lavelle, M. (2013). Influences of Individual-Level Characteristics on Risk Perceptions to Various Categories of Environmental Health and Safety Risks. Journal of Risk Research . 2013. Online.

Cummings, C.L., Firth, J., & Berube, D.M. (2013). Unexpected Appropriations of Technology and Life Cycle Analysis: Reframing Cradle-to-Grave Approaches. In Emerging Technologies: Socio-Behavioral Life Cycle Approaches . Singapore: Pan Stanford Publishing. 2013. 251-271.

Berube, D.M. (2013). Socialis Commodis and Life Cycle Analysis: A Critical Examination of Uncertainty.” InEmerging Technologies: Socio-Behavioral Life Cycle Approaches . Singapore: Pan Stanford Publishing. 139-163.

Watson, B.A. (2012). Improving visual analytic outcomes by developing a science of visual persuasion. Proc. NSF Science of Interaction for Data and Visual Analytics Workshop.

Cobb, M.D. & Gano, G. (2012). “Evaluating Structured Deliberations about Emerging Technologies: Post-process participant evaluation.” International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society, 10: 96-110.

Toumey, C. & Cobb, M.D. (2012). “Nano In-Sight: Epistemology, Aesthetics, Comparisons, and Public Perceptions of Images of Nanoscale Objects.” Leonardo. 45(5): OnLine First at:

Berube, D.M. (2011). Decision Ethics and Emerging Technologies. European Journal of Law and Technology. 2(3), 1-8.

Cobb, M.D. (2011). Creating Informed Public Opinion: Citizen Deliberation about Nanotechnologies for Human Enhancements. Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 13(4): 1533-1548.

Schwartzman, R., Ross, D.G., & Berube, D.M. (2011). Rhetoric and risk. Poroi. 7(1), Article 9.

Berube, D.M., Cummings, C.L., Frith, J.H., Binder, A.R., & Oldendick, R.W. (2011). Comparing nanoparticle risk perceptions to other known EHS risks. Journal of Nanoparticle Research. doi:10.1007/s11051-011-0325-z

Berube, D.M., Cummings, C., Cacciatore, M., Scheufele, D., & Kalin, J. (2011). Characteristics and classification of nanoparticles: Expert Delphi survey. Nanotoxicology, 5(2), 236-243. doi:10.3109/17435390.2010.521633

Bae, J. & Watson, B.A. (2011). Developing and evaluating Quilts for the depiction of large layered graphs.IEEE Trans. Visualization and Computer Graphics, 17, 12, 2268-2275.

Berube, D.M., Searson, E.M., Morton, T.S., & Cummings, C.L. (2010). Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies – Consumer Product Inventory Evaluated. Nanotechnology Law & Business, 7(2), 152-163.

Berube, D.M., Faber, B., Scheufele, D.A., Cummings, C.L., Gardner, G.E., Martin, K.N., Martin, M.S., & Temple, N.M. (2010). Communicating risk in the 21st century: The case of nanotechnology. National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, Arlington, VA.

Toumey, C., Besley, J., Blanchard, M., Brown, M., Cobb, M.D., Ecklund, E.H., Glass, E., Guterbock, T.M., Kelly, A.E., & Lewenstein, B. (2010). “Science in the Service of Citizens& Consumers: The NSF Workshop on Public Knowledge of Science.” Report to NSF, 4 November 2010. Last retrieved at

Fekete, J-D., Dragicevic, P., Bezerianos, A., Bae, J. & Watson, B.A. (2010). GeneaQuilts: a system for exploring large genealogies. IEEE Trans. Visualization and Computer Graphics, 16, 6, 1073-1081. 

Berube, D.M. (2010). Book Reviews: Communicating Science: Professional, Popular, Literary by Nicholas Russell and Communicating Science in Social Contexts: New Models, New Practices edited by Donghong Cheng, Michael Classens, Toss Gascoigne, Jenni Metcalfe, Bernard Schieve, & Shunke Shi. Journal of Communication, 60(3), E1-E5. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2010.01499.x

Vanegas, C.A, Aliaga, D.G., Wonka, P., Müller, P., Waddell, P. & B. Watson. (2010). Modelling the appearance and behaviour of urban spaces. Computer Graphics Forum, 29, 1, 25-42.

