Rose Eveleth is a journalist and the producer/host of the podcast Flash Forward. At ComSciCon-Chicago 2017, Rose served as the Keynote Speaker. Stories can be found in every aspect of our lives, and science is no exception! Whether exploring our solar system through an intergalactic travel agency, questioning what makes one a cyborg, or contemplating art and creativity through a radio play written by an AI, Rose Eveleth knows a thing or two about telling stories and engaging audiences. In her talk, Rose shares her unique experience exploring complex scientific topics through the time-honored tradition of storytelling as our keynote speaker.
Sara Grady is Editor of HELIX magazine and teaches science writing at Northwestern University. Her academic research centers on audience engagement and cultural narratives. She has worked in publishing and media for 15 years and previously served as a Road Scholar with the Illinois Humanities Council, lecturing on environmental writing. In her previous work, she developed international collaborations to leverage the power of stories and connect people to big ideas and research in inspiring ways. This includes consulting for clients like the BBC and UNESCO World Heritage Trust, and developing public engagement programs for the world’s oldest science festival and the world’s largest book festival. You can read more about some of these programs at sara-grady.com.
Michelle Paulsen has been designing and directing education and science communication programs at Northwestern University for the past six years. Most of her projects are within the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA). In addition, she is the co-founder and director of RSG, Northwestern University’s research communication training program. RSG was started in 2012 with the goals of increasing awareness for the urgent need for excellent science communicators and providing coaching and training for graduate and post doctoral researchers to improve their own presentation skills. The program focuses on three important and basic components of communication: building confidence in all communication roles, enhancing the clarity of the message, and forming a connection with any audience.
Michelle brings a unique perspective to graduate education, having experience as an educator, a program designer, and a school board member. Her teaching experience runs from preschool through graduate school and includes topics that range from communication, planning, and design to mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering, and educational methods.
Sarah Ingraham is an exhibit developer at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago. After studying History and Theater at the University of Chicago, she now uses the narrative tools of those fields to translate complex scientific content into engaging exhibits. She’s passionate about getting kids (and adults!) excited about science through compelling stories, artifacts, and hands-on interactive activities. Her recent exhibits include Extreme Ice, which highlights the urgency of climate change through stunning photography of melting glaciers, and Turn Back the Clock, which uses the iconic Doomsday Clock to call on all of us to take action on the global threats of nuclear weapons and climate change.
James Sweitzer, Ph.D. (U. Chicago, 1978, Astrophysics) began his career at the Adler Planetarium, Chicago, where he served as Assistant Director. After 10 years as a museum professional, Jim returned to the University of Chicago to help create the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica. In 1996, Jim became the Science Project Director to create the new Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Returning to Chicago in 2002, he directed DePaul University’s NASA Space Science Center. In 2004, Jim launched Science Communications Consultants (SCC), a firm that advises on the building and renovation of planetariums, museums and science centers around the world. In 2007, Jim joined the Climate Reality Project where he was trained by Vice President Al Gore. Since 2016, he has been teaching astronomy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well.
Jessica Reimer received her PhD in microbiology from Northwestern University. She started her career in scientific communications working in marketing and public relations agencies. These experiences equipped her with the skills to understand, interpret and translate complex biomedical science and healthcare concepts. After consulting and taking on freelance writing projects she launched her own company, HealthComms, Inc., in 2015. Jessica supports clients in the dissemination of complex scientific content through a variety of outlets. Her current client roster includes numerous agencies, the American Medical Association and Takeda Internal Communications. She enjoys working from home because it allows her to spend more time with her husband, dog and 2-year-old son.
Aaron is the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. After 14 years working in the field of astronomy, a rare opportunity introduced him to a third career change into a field that he did not even know existed – research on learning in museums. He has a B.S. in astronomy and a Ph.D. in science education from Tufts University. He has been the principal investigator on three awards from the National Science Foundation studying citizen science, scientific visualizations and positive youth development associated with afterschool science programs.
Ben’s passion for science communication began in graduate school at the University of Chicago. He realized that while the scientists in his community had much to offer to society, they did not have enough advocates out there who could accurately and effectively share their message. While in school, Ben took this passion to the streets, teaching science classes to Chicago Public School students through Columbia College, speaking to addiction counselors at the Gateway Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment Center about the neuroscience of addiction, and writing the blog for the Illinois Science Council, a nonprofit that aims to inspire interest in science among adults in Chicago. Now, Ben is a public relations specialist for CG Life, a marketing firm that specializes in the life sciences, where he is sharing the latest advancements in biotechnology with the world.
Lisa is a Scientific Communications Associate on the Element Scientific Communications team at Weber Shandwick. Lisa supports a variety of health, science and technology accounts, providing scientific expertise through a communications lens. Lisa’s current work focuses on developing creative and scientifically sound digital communications content.
Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Lisa obtained her PhD in neuroscience at Northwestern University, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. During graduate school, Lisa was a regular contributor to Northwestern University’s Helix Magazine Blog and published articles in Huffington Post Science. Lisa received a Bachelor of Arts degree in behavioral biology from Johns Hopkins University, where she was a Captain of the Varsity Swimming Team.
