Invited Experts


Nichole Bennett

Nichole Bennett, M.A., researches science communication in the Ph.D. program at The Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at The University of Texas. Her work focuses on the intersection between science, media, and the public, focusing on strategic science communication and social justice. Before this, she researched the biological impacts of climate change while earning her Masters in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from The University of Texas. She is also a theater performer, instructor, director, and technical designer and has won three B. Iden Payne awards and an Austin Chronicle Critics Table Award. Nichole teaches improv to neurodivergent youth through The Hideout Theatre’s Building Connections Program and created STEMprov, where she teaches scientists improv to boost their communication skills (


Carrie Cameron

Carrie Cameron, PhD, is associate professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her research over the past 10 years has focused on the development of scientific communication skills and their role in influencing science identity and intention to pursue research careers. She serves as PI on two major NIH grants, one conducting mentor training in SciComm and researching the training's impact on mentors and on their trainees, and another on communicating across difference in the research environment. She has led MD Anderson's Scientific Elevator Speech Competitions, featured on NPR,  for over 7 years and developed MD Anderson's Scientific English program for researchers with English as a second language. Carrie holds a PhD in Linguistics from Rice University and a BA in Russian from the Monterey Institute.

Mike de la Flor

Mike de la Flor, CMI, PhD researches the neural substrates of behavior with a specific focus in the neural mechanisms and circuits of cognition like learning and memory. He is also a biology lecturer and genetics lab coordinator in the Biology and Biochemistry department at the University of Houston. Mike is a board certified medical illustrator with over 25 years of experience in medical illustration. Mike has authored four computer graphics titles, including The Digital Biomedical Illustration Handbook, and penned over one hundred articles on various topics for computer graphics magazines.



Jaime Gonzales

Jaime González serves as the Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. His work prioritizes building partnerships, designing and managing projects, and assisting communities and other organizations to help make Houston a more healthy, resilient, physically cooler, better-connected, and biologically diverse city. Jaime is one of a growing corps of over 20 Nature Conservancy city leads using nature-based solutions to Build Healthier Cities throughout North America and the world. Mr. González also serves as the Vice President and Co-founder of the Coastal Prairie Partnership, as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the North American Association for Environmental Education, and as a member of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Texas Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee. He has worked for 21 years in conservation and environmental education in the Greater Houston region, including as the Community Conservation Director at the Katy Prairie Conservancy (2006-2018) and as Naturalist and Conservation Lead at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center (1998-2005). Mr. González earned a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction-Science Education and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Houston. He also earned a Certificate in Environmental Communication from the Nicholas School for the Environment at Duke University, a Texas Educator Certificate (Science, Grades 4-8) from the Texas Educational Agency, and expert certificates in urban environmental education and civic ecology from the Civic Ecology Lab at Cornell University.


Katie House


Katie House is an Engineer, Connector, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, & HUGE advocate for Women in STEM! As founder and coach, she created her company to work with clients to up their game when it comes to presentation skills and public speaking so that they can be the best leaders, role models and influencers they can be. She is actively involved in the Women's Energy Network and sits on the board as the Community Initiatives Director, and spends much of her free time volunteering with STEM outreach programs. Professionally, Katie is currently the Innovation Projects Lead at Darcy Partners, a technology scouting and consulting firm in Downtown Houston, as well as a certified yoga teacher.


Scott Holmes

Scott Holmes, CMI is a board certified medical illustrator in Houston specializing in medical illustration and design for the scientific and medical community. He helps surgeons, scientists, researchers and start-ups with presentations, posters, grants, publications and marketing pieces. He designs easy-to-follow figures and illustrations that improve journal placement by conveying complex scientific ideas clearly. Scott Holmes graduated with a major in Medical Illustration in 1995 from a joint program between Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Some past projects include completion of the reconstruction of the Australopithecus afarensis AL-288 "Lucy" and design of anatomical models and CPR simulators. Scott worked at UT McGovern Medical School in Houston for over 12 years in the Department of Surgery, as well as a few years simultaneously in Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Pediatric Surgery and the Center for Traumatic Injury Research (CeTIR). In 2011 he joined the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery where he supports 14 of the 15 sections and divisions in the department of surgery. In addition he provides media support to the chairman's office and the Office of Surgical Research. Scott works in a wide range of media, including surgical and scientific illustration, marketing, web content, social media, graphic design, animation, photography, communications and event support to strengthen communication within the department and its footprint in the scientific and medical community.  


Gary Jordan

Gary Jordan, Public Affairs Officer at NASA, has been working at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX for 5 years. His responsibilities include managing media relations for the International Space Station (ISS) and Commercial Crew, leading the digital multimedia content team, hosting live television commentary of dynamic spaceflight in Mission Control Houston, and producing and hosting “Houston We Have a Podcast.”