Berube, D.M. (2009). Book Reviews: Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Daniel Gardner and Panicology: What Are You Afraid Of? Two Statisticians Explain What’s Worth Worrying About (and What’s Not) in the 21st Century by Simon Briscoe and Hugh Aldersey-Williams. Public Understanding of Science, 18(3), 375-376. doi:10.1177/09636625090180030803

Binder, A. R., Cacciatore, M. A., Scheufele, D. A., Shaw, B. R., & Corley, E. A. (2011). Measuring risk/benefit perceptions of emerging technologies and their potential impact on communication of public opinion toward science. Public Understanding of Science, 20(2), 1-18.

Binder, A. R., Scheufele, D. A., Brossard, D., & Gunther, A. C. (2011). Interpersonal amplification of risk? Citizen discussions and their influence on perceptions of risks and benefits of a biological research facility. Risk Analysis, 21(2), 324-334. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01516.x

Ho, S. S., Binder, A. R., Becker, A. B., Moy, P., Scheufele, D. A., Brossard, D., et al. (2011). The role of perceptions of media bias in general and issue-specific political participation. Mass Communication and Society. May. 343-374. 

Binder, A. R. (2009). Routes to attention or shortcuts to apathy? Exploring domain-specific communication pathways and their implications for public perceptions of controversial science. Science Communication, 32(4), 1-29. doi:10.1177/1075547009345471.

Sharlin, E., Watson, B.A., Sutphen, S., Liu, L., Lederer, R. & Frazer, J. (2009). A tangible user interface for assessing cognitive mapping ability. Int. J. Human-Computer Studies, 67, 3, 269-278. Special Issue on 3D User Interfaces.

Binder, A. R., Dalrymple, K. E., Brossard, D., & Scheufele, D. A. (2009). The soul of a polarized democracy: Testing theoretical linkages between talk and attitude extremity during the 2004 presidential election. Communication Research, 36(3), 315-340.

Vanegas, C., Aliaga, D., Mueller, P., Waddell, P., Watson, B.A. & Wonka, P. (2009). Modeling the appearance and behavior of urban spaces. Proc. Eurographics, State of the Art Reports, 1-16.

A man works with a computer

Student Involvement

Open the tabs below to review procedures and policies for doctoral and master’s research assistants.

PCOST Hiring Policy for Research Assistants

Doctoral and master’s level students can be hired under PCOST associated grants. We provide competitive hiring in the areas of social science of science (mostly quantitative) and applied social media research. Students either receive stipends with fringe or an hourly wage.

Grants associated with PCOST include NSF, NIH, and some private contract funding. Some students work during the summer on grant and/or contract hires. In 2009, we wrote a White Paper for the National Nanotechnology Initiative on Risk Communication. In 2010 three doctoral students were hired by the Center for Emerging Technologies, LLC to work at a client site outside of Chicago, IL. These are funded positions.

On the horizon we have projects in public understanding of nanotoxicology; health and safety communication; and advanced social media applications.

Students are expected to have research and data based analytical skills as well as technical writing skills. Students associated with the program find themselves taking courses in statistics and methodology in departments across campus. A list of social science courses of interest to potential students is available here.​

PCOST Hiring Policy for Research Assistants

Master’s students can be hired under PCOST associated grants. We hire students who are in their first year or second year. We provide competitive hiring in the areas of social science of science (mostly quantitative) and applied social media research.

Grants associated with PCOST include NSF, NIH, and some private contract funding. Some students work during the summer on grant and/or contract hires.

During the summer 2011, one of our students interned with the Semiconductor Research Corporation in the Research Triangle. On the horizon we have projects in public understanding of nanotoxicology, TCE contamination and health and safety communication, and advanced social media applications.

For more information contact David Berube, Director (Winston 101C) at or Andrew Binder at