We'll continue to update this list as we get confirmations from our invited speakers. Check back here often!
KEYNOTE: Dr. Joe Hanson
Joe Hanson, Ph.D., is a science writer, biologist, and YouTube educator. He is the creator and host of It’s Okay To Be Smart, an award-winning science education show from PBS Digital Studios that celebrates curiosity and the pleasure of finding things out. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, and his science writing has been published by WIRED, Nautilus, Scientific American and Texas Monthly.
Amy Stone is a medical and scientific communicator with over 30 years experience. She focuses her work on enabling non-profit and government organizations to achieve their missions through strategic communications, advocacy, partner engagement, and evidence-based content. Stone holds a BA in physiology with a chemistry minor, a BS in design science, a few years of post-baccalaureate studies in physiology and microbiology while she figured out what to do with her life, and a masters degree in communication (print journalism emphasis). She has managed a cancer research laboratory at Emory, reported for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, was the senior medical writer at Emory University’s School of Medicine, and was Director of Scientific and Medical Communications at the American Cancer Society before starting her health communications business, Amy Stone Scientific and Medical Communications, Inc. Her client list includes national and international non-profit organizations, government organizations, universities, private companies, and media outlets. She currently focuses her work on HIV, TB, and STDs as a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; mitochondrial medicine; cancer; and whatever other interesting and important issues come across her desk. Her company website can be found here.
Dr. Manu Platt
Dr. Manu Platt’s research centers on proteolytic mechanisms of tissue remodeling during disease progression using both experimental and computational approaches. His work has been funded by NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, International AIDS Society, Georgia Cancer Coalition, and the National Science Foundation. He is also the Diversity Director for the NSF Science and Technology Center for Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS). Awards for mentoring and outreach have included the Georgia Tech Diversity Champion award, Junior Faculty Above and Beyond Award, and the Junior Faculty Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award from Georgia Tech. He was recently named an Emerging Scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine in 2015, Atlanta 40 under 40 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2016, and the Biomedical Engineering Society Diversity Award in 2017.
Dr. David Lynn
Dr. David G. Lynn has contributed in the general areas of molecular recognition, synthetic biology and chemical evolution, and has developed chemical and physical methods for the analysis of supramolecular self-assemblies, of signal transduction in cellular development and pathogenesis, of molecular skeletons for storing and reading information, and of the evolution of biological order. After a fellowship at Columbia University and teaching briefly at the University of Virginia and Cornell University, he served as Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago until 2000. He moved to accept the Asa Griggs Candler Professorship in Chemistry and Biology at Emory University, and in 2002, was awarded one of 20 inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professorships. In 2011, Lynn was awarded the Emory Scholar-Teacher Award for pioneering several science/arts collaborations for communicating science and as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. He received the ACS Herty Metal in 2013 and served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry from 2006-15.
Dr. Pete Ludovice
Dr. Pete Ludovice is an Associate Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. His research activities include the computer simulation of synthetic and biological macromolecules, and the application of humor to enhance technical communication, education, and innovation. He has a B.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois and M.I.T. respectively. Pete has performed as a stand-up comedian for over a dozen years and uses humor in STEM educational outreach through his weekly radio show on WREK-Atlanta (91.1FM), and his one-man show entitled “Feel the Power of the dork side”.
Dr. Lew Lefton
Dr. Lew Lefton is a faculty member in the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics and the Assistant Dean of Information Technology for the Georgia Tech College of Sciences. He also has the role of Assistant Vice President for Research Cyberinfrastructure in the EVPR office at Georgia Tech. Lefton has a bachelor of science degree in math and computer science from New Mexico Tech, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois. Lefton is also an accomplished and experienced comedian who has done stand up and improv comedy for more than 30 years.
Dr. Mar Sanchez
Mar Sanchez, PhD, studies the neurobiological systems that control stress physiology and emotion regulation. Dr. Sanchez is particularly interested in the effects of early experiences, such as maternal care and social stress, on the development of those brain systems and the psychopathology and pathophysiology of anxiety and mood disorders. She is actively involved in advocating for science on Capitol Hill.
Dr. Karen Rommelfanger
Dr. Karen S. Rommelfanger received her PhD in neuroscience and received postdoctoral training in neuroscience and neuroethics. Her research explores how evolving neuroscience and neurotechnologies challenge societal definitions of disease and medicine. Dr. Rommelfanger is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the Neuroethics Program Director at Emory University’s Center for Ethics, and Senior Associate Editor at the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience. She is dedicated to cross-cultural work in neuroethics and also serves as ethicist to the China-India Mental Health Alliance. She is an appointed member to the NIH BRAIN Initiative Neuroethics Division and is ambassador to the Human Brain Project’s Ethics Advisory Board. A key part of her work is fostering communication across multiple stakeholders in neuroscience. As such she edits the largest international online neuroethics discussion forum The Neuroethics Blog and she is a frequent contributor and commentator in popular media such as The New York Times, USA Today and The Huffington Post.