Gary first started at NASA in 2012 through their Pathways Internship program while he was still a student at Penn State University. As an intern, he directed and edited a parody music video titled “NASA Johnson Style,” which now has over 6.5 million views on YouTube. In 2014, Gary began his career as a full-time NASA employee in internal communications where he lead a team to unify communication platforms and standardize branding, for which he would be awarded the NASA’s Trailblazer Award in 2016. He also ran an internal engagement campaign for 10,000 employees and contractors that was centered around the book and feature film “The Martian” and included stage presentations, written products, and unique experiences like an employee screening. For the past 2 years, Gary has been a part of the external communication team at NASA where his primary newsroom beats are overseeing the public messaging for the International Space Station (ISS) Program, an orbiting space laboratory that is nearing 20 years of continuous human presence; and the Commercial Crew Program, a program that is working closely with SpaceX and Boeing to launch humans from American soil.

Recent short film productions include: “Everything About Living in Space” and “How to Prepare (Thanksgiving) Food in Space.


Chris Lipp


Chris Lipp lectures at Rice University, focusing on communication for engineers and scientists. He previously supported scientists at Stanford University helping them promote their research and win grants as well as managerial jobs in Silicon Valley. Chris has a background in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley.


Joan Meiners

Joan Meiners received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida in 2019 and immediately transitioned to a role as an investigative environmental journalist in New Orleans for ProPublica's Local Reporting Network. During grad school, she juggled research on native bee biodiversity patterns with freelance projects for Smithsonian Magazine, Discover Magazine, New Scientist Magazine, and the Florida NPR chapter, WUFT. Learn more at and stay in touch on Twitter @beecycles.



Alberto I. Roca, Ph.D. Executive Director, Diverse Scholar. Dr. Roca received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. While conducting postdoctoral research, he created the web portal, founded the Postdoc Committee of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and co-founded the Diversity Committee of the National Postdoctoral Association. As Editor, Dr. Roca solicits original articles for his DiverseScholar magazine on the issues of diversity, STEM, and higher education. From 2011 to 2014, Dr. Roca (@MinorityPostdoc) and Dr Danielle Lee (@DNLee5) led the diversity sessions at the ScienceOnline conference. In the journalism sector, Dr. Roca's activities encourage minority reporters to learn about STEM/health news stories as well as educate minority scientists about science communication skills/careers. In particular, his non-profit offers a SciComm Diversity Fellowship that awards travel funds to attend science journalism conferences. His expertise in this area led to the chapter on "Using Social Media to Diversify Science" for the book Science Blogging: The Essential Guide.


Scott Solomon

Scott Solomon is a biologist, professor, and science communicator. He teaches ecology, evolutionary biology, and scientific communication as an Associate Teaching Professor at Rice University in Houston. He has a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Texas at Austin where his research examined the evolutionary basis of biological diversity in the Amazon Basin. He has taught field biology at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado and developed a complete digital lecture series on the modern science of evolution with The Great Courses. Before coming to Rice, he worked as a visiting researcher with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and São Paulo State University in Rio Claro, Brazil. His current research examines the interactions between native and non-native ants, the impacts of extreme flooding on ant communities, ant foraging behavior, and the co-evolution between ants and microbes. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Tropical Ecology. Dr. Solomon often speaks and writes about science at schools, museums, churches, science cafés, TEDx events and other venues and has appeared on radio broadcasts on NPR and the BBC World Service and television series such as NASA’s Unexplained Files and Life 2.0. His writing and photography have appeared in publications such as NBC News, Slate, Aeon, Nautilus, and Wired and his first book, Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution was published by Yale University Press and was included on the 2017 Best Book List by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Scott Weldon


Scott Weldon is an award-winning Certified Professional Medical Illustrator with over 18 years at Baylor College of Medicine in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He served originally as the Supervisor of Medical Illustration, and his current role is the Principal of Creative Design and Illustration. Beyond his specialty in cardiothoracic surgical illustration, he works with a diverse medical and scientific freelance clientele utilizing a variety of media. His primarily academic-based practice has led to co-authoring 15 journal articles/videos, contributing graphics and illustrations to a diverse set of projects (nearly 200 journal articles, more than 20 chapters, over 500 presentations, numerous scientific posters, grant applications, and abstracts), as well as completely illustrating 2 surgical textbooks. He is also actively involved with the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI), volunteering in several capacities, including on the Executive Committee and Board of Governors as Treasurer of the Association. Scott received his BFA in Graphic Design from Lamar University and his MA in Biomedical Communications from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.