Skip to Main Content

Visionaries: Liberal arts are what make us human

While it’s no secret that Janna Beckerman is passionate about plant pathology and its importance to producers, she was also eager to discuss some other key elements of her work that she believes are often overlooked in her profession.

When we started our conversation, I wanted to ask her about risk and the role it plays in her work. But you will see in the video that she felt more comfortable talking about the value of communication skills and liberal arts in pursuing science.

This was not the conversation any of us expected, but it turned out to be personally enlightening. One thing that stands out to me is when she credited Neil deGrasse Tyson as saying that aliens would be more interested in our culture than our technology. It made me think about how my role as a professional communicator is so vital.

Beckerman concluded her thoughts by encouraging aspiring science students to explore opportunities in liberal arts that strengthen skills in writing and critical thinking. She believes these types of experiences expand a person’s worldview, which is fundamental to effective science.
Meet the Filmmaker/Blogger
Ella Newcomb, student filmmaker and blogger Ella Newcomb, student filmmaker and blogger

Ella Newcomb is a junior agricultural communication major from El Paso, Illinois. Outside of her studies, Newcomb is very involved with Purdue and is an ambassador for the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication and a campus tour guide and Admissions Ambassador for the university. After graduation, Newcomb plans to pursue a career in public relations and become involved with global food security efforts.


This blog and video are part of the Visionaries series, which highlights the work and lives of researchers in the Purdue University College of Agriculture. The content for this series is created by the students of ASEC 280 (Digital Storytelling).

Explore other videos and blogs created by our student-filmmakers
Videos are also available on the Purdue Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication YouTube channel

Featured Stories

Purdue's bell tower stands tall behind a foreground of purple petunias
Purdue agriculture professors named AAAS Fellows

Purdue College of Agriculture professors Songlin Fei and Tesfaye Mengiste have been named fellows...

Read More
almonds on a table with almond milk
Homemade nut-based dairy analogs raise questions about bacterial risks

Many consumers know the food safety risks of dairy products, eggs and raw meat. But they are less...

Read More
Students working in the Skidmore Lab inside Nelson Hall of Food Science.
CH4 Global partners with Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute to combat methane emissions in the cattle industry

The Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute (FEMI), housed within Purdue...

Read More
Purdue MANRRS pose with chapter of the year award at MANRRS38
Purdue MANRRS receives chapter of the year award at national conference, making history

For the first time since its founding in 1990, the Purdue University College of...

Read More
A bottle of Boiler Bee Honey sits on the edge of chrome table in Skidmore lab with two students cooking in labcoats and hairnets in the background.
The sweet (and spicy) taste of victory—National Honey Board funds a food science development competition at Purdue

In the past few years, specialty sauces like hot honey combined the classic warm, sweet feeling...

Read More
lab grown meat
Survey tallies consumer attitudes toward lab-grown meat alternatives

Many consumers view conventional meats as both tastier and healthier than laboratory-grown...

Read More
To Top