Danielle N Lee
Danielle N Lee is a biologist who studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology. She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. She began blogging about science and science education as a way to engage African-American and urban audiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). She is a vocal activist of science engagement of traditionally underrepresented and underserved audiences and helped found the National Science & Technology News Service, a media literacy initiative to bring more science news to African-American audiences and promote science news source diversity in mainstream media. Danielle is the conference's Keynote speaker and will be delivering a free, public lecture on the August 25th at 4:30pm.
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.
Greta anchors weekends for WBEZ and reports on everything from Pi Day to innovative ways of saving endangered ferrets. She also co-hosts WBEZ’s Nerdette Podcast. Prior to joining WBEZ in 2014. Greta hosted Morning Edition at WCQS in Asheville, North Carolina and at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Greta has a BA in English from Saint Olaf College and a MS in Journalism from Northwestern University. In her abundant free time, Greta enjoys reading, knitting, and walking her corgi.
Alessandro is a visualization practitioner, with experience spanning both industry and academic research. He works with the Portfolio Construction Group at Citadel, where he creates visual analytics tools for risk managers and investment teams across the firm.
Prior to Citadel, Alessandro worked at Northwestern University as a senior visualization specialist. He developed tools for scalable interactive visualization in Astrophysics and High-Energy Physics, and was responsible for software development on the 50-Megapixel immersive display wall at the Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging.
Alessandro holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He conducted his research at the UIC Electronic Visualization Lab, where he studied collaborative visualization techniques in large-scale immersive environments.
Website / Blog: http://www.febret.com/
Chris Bresky is a trained artist and educator who currently works at the Adler Planetarium finding creative ways for students to engage with science. He is interested in using story and narrative to inspire exploration. Chris has been awarded the Jon Lipsky Award for Excellence in Playwriting for his immersive theatre work about Gemini 4 and the life and death challenges of space exploration. He is also the author and illustrator of the shark holiday mash-up,"The 12 Days of a Great White Christmas." Currently, Chris is partnering with Chicago high schoolers and scientists to embark on the first student-driven underwater meteorite hunt :"The Aquarius Project."
Rabiah Mayas is the Associate Director of Science in Society at Northwestern University, helping to lead K-12 STEM education programs and partnerships in Chicago and Evanston. Rabiah completed her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Chicago, then spent nine years exploring her passion for science education and public engagement at Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Rabiah is a certified Emergency Medical Technician and loves hopping on a plane to almost anywhere, running (albeit slowly) and visiting family on the East and West coasts.
Tyler Ross is a Chicago-based stand up comedian by way of Cleveland. His silly and playful style of comedy leads to an entertaining experience that is unique to each show. He has performed throughout the US and Canada at comedy clubs, breweries, art galleries and anywhere people will let him yell his jokes. Tyler's jokes have been featured in the book “Have You Heard the One About..”. He works at Laugh Out Loud Theater where he teaches with the LOL Youth Ensemble and Stand Up Comedy Class. Tyler also really enjoys penguins and tacos!
Jim Daley is a freelance journalist who writes about science and healthcare. He studied ecology and evolution at the University of Illinois at Chicago and worked in basic and clinical research for several years before pursuing writing full-time. In April 2017, he began co-producing Honest Conversations with Real Scientists in Logan Square with Kerry Couch and Joey Pasterski. The bimonthly show brings local scientists together for an informal panel discussion about a topic in the physical or life sciences. A lifelong Chicagoan, Jim is still trying to decide if he likes hanging out on rooftops or front stoops more.
Twitter : @jimdaleywrites
Eric Henderson is a nationally touring comedian from Denver, CO. He brings to the stage a quick witted, unique style of observation humor and storytelling that never leaves the audience disappointed. In his free time Eric loves science and has been working in part with Science Riot Inc for the past few years teaching various STEM professionals new and exciting techniques to help spread knowledge by incorporating humor.