Charlie Meyerson wears several hats these days: Chicago Public Square proprietor, founding head of news at startup Rivet Radio and principal at his consulting practice, Meyerson Strategy. He’s devoted a career in Chicago to connecting great journalism with growing audiences — online, on air, in print. He’s the winner of a national 2016 Edward R. Murrow Award for online audio investigative reporting — the latest of dozens of awards for his work at Rivet, FM News Chicago, the Chicago Tribune, WNUA and WXRT-FM. He’s held managerial roles at the Tribune, WGN-AM and WNUA. He’s contributed to Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM 91.5 and Crain’s Chicago Business. And he’s served as adjunct professor of journalism at Roosevelt and Northwestern Universities and Columbia College Chicago. With his Rivet colleagues, he shares a U.S. patent for delivering a “contextually relevant media content stream based on listener preference.”
Becky Lang is editor in chief of Discover magazine, where she's worked since early 2013. She moved to the magazine world after 11 years as the health/science/environment editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She's a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Tom Collins studied for his BSc in biology at Cardiff University and his career path has taken him in quite along quite a different route than he expected when starting out. Spending time teaching in Japan, at various environmental centers in the UK, and working as a class teacher in London, he now finds himself in Chicago. As head of science and STEAM at the British International School of Chicago – Lincoln Park (part of the Nord Anglia Education family of schools), Tom is leading a young STEAM department which includes 2 science labs, an art studio, maker space, technology hub, and design lab. Aside from day to day teaching of science to k-5, Tom is working with MIT to develop a STEAM approach to teaching and is inspiring pupils as young as 3 and 4 in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.
Steven Franconeri is a Professor of Psychology at Northwestern, and Director of the Northwestern Cognitive Science Program. His research is on visual thinking, visual communication, and the psychology of data visualization. He directs the Visual Thinking Laboratory, where a team of researchers explore how leveraging the visual system - the largest single system in your brain - can help people think, remember, and communicate more efficiently. His undergraduate training was in computer science and cognitive science at Rutgers University, followed by a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Harvard University, and postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia. His work on both Cognitive Science and Data Visualization has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and the Department of Defense. He has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, and a Psychonomic Society Early Career award, for his research on visual thinking.
Rachael Mason began her career in improvisation at Skidmore College, home of the National College Comedy Festival, with the Ad-Liberal Artists. After graduating with a degree in English Literature, she moved to Chicago to study improv comedy with Del Close. She is now the head of Advanced Improvisation for The Second City where she created the Scenic Improv and Dramatic Improv programs, and The History of Satire Series for The Second City Training Center. She has performed musical improv with Baby Wants Candy at The Edinburg Fringe Festival, directed and performed at The Annoyance, played with The Hot Karl at ComedySportz, and had almost every job at iO (where she was Training Center Director for 8 years), done The Spoletto Festival with The Second City National Touring Company, and is currently in the cast of The Second City Improv All-Stars at The Up Comedy Club as well as with Second City's first resident improv show, The Boys every Friday night at 9pm. She is a mom, jerk, and nerd.
Will Sonheim is a graduate of Northwestern University ('13) with a degree in Radio/TV/Film. Working in Chicago as a filmmaker and actor, Will has worked on award winning short films, web series, online art classes, national commercials and television shows. He served as the full-time Communications Manager for The Neo-Futurists for the past two years and performs regularly around the city. This fall he will be pursuing his MA in Screenwriting at the London Film School.
Byron is adjunct lecturer for Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, Office of Personal Development. He designed and co-teaches two courses titled, Engineering Improv I & II targeted to undergraduate engineering students. Byron is also a science communication instructor for Northwestern’s Ready, Set, Go program where he uses his theatre background as a performer/director to help graduate students take command of the stage and have a presence. Byron has facilitated theatre-based communication workshops and individual coaching sessions for Northwestern University’s Research Experiences for Undergrads, Summer Research Opportunity Program, and Design for America, IIT’s Institute of Design, University of Chicago, University of Illinois Chicago, Columbia College, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Economics. He has provided job talk and tenure talk coaching to graduate students as well as faculty at various research institutions. Byron is a graduate of Howard University, Washington D.C.
Tricia is the Senior Editor of Digital at WBEZ and the co-host of the Nerdette Podcast. She leads the team of producers, reporters and editors responsible for WBEZ's website, apps and social media. Prior to joining WBEZ's digital team, Tricia reported for its news desk and worked on the Front and Center series. After studying journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School, she spend several years as a reporter for the Lansing State Journal. She was a finalist in the KCRW 2013 Radio Race. She makes a mean guacamole and her socks rarely match.
Monica is dedicated to helping people improve their communication skills. As Executive Director of the Illinois Science Council, she is particularly passionate about helping scientists do so. Her approach to closing the gap between those trying to convey science & engineering and those trying to understand it comes from training in law and policy (in which precise communication is critical), coupled with real experience of being a long-time consumer of science outreach, and a deep, practical understanding of marketing science (which requires making it engaging). It’s done with an unbridled passion for understanding science and promoting it widely, and having great respect for scientific education.
Monica is particularly passionate about the education and impact that is possible in the live, in-person format often accompanied by slide visuals using PowerPoint or Prezi. She is a sharp, engaging and sought-after speaker and workshop leader.
Lindsay Obermeier studied Wildlife Ecology and Biology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. After graduating she worked at a bird sanctuary as an animal trainer and show presenter, traveling the country to present free flight bird shows at various venues including Little Rock Zoo and Milwaukee County Zoo. In 2011, she became a Raptor Trainer/Naturalist at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee, WI. She is now the Raptor Program Manager, running a program of 18 captive birds of prey and continuing to develop innovative and effective environmental educational programs.