Invited Speakers


We are pleased to announce Marshall Shepherd as our keynote speaker for ComSciCon-ATL 2019!

marshall shepherd

Dr. Marshall Shepherd

Dr. Shepherd is frequently sought as an expert on weather, climate, and remote sensing. He routinely appears on CBS Face The Nation, NOVA, The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, The Weather Channel and several others. His TedX Atlanta Talk on “Slaying Climate Zombies” is one of the most viewed climate lectures on YouTube. Dr. Shepherd is also frequently asked to advise key leaders at NASA, the White House, Congress, Department of Defense, and officials from foreign countries. In February 2013, Dr. Shepherd briefed the U.S. Senate on climate change and extreme weather. He has also written several editorials for CNN, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and numerous other outlets and has been featured in Time Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and NPR Science Friday. He has over 90 peer-reviewed scholarly publications. Dr. Shepherd has attracted $3 million dollars in extramural research support from NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and U.S. Forest Service. Dr. Shepherd was also instrumental in leading the effort for UGA to become the 78th member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a significant milestone for UGA and establishing UGA’s Major in Atmospheric Sciences.

Ethics in SciComm Panel

aaron levine

Aaron Levine, Ph.D.

Dr. Aaron D. Levine is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech and a Guest Researcher in the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is also Co-Director for Engineering Workforce Development for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT). His research focuses on the intersection between public policy and bioethics and examines the development and oversight of contentious areas of biomedical research and healthcare, such as stem cell research and assisted reproduction. In 2012, he received a NSF CAREER award to examine the impact of ethical controversy on graduate science education and the development of scientific careers, a project that highlighted the importance of scientific communication for scientists in contentious fields. He is the author of Cloning: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld Publications, 2007), an accessible introduction to the science of cloning and embryonic stem cells and the ethical and policy controversies this science inspires. He was recently appointed as an AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow for 2019-2020. Aaron completed his Ph.D. in Public Affairs at Princeton University, where his dissertation research examined the impact of public policy on the development of human embryonic stem cell science. He also holds an M. Phil. from the University of Cambridge, where, as a Churchill Scholar, he studied computational biology at the Sanger Centre and developed algorithms to help analyze the human genome sequence, and a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar.

paul wolpe

Dr. Paul Root Wolpe

Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D. is the Raymond Schinazi Distinguished Research Professor of Jewish Bioethics, Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Biological Behavior, and Sociology, and the Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. Dr. Wolpe served for 15 years as the first Senior Bioethicist for NASA. He is Editor-in-Chief of American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience, the leading journal in neuroethics, and he sits on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals in medicine and ethics. Dr. Wolpe is the President of the Association of Bioethics Program Directors, the past President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, a Fellow of the Hastings Center, and a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the country’s oldest medical society.

veronica vanmontfrans

Dr. Veronica van Montfrans  

Veronica van Montfrans is the Director of Learning Sciences Innovation and Research at Georgia Tech and Emory’s Biomedical Engineering department. She is currently working with a dedicated research team to build a more inclusive experience for students within the department, and integrate entrepreneurial minded learning. Dr. van Montfrans has facilitated numerous science communication and outreach workshops for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty, and is an advisory board member for the non-profit Letters to a Pre-Scientist. Her main research focus is the development of metacognitive skills that promote social justice thinking in the classroom. 


SciComm Audiences

barbara coble

Dr. Barbara Coble

Dr. Coble is the founder of Emory's Graduation Generation—a program focused on outreach to under-served students in Atlanta public schools. Her mission is to mobilize the students, faculty, and staff of Emory University to collaborate with K-12 schools and community organizations to provide/support students through educational growth opportunities.

james porter

Dr. James W. Porter 

Dr. Porter is the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Emeritus at the University of Georgia.  Dr. Porter received his Bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University.
He has testified before Congress four times about the effects of climate change on coral reefs.  His current research on coral health is funded by a joint NIH-NSF Ecology of Infectious Disease Program.
In 2005 he received the Eugene P. Odum Award for environmental education from the Ecological Society of America, and in 2006, he was elected President of Sigma Xi, a scientific honor society with more than 160,000 members worldwide, including all living Nobel Laureates.
Dr. Porter's award winning photographs have appeared in Life Magazine and the New York Times.  His work has been featured on ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, and CNN.
His documentary film, Chasing Coral, to which he contributed as the Chief Scientific Advisor and a Principal Cast Member, won First Place at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, a 2017 Peabody Award, and the 2018 Emmy for Best Nature Documentary.

marc merlin

Marc Merlin

Marc Merlin is the executive director of the Atlanta Science Tavern, a community-based public science forum founded by Josh Gough and Carol Potter in 2008 and organized on, now with over 7,400 members. The core program of the Science Tavern has always been a once-a-month Saturday dinner at Atlanta's landmark Manuel's Tavern where science-inclined friends and other like-minded folks gather over food and drink to hear a local scientist discuss their research. Google "Atlanta Science Tavern" to find out more.