Also known for co-hosting a monthly food-based-showcase called 3 Course Comedy (available on most podcast platforms). Eric can be been seen at comedy clubs, casinos, and coffee shops all over North America. Performing regularly for The Comedy Bar, Comedy Works Entertainment and the Denver Improv. Eric has also been a part of the High Plains Comedy Festival (3x) and has opened for well known comedians including Josh Blue, Tommy Davidson, and Andy Kindler
Ben Marcus received his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of Chicago in 2016, where he studied the role of learning and memory in drug addiction. He spent a year as an account executive in science communication at HDMZ, a life science marketing agency in Chicago, where he wrote op-eds, technical articles, and blog posts for biology trade magazines on behalf of several life science companies. Ben is now a senior account executive in public relations at CG Life, another life science marketing agency, where he develops media strategies and creates content for a variety of stories about cutting-edge biological tools and techniques. He is also a co-editor of the Illinois Science Council blog and the co-founder of SciReach, a global directory of science communication and outreach organizations.
I graduated from the University of Chicago with a PhD in Ecology and Evolution in 2010, having focused on genomics/bioinformatics. After graduation, I did a one-year postdoc with Megan McNerney, and then started writing full-time, primarily about baseball at FiveThirtyEight. Since then I've left FiveThirtyEight to become a consultant and freelance journalist, publishing at sites like Vice, Slate, the New York Times, and others.
Jay reviews and develops nominations in science, engineering, and math, and leads the program’s engagement with experts in STEM disciplines as a Senior Program Officer within the MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program. He also contributes to ongoing and new initiatives at the Foundation, and is an Internal Advisor to the 100&Change and Nuclear Challenges programs. After working in industrial and entrepreneurial drug discovery, Jay conducted research in systems chemistry at Emory University and worked at the federal level on a variety of policy initiatives as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation. He has a B.A. in chemistry from Kalamazoo College and PhD in bioorganic chemistry from the University of Chicago.
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, concentrating on Shakespearean Studies, 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 as well as The History of Satire Series for The Second City Training Center. She has performed musical improv with Baby Wants Candy at The Edinburgh 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, The Second City Improv All-Stars at The Up Comedy Club, and tours the world with her comedy partner Susan Messing as The Boys. She is most happy when she is teaching improv.
Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9VvJNTRKSE&authuser=0
A regional leader on Great Lakes issues, Jennifer works as the Alliance for the Great Lakes Vice President of Communications and Engagement each day to make it easier for people to raise their voices and take action to protect the lakes. In her role leading the Alliance’s communications team, she manages the development and implementation of strategies that get the word out about the Alliance’s campaigns and make it as easy as possible for people who care about the Great Lakes to get involved. Over the past few years, Jennifer has transformed how the Alliance communicates and connects with people around the region.
Before joining the Alliance, Jennifer was the Executive Director of Save The River, a grassroots advocacy group working to protect the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, NY. She has also worked in communications roles for several Chesapeake Bay organizations. Jennifer received her undergraduate degree from New York University and a master’s degree from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Brian Nord’s current research is in teaching intelligent machines to search for clues of the universe’s origin and destiny. In particular, he uses artificial intelligence to study the cosmos, including dark energy, dark matter, and the early universe. Nord also communicates with the public regarding science, science policy, diversity, and inclusion. He trains scientists in public communication, advocates for science funding, and works with high school students in the classroom and in research environments.
Nord is a Visiting Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and a Senior Member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago. He leads a team of researchers (deepskieslab.com) who apply AI to questions in cosmology.
Nord is co-leader of education and public engagement at KICP, where he organizes a year-long institute that provides opportunities for high school students to innovate in hands-on physics experiences outside the classroom. Nord is also co-creator of ThisIsBlackLight.com, an online curriculum to teach about the Black experience in America. You can find him on
Elizabeth Lenaghan is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Cook Family Writing Program and the founding director of the Graduate Writing Place at Northwestern University. She works closely with undergraduate and graduate students from across the university, helping them to write clearly and persuasively for a variety of different audiences. In her work at the Graduate Writing Place, Lenaghan conducts workshops, writing groups, boot camps, and training sessions for advanced PhD candidates, all of which bring together students from a wide variety of disciplines. These interdisciplinary atmospheres, Lenaghan finds, provide students with excellent opportunities to learn to see their research through others’ perspectives.
Jennifer Ward is the author of 27 books for children and adults, most of which introduce and share elements of science and nature in an artistic, engaging way for young readers.