Dr. Diego Golombek
Diego Golombek has a PhD in Biology (University of Buenos Aires) and is currently Professor at the National University of Quilmes, where he heads the Chronobiology Lab, and Investigator at the National Research Council (CONICET). He has published over 130 scientific papers, many book chapters, about 20 science books for general audiences, as well as produced, scripted and hosted several TV shows. Diego also coordinated the National Program for Science Popularization and created the Cultural Center for Science. He received the National Science Prize, the Guggenheim fellowship, the Konex Prize, the IgNobel award the “Capital City” award from Mexico. In 2015 he was awarded the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for Science Popularization.
Christopher Parsons is an American scientist and outreach specialist. He holds degrees in chemistry from the University of Georgia, and is presently the Director of Education, Outreach, and Diversity for the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution. In this role, Christopher addresses gaps in public understanding of science through art-centered programs and media that highlight science in its broader social context.
Dr. Dobleena Roy
Deboleena Roy holds a joint faculty position as Associate Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, and is also Associate Faculty in the Neuroscience Program, Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Emory. She received her PhD in reproductive neuroendocrinology and molecular biology from the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Her research and scholarship attempt to create shifts from feminist critiques of science to the development of feminist practices that contribute to scientific inquiry in the lab. Her fields of interest include feminist theory, feminist science and technology studies, neuroscience, molecular biology, postcolonial theory, and reproductive justice movements.
Dr. James Gumbart
James Gumbart is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009, with post-doctoral training at the Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Gumbart designs hands-on workshops for college/graduate students and classroom demonstrations for K-12 students, particularly illustrating molecular simulations using VMD Lite. The VMD Lite program was designed in Dr. Gumbart’s lab with the goal of bringing molecular visualization down to the high school level. Modules featured emphasize free-form questions and self-guided exploration to give students a chance to develop their own curiosity.
Dr. Meisa Salaita
Meisa is enamored with the beauty of science. Through her work founding and directing the Atlanta Science Festival, she spends her days trying to convince everyone else to fall in love with science as well. To that end, Meisa also writes, has produced radio stories, and hosted tv shows - all in the name of science. Meisa has a Ph.D. in chemistry, has birthed two humans, and requires a shoehorn be present in every room of her house.
Dr. Kim Cobb
Kim Cobb’s research uses corals and cave stalagmites to probe the mechanisms of past, present, and future climate change. She received her B.A. from Yale University in 1996, and her Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 2002. She spent two years at Caltech in the Department of Geological and Planetary Sciences before joining the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2004. Kim has sailed on multiple oceanographic cruises to the deep tropics and led caving expeditions to the rainforests of Borneo in support of her research. Kim has received numerous awards for her research, most notably a NSF CAREER Award in 2007, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2008. She is an Editor for Geophysical Research Letters, sits on the international CLIVAR Pacific Panel, and serves on the Advisory Council for the AAAS Leshner Institute for Public Engagement, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, 314action, and 500 Women Scientists. As a mother to four, Kim is a strong advocate for women in science. She is also devoted to the clear and frequent communication of climate change to the public through speaking engagements and social media.
Dr. Ian Bogost
Dr. Ian Bogost is an author and an award-winning game designer. He is Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he also holds an appointment in the Scheller College of Business. Bogost is also Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC, an independent game studio, and a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic. He is author or co-author of several books and book series, and has designed videogames about social and political issues covering topics as varied as airport security, consumer debt, disaffected workers, the petroleum industry, suburban errands, pandemic flu, and tort reform. His games have been played by millions of people and exhibited or held in collections throughout the world.
From 1990-1994, Marc was the editor of the Journal of Irreproducible Results. In 1994, after the magazine's publisher decided to abandon the magazine, the founders and entire editorial staff (1955-1994) of the Journal abandoned the publisher, and immediately created Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). The Improbable Research editorial board of more than 50 distinguished scientists includes many Nobel Laureates, several Ig Nobel Prize winners, IQ record holder Marilyn Vos Savant, and a convicted felon. Marc described how it all began, in an essay for The Guardian.
