Invited Experts



Keynote Speaker

Deb Morrison, PhD, University of Washington

Deb Morrison

Dr. Deb Morrison collaborates with those involved in K-16 education to design equitable learning experiences for students and teachers, primarily within science education. Her research focuses on the ways in which those involved within systems of education navigate new identities and narratives of how to engage in equitable educational practices. Specifically, Deb centers her research in practice, working with educators, administrators and teacher educators in the use of measurement to uncover inequity and collaborative design processes to create equitable learning experiences. Deb is currently at the University of Washington’s Institute of Science and Math Education where she is engaged work that spans local to global scales in areas of education, communication, and outreach, particularly to do with climate change. Her research is grounded in theories of abolition, de-colonialism, transformative learning, design-based research, and action research.


Plenary Speaker: What is Jargon?

Lorne Farovitch, University of Rochester


Mr. Farovitch is Deaf scientist and a PhD student in the Translational Biomedical Science. Mr. Farovitch has a goal to become a field epidemiologist. Mr. Farovitch has worked in several laboratory settings, using novel approaches to detect disease and to classify infectious specimens collected through fieldwork. In addition to his laboratory experience, Mr. Farovitch successfully conducted mixed-method fieldwork in Costa Rica, Tinian, Saipan, Palau, New York, and Washington, D.C. as part of wider scientific teams, frequently focused on the comprehensive surveillance of tick-borne disease. Of unique importance, Mr. Farovitch demonstrates specific interest in addressing the needs of the Deaf population, one of the most vulnerable during disease outbreaks due to limited access to language and health communications. Thus, Mr. Farovitch simultaneously strives to conduct meaningful field-based science while also impacting the systems that provide the proper accessible health resources for the Deaf population in their primary language.




Workshop Leaders


Eric Henderson, Science Riot

Eric Henderson

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


Digital SciComm Basics

Christine Herman

Christine Herman


Christine Herman is a PhD chemist turned public radio journalist. In her current role at Illinois Public Media (the NPR member station in Urbana, Illinois) she focuses on health reporting. She continues to keep one foot in the science writing world as a frequent contributor to the “Spotlights” sections of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. 

Christine is a 2018-19 Rosalynn Carter mental health journalism fellow. She has received regional and national awards for her work, most recently from the Public Media Journalists Association for her reporting on children’s mental health. 

Before getting into public radio, Christine was a freelance science writer with bylines in Chemical & Engineering News, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News and Scientific American’s 60-Second Science podcast. She’s a mother of three and an aspiring aerial artist.




Byron Stewart, Northwestern University

Byron Stewart

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.


Data Visualization

Steve Franconeri, Northwestern University

Steve Franconeri

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.


How to Start a Podcast

Sadie Witkowski, AAAS Mass Media Fellow

Sadie Witkowski


Sadie Witkowski is a PhD candidate at Northwestern University within the Brain, Behavior, and Cognition area of the Psychology department. Hery specific research interests lie in how our memories change when they are stored, particularly during sleep. Her main research question focuses on how our brain decides how to store a memory and if we can influence that process during sleep? Besides research, Sadie spends much of her time working on various science outreach projects. In 2016, she started the podcast PhDrinking. In it, she interviews graduate students from a variety of fields about their research with the express purpose of explaining complex ideas to a lay audience. She has also written several articles published at NPR, Smithsonian Magazine, and Voice of America. In previous years, she also helped organize both the Chicago and national ComSciCon (communicating science workshop for graduate students).



How to Make a YouTube Video

Sheheryar Ahsan, Field Museum

Sheheryar Ahsan

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.




Who is the SciComm Audience??

Dietram Scheufele, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Dietram Scheufele

Dietram A. Scheufele is the John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in the Morgridge Institute for Research. His research focuses on public attitudes and policy dynamics surrounding emerging science. He is an elected member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Communication Association, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. Scheufele currently co-chairs the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Standing Committee on Advancing Science Communication Research and Practice, and serves on NASEM’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) Advisory Committee, the Board on Health Sciences Policy, and the Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS) Advisory Committee. Since 2012, he has co-organized four NASEM Colloquia on the Science of Science Communication.


Lindsay Maldonado, Shedd Aquarium

Lindsay Moldonado

Dr. Lindsay Maldonado was born and raised in Chicago. She has a Ph.D. in Child Development from Loyola University Chicago and Erikson Institute. For over a decade, Dr. Maldonado has conducted research and evaluation in museums and other informal learning environments. She has engaged in research that examines the interaction between the personal, social, and physical contexts of learning in museums, uncovering the ways in which visitor characteristics, social interactions, and exhibition and program design influence the processes and outcomes of learning. Her current research focuses on how parent-child interactions and exhibit design support children’s learning in museums. Currently, Dr. Maldonado is the Director of Research and Evaluation at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago where she leads the development, implementation, and management of institutional research and evaluation. Dr. Maldonado is also the VP of Professional Development for the Visitor Studies Association, an organization that focuses on understanding and improving visitor experiences in informal learning environmental through research and evaluation.


Jennifer Caddick, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Jennifer Caddick


A regional leader on Great Lakes issues, Jennifer is the Alliance for the Great Lakes Vice President of Communications and Engagement. Over the past five years, she has transformed how the Alliance communicates and connects with people around the region. She manages a team of five and leads strategy for the Alliance’s public relations, marketing, and volunteer engagement programs. Each day she and her team are focused on raising awareness about Great Lakes issues and making it as easy as possible for people to get involved in protecting the lakes. 

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.



Chris Bresky, Adler Planitarium



SciComm Jobs

Kate Golembiewski, Field Museum



Kate Golembiewski is a science writer on the PR team at the Field Museum, where she publicizes the research done by the museum's scientists. She originally wanted to be a scientist herself until she realized that she hates titrating things; she got her Bachelor's in chemistry and French at Kalamazoo College and and her Master's in science writing from Johns Hopkins University. Kate is passionate about making science accessible and engaging for everyone regardless of their background, and her work has appeared in the Atlantic, Discover Magazine, National Geographic Voices, and Atlas Obscura. Kate also hosts the science comedy show "A Scientist Walks into a Bar" at the Hideout. She loves all animals except for great apes, which she finds creepy.



Monica Metzler, Illinois Science Council


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.


Patrick Thomas, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Patrick Thomas

Patrick Thomas is a writer, urban planner, journalist and public affairs specialist at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), where he documents the many innovative ways the MWRD works to protect our water environment and performs outreach throughout the Chicago area to encourage communities to take ownership of their water environment. Through his multi-media efforts, Thomas has helped bring emerging water issues to the forefront while promoting the many solutions the MWRD has developed to work toward a resilient Chicago region. Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Duquesne University and a master’s degree of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Cat Scharon, Field Museum