Her picture book Mama Built a Little Nest - which features the variety of ways birds engineer their nests - was honored in the Illinois Reads Program, included in the Library of Congress National Book Festival “52 Great Reads”, a “100 Best Books” selection by the New York Public Library, and listed as “Best Informational Book for Young Readers” by the Chicago Public Library, among other honors. Forthcoming books by Jennifer include, “I Love Birds! 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander and Explore Birds with Kids” and the picture books “Round” and “How to Find a Bird”. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and two dogs, where she writes full-time.
Website: www.jenniferwardbooks.com , Twitter: @jenwardbooks
Erika Salomon is a Data Scientist at the University of Chicago's Center for Data Science and Public Policy, where she helps governments use machine learning to deliver services more efficiently, effectively, and equitably. Her work focuses on early interventions for people involved with the criminal justice system and on economic development. She has a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Chicago, an MA in Cognition and Culture from Queen's University Belfast, and a BA in English from the University of Maryland. As a psychologist, she studied judgment and decision-making, with an emphasis on dsbias in explanation and effective communication about climate change.
Working as the Digital Media Producer for ‘The Brain Scoop’ at the Field Museum, Sheheryar Ahsan has cultivated his passion for video production into his professional career. He received his BS in Media Arts and Science from the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing. As a videographer, Sheheryar has been able to collaborate with many different creatives to develop a mixed variety of media, ranging from educational content to narrative films. He has a Digital Media Producer of ‘The Brain Scoop” for the past 2 years, he uses his experience to effectively communicate the scientific work being done at the Field Museum, alongside Emily Graslie, the Cheif Curiosity Correspondent.
Social Media: @ThatFriendlyNG
Alexander Toftness is a PhD student in Cognitive Psychology at Iowa State University who mostly publishes in the area of memory and learning from educational videos and in the classroom. He runs ARTexplains Science and History, a YouTube channel that explores strange scientific and pseudo-scientific marvels from history, psychology, anatomy, and other realms of science.
Ms. Nguyen is currently an aide for U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin and has worked in his Chicago district office since 2012. Among other responsibilities, Ms. Nguyen assists with immigration and healthcare concerns and outreach. Ms. Nguyen gained extensive knowledge and experience with the immigrant and refugee communities first as an intern for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and later as a fellow of the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies and an Access to Healthcare Coordinator with the Vietnamese Association of Illinois. It is through her work on healthcare that she connected with the biomedical research community on their efforts to tackle pressing medical needs. Ms. Nguyen holds an M.S. in International Public Service Management from DePaul University and a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Mia DeFino, MS, combines her passion for communicating research clearly with her scientific expertise to help her clients translate complex ideas into meaningful content for their intended audience. Mia started DeFino Consulting, LLC two years ago and began freelancing as a sole proprietor in 2016. Mia works with a variety of clients including pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, medical communication agencies, academic journals, medical magazines, and start-up companies on writing and editing publications, manuscripts, and abstracts. Prior to starting her freelance career, Mia earned her MS in Pharmacology at the University of Washington in Seattle. Mia also has earned the Essential Skills and Publication and Composition certificates from the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA).
Lakshmi Chandrasekaran is an avid freelance science writer based in Chicago. She earned her masters in science journalism with a health and science writing concentration from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Lakshmi’s work has appeared in the Astronomy magazine, PLUS math magazine, HELIX - Science in Society magazine at Northwestern University, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) news, etc. Currently, Lakshmi is the Associate Director, Science Liaison and Writer at the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, where she oversees daily operations in developing and providing scientific data and translating scientific information into language for the general public.
Lakshmi holds a Ph.D. in mathematical sciences from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Her research focused on using mathematical techniques to model nerve cell networks to understand how learning and memory occurs in the brain.
In her free time, Lakshmi enjoys reading about all things math, fiction and cooking.
Monica is Executive Director of the Illinois Science Council (ISC), an independent nonprofit she founded in 2006 to increase public awareness and appreciation of science and technology. Before devoting herself to ISC, Monica served as Vice President at Conlon Public Strategies where she helped organizations navigate the political landscape and achieve their goals in the public arena using expertise gained from an accomplished career in the legal, political and nonprofit sectors. She managed site logistics for a Democratic National Convention, worked in the IL State House, on political campaigns, and was an intellectual property attorney. Monica earned her JD from Duke University School of Law, MA from Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, and BS from Northwestern University. Monica is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.