Marc himself has a degree in applied mathematics from Harvard College, spent several years developing optical character recognition computer systems (including a reading machine for the blind) at Kurzweil Computer Products, and later founded Wisdom Simulators, which used computers to give people experience in making excruciating decisions. He is a prolific author of books, articles, podcasts, and operas, and has done annual speaking tours with the Ig Nobel Prize across Europe. Check out his TED talk here on this award that makes people laugh, then think.
Janece Shaffer is the founder and chief story consultant for StoryCentric, an organization that collaborates with companies and individuals to create impactful stories for professional success. In this role, Shaffer leverages her 25 years of experience as a writer/ content developer/marketer crafting stories in a variety of settings (nonprofit, academic, arts, for-profit) and as a nationally produced, award-winning playwright who has had seven world premiere productions at the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre. StoryCentric starts with the understanding that everyone has a story to tell and StoryCentric clients leave knowing their story is their differentiator. For more information, go to storycentric.me.
Dr. Jennifer Leavey
Dr. Jennifer Leavey is the Integrated Science Curriculum Coordinator for the Georgia Tech College of Sciences where she has served as a faculty member in the School of Biological Sciences since 2005. She grew up in Decatur and earned her B.S. from Georgia Tech in 1995 and Ph.D. from Emory in 2001. She is the director of the Georgia Tech Urban Honey Bee Project, an interdisciplinary educational initiative with the goal of recruiting and retaining students in STEM careers through the study of how urban habitats affect honey bee health and how technology can be used to study bees. She is also the director of the Science and MAth Research Training (SMART) Living Learning Community, a National Science Foundation-funded program that provides scholarship and academic support to students with demonstrated financial need who wish to pursue STEM careers. In her spare time, Jennifer fronts Leucine Zipper and the Zinc Fingers, a band that writes bacterial love songs and punk rock anthems about entropy.
Sonya Collins is an independent journalist covering health care, medicine, and biomedical research. She is a regular contributor to WebMD Magazine, WebMD.com, CURE, Genome, Pharmacy Today, Staying Sharp, and Yale Medicine. Her stories have also appeared in Scientific American, Proto, Psoriatic Arthritis Today, Georgia Health News, Family Circle, and local publications across the state of Georgia. She speaks with students, journalists, scientists and science communicators frequently on the topics of health and science writing and reporting, the science journalism profession, building a freelance business, and communicating effectively with the media.
Sheila L. Tefft is a senior lecturer in the Emory University Department of English and specializes in science writing about health and climate change, composition, and multimedia journalism. A reporter, editor and foreign correspondent for almost 25 years, she served as Emory Journalism director 2000-2009. Prior to joining Emory, she taught journalism and composition courses at Louisiana State University. She spent 12 years in Asia where she was a correspondent and bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor in Beijing, Bangkok and New Delhi. She attended Marquette University and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. She received a M.Sc. degree in economic history from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1977. She also has worked for The Chicago Tribune and The Atlanta Constitution and freelanced for many other publications.
Dr. Nicole Sharp
Dr. Nicole Sharp is an engineer, writer, and science communicator specializing in fluid dynamics. As a PhD student, she created the popular fluid dynamics blog FYFD, which she now runs full-time. In 2014, she completed her PhD in aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University studying the effects of surface roughness on hypersonic aerodynamics. She earned her Master’s degree from Cornell University studying subsonic turbulence and completed my undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University, also in aerospace engineering.
Terraso's love of science began in 1983 when he stumbled across Mr. Wizard's World on Nickelodeon. Approximately 21 minutes later he was hooked. Science wasn't, as he had experienced in his third grade classroom, a boring recitation of rules, facts and things nobody would ever need to use once they got out of school. No, Mr. Wizard showed that science could explain what was happening, how it happened and most importantly why. In addition, it could even be used to predict the future of what is likely to happen. Since then he has spent time as a story teller first in news and then public relations. He helped launch the Atlanta Science Festival as its first Communications Director and has worked for Georgia Tech, CNN, ABC News and most recently the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. He's currently a freelance public relations consultant and has recently trying is hand at fiction writing.
Dr. David Hu
Dr. David Hu is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering and Biology at Georgia Tech, focusing on the biomechanics of animal locomotion. Dr. Hu’s research has played a role in educating the public in science and engineering. He has been an invited guest on numerous television and radio shows to discuss his research, including Good Morning America, National Public Radio, The Weather Channel, and Discovery Channel. His ant research was featured on the cover of the Washington Post in 2011. His work has also been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, National Geographic, Popular Science and Discover His laboratory appeared on 3D TV as part of a nature documentary by 3DigitalVision, “Fire ants: the invincible army,” available on Netflix.