Data Viz & Visual Comm

mica duran

Mica Duran is a board-certified medical illustrator, providing hand-drawn traditional and digital illustration for the medical science community. A diverse list of clients includes large pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, scientific publishers, surgeons, and malpractice defense attorneys. Mica received her Master of Science degree from the Medical College of Georgia; and undergraduate interdisciplinary degrees in scientific illustration and graphic design from the University of Georgia.

shaw science

Michael Shaw, MD was an educational filmmaker prior to attending medical school at Emory University School of Medicine. After a residency in internal medicine, Dr. Shaw served as an educational media specialist for the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. In the 1990s he was selected by NIH to produce several landmark programs including the National Institute of Mental Health 50th Anniversary program, the story of the Human Genome Project and the National Asthma Education Program of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. He is the only physician elected to the prestigious Directors Guild of America. During his career he produced the scientific communications for 70 major pharmaceutical product launches, produced seven national PBS specials, and has won 340 major media industry awards. Dr. Shaw now serves as the president of his company Shaw Science---a strategic science and digital communications agency. His experienced team of MDs, PhDs, PharmDs, marketers, and creatives enables them to work across medical and commercial functions, developing the early scientific strategy for emerging compounds and supporting the commercial strategy for marketed products.

alex nazzari

Alex Nazzari is an undergraduate student at Emory studying chemistry and biology. She is the president of Science.Art.Wonder., a student organization, at Emory and Georgia Tech, focused on science communication. She leads the Scientist-Artist parntership program and organizes science-inspired art showcases around Atlanta. 

becky scheel

Becky Scheel obtained her M.S. in digital media from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her focus is on designing complex, dynamic, and unfamiliar environments with emerging technology. She is a human who cares deeply about individuals and how she can better their experiences through design. With over a decade of working as a designer at Zoo, Becky has fostered new experiences despite sizeable barriers and hopes that her work continues to improve lives of both humans and animals.


Advocacy & Policy

jasmine clark

Dr. Jasmine Clark

Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Dr. Clark is a Lecturer of Microbiology and Anatomy and Physiology at Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. She received her PhD in Microbiology from Emory University. She also currently serves as a State Representative for Georgia’s House District 108 in Gwinnett County. 

berry brosi

Dr. Berry J. Brosi

Dr. Brosi is Winship Distinguished Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Emory University. He is a community ecologist whose research program is focused on how both biodiversity and the structure of ecological interaction networks affect ecological stability and functioning, using both theoretical and empirical approaches. His empirical work has primarily used plant-pollinator interactions and networks as a model system. He has also worked at the interface of policy and science, primarily on questions related to the administration of the US Endangered Species Act, using data-driven approaches in collaboration with Eric Biber, Professor of Law at UC-Berkeley.

john bowers

John W. Bowers, M.S. 

John currently serves as Chief of Game Management for the Wildlife Resources Division where he directs and leads the Section.  The Game Management Section is a $30 million enterprise with more than 240 full and part time associates that delivers science-driven habitat and timber management on more than 1 million acres of public lands for diversity of wildlife species; is responsible for the biological monitoring and management of Georgia’s game (hunted) species; establishes hunting seasons and regulations; provides technical information to guide statutory policy for wildlife and hunting; and administers several other integrated programs. This enterprise serves as the foundation for Georgia’s hunting economy, which is valued at more than $900 million dollars.

John is a member of the National, Southeastern Section and State Chapters of The Wildlife Society (TWS) where he is a Certified Wildlife Biologist. He received the Wildlife Society’s Special Service Recognition Award in 2014 for his wildlife policy efforts and involvement.  Additionally, he serves as Chair of the Wildlife Resources Committee of the Southeast Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and serves on the Wildlife Resources Policy and Sustainable Use of Wildlife Committees for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies wherein policy and position statements are developed on important wildlife conservation issues.

robert butera

Dr. Robert J. Butera 

Dr. Butera is the associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering. He has been a member of the ECE faculty since 1999 and holds a joint appointment in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research currently focuses on novel methods for peripheral and autonomic nerve modulation using electrical signaling, combining engineering and neuroscience to tackle clinically motivated problems.

Highly dedicated to both undergraduate and graduate education, Dr. Butera served as director of the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program from 2005-2008 and as faculty director of Graduate Studies at Georgia Tech from 2009-2011. He has also led Brain Beats, a large-scale research project on human cognitive rhythm generation conducted by a large team of undergraduates that is part of the Vertically Integrated Projects Program. From 2012-2015, he was co-founder and faculty director of the Grand Challenges Living Learning Community.


Story Centric Workshop

janece schaffer

Janece Schaffer is nationally produced, award-winning playwright, who has had seven world premiere productions at the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre in Atlanta including her most recent work, a musical titled Troubadour featured original music by Grammy Award-winning artist and Sugarland star Kristian Bush.

In addition, Shaffer has also spent the last 25 years as a writer/editor/marketer crafting stories in a variety of settings -- as part of a global public health non-profit, a major arts institution, an internationally respected academic institution and as part of an entrepreneurial for-profit company.  In January 2016, she leveraged all of this experience to launch her company StoryCentric, where as chief story consultant Shaffercollaborates with companies and individuals to create impactful stories for professional success.

Science & Social Media: Creating an Online Persona

manu muraro

Manu Muraro founded Your Social Team in 2017 and has since then worked with over 200 brands including Ponce City Market, Mailchimp and the High Museum of Art. She is also the co-founder of women's conference, Let's Conference in partnership with ATLGirl Gang. Manu has a background in creative, marketing and strategy. She is the former King of Pops Marketing (and Social Media) Director, and former Cartoon Network Creative Manager.


Pitch Training with Massive Science

Dan Samorodnitsky

Dan Samorodnitsky is the Science Editor at Massive Science. He studied neurobiology at Cornell University and got a PhD in biochemistry at SUNY Buffalo. He worked on proteins, prodding them, making them fold and unfold, click on to DNA and then click off, or wrap around each other into massive protein tendrils. He would read paper after paper, wishing scientists would write like humans. Now, at Massive, he's finding hidden science stories and trying to exterminate the word “furthermore."