Grant #400

Useful Science

May 25, 2020

How Can You Believe Science If You Don’t Understand It?

When scientists speak, do you listen? If you listen, do you understand what the heck they’re talking about if you’re not a genius scientist yourself?

In 2014, a group of graduate students at McGill University noticed that scholarly scientific research often wound up being misunderstood.

So many reporters got it wrong because they didn’t know any better, or worse, turned cherry-picked facts into sensational clickbait that distorted the scientific findings.

If an ordinary person happened to get their hands on the journals where such studies are published and interpreted (very rarely available for free), they’d quickly discover those articles were not written for the general public’s understanding.

So an awesome idea was born: Useful Science, creating easily digestible summaries of science for people with average vocabularies and short attention spans. operates on the idea that people can make better decisions about how to lead their lives if they understand relevant scientific research.

For people on the go, Useful Science offers tweet-length summaries of scientific findings written in straightforward language focusing on relevant topics including nutrition, happiness, sleep, and parenting. The info could inspire you to make small behavioral changes, and those changes might have significant impact.

Useful Science also has a podcast boasting over a million downloads, now co-produced with the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The 100% volunteer-run organization has attracted partnerships that create opportunities for research placements, digital media internships, and course practicums for graduate students.

Our Awesome Without Borders grant will pay for website and podcast hosting, plus the Mailchimp subscription they use to produce and distribute the newsletter. Thousands of subscribers are signed up to get the latest research summaries, and you can join them here.

Who knows, a better understanding of science could save your life. Gravity doesn’t care whether you believe it or not!


Category: Science, Social Impact, Technology, Volunteer, Writing



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders