Museum, University of Nebraska State


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Museums & Social Issues 11:1 (April 2016), pp. 9-16.

HHS Public Access version, Author manuscript; available in PMC 2017 February 12.


PMCID: PMC4980086


© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


Current research in virology is changing public conceptions about vaccines and infectious disease. The University of Nebraska State Museum collaborated with research virologists, science writers, artists and learning researchers to create public outreach materials about viruses and infectious disease. The project, funded by the National Institute of Health’s SEPA program, developed comics, a book with Carl Zimmer, and other materials and programs. The project launched three kinds of learning research: 1) a survey of Nebraska adults on their opinions about vaccines and infectious disease; 2) a study comparing the mental models of viruses, vaccines and infection from virologists, teachers, and students; and 3) a controlled study 873 high school students randomly assigned to read either a comic or a text-based essay with the same virus information.