Invited Experts

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Cedric DarkCedric Dark, MD, MPH, FACEP is Founder and Executive Editor of Policy Prescriptions®. A graduate of Morehouse College, Dr. Dark earned his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He holds a master’s degree from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He completed his residency training at George Washington University where he served as Chief Resident. Currently, Dr. Dark is an Assistant Professor in the Henry J. N. Taub Department of Emergency Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Dark is the 2017 recipient of the Texas Medical Association’s C. Frank Webber Award, a 2019 American College of Emergency Physicians Choosing Wisely Champion, one of emergency medicine’s Top 45 Under 45, and on Elemental’s List of 50 Experts to Trust in a Pandemic.  He currently participates on the editorial advisory board for the monthly publication ACEP Now and is on the Board of Directors for Doctors for America.

Dr. Dark’s policy experience includes work for the United States House of Representatives, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Joe Biden Campaign. Among his policy interests include the study of health reform at the intersection with international health systems on which he has spoken on this topic nationwide.

Dr. Dark’s media experience includes print, radio, and television – including outlets such as the Washington PostNPRCNNMSNBCFox News, and BBC World News.

Dr. Dark’s personal mission is PolicyRx’s vision: that all Americans possess health security through a universal health care system focused on continuity, affordability, and access to quality health care.


Expert Panelists and Workshop Leaders

Kiah CollierKiah Collier is an investigative reporter for the ProPublica-Texas Tribune Investigative Initiative. She previously worked at the Tribune as a reporter and associate editor since 2015, covering energy and environment through the lens of state government and politics. She was a reporter on “Hell and High Water,” a Peabody Award–winning collaboration between ProPublica and the Tribune that explored the vulnerability of the Houston area to a large, devastating hurricane. In addition to the Peabody Award, she has been honored with the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism, the National Edward R. Murrow Award for best investigation, and the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award.



Lynn ZechiedrichLynn Zechiedrich, PhD, is the Kyle and Josephine Morrow Chair and Professor in Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine. Based on her foundational research discoveries on DNA structure and function, she also founded Twister Biotech, Inc., a therapeutic gene therapy company. An award winning scientist, mentor, and educator, she co-directs the Quantitative and Computational Bioscience Graduate Program at Baylor College of Medicine and co-directs the NIH T-32-funded Texas Medical Center fellowship training program in Antimicrobial Resistance. Passionate about communicating to the taxpayers what scientists do with the funding they support, Dr. Zechiedrich started tweeting (@LynnZechiedrich) in early 2018. A founding Ambassador for Inclusion and Diversity at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Zechiedrich tweets about science, graduate student training, diversity and inclusive excellence, photography, her orchestra (@TMCOrchestra), great science writers, and sometimes sports.



Viviane Callier

Dr. Viviane Callier is a science journalist and writer based in San Antonio, Texas. Her work has appeared in QuantaScientific American, The Scientist, and other publications. She also writes for the National Institutes of Health and scientific non-profits. She was a Churchill Scholar at the University of Cambridge and holds a PhD in biological sciences from Duke University.






Joe PalcaDr. Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Before becoming a journalist, he earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz where he worked on human sleep physiology. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a broad range of science topics. His series, “Joe’s Big Idea,” explores the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. He co-founded the NPR Scicommers program, a collective of science communicators. Palca has also worked as a television producer, and a news writer for the journals, Science and NaturePalca has won numerous awards, several of which came with attractive certificates.




Audrey HuangAudrey Huang, M.A., Ph.D., a molecular geneticist by training, has spent the last sixteen years trying to get more biomedical science covered in mainstream media outlets. She currently is interim Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas where she leads a crack team of marketing and communications professionals to advance the reputation of UT Southwestern. Prior to moving to the Lone Star State, Audrey led efforts in marketing research and education and in media relations at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Charm City, otherwise known as Baltimore, Maryland. Audrey’s passion for science communications comes from her previous career as a bench scientist; she earned a Ph.D. in genetics and a B.A. in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.




Daisy ChungDaisy Chung is an award-winning science visual communicator and illustrator originally from Taiwan and New Zealand. She currently works as the Science Data Visual Designer at Surgo Venture creating data-driven visual stories to share important research findings addressing global health and social issues. Previously, she was the Creative Director at wikiHow and a freelance science visualization artist creating infographic designs to communicate complex science. She is a former graphics editor at National Geographic Magazine, where she worked with a collaborative team to engage the public through powerful visual storytelling. Daisy aims to make science more accessible and works directly with experts to communicate their research to a broader audience. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, National Geographic, Cell Press, The Journal of Neuroscience, and various science and educational platforms. When not drawing, you can find Daisy hiking, climbing rocks, and finding different uses for sourdough starters.


Dr. Barbara GastelBarbara Gastel, MD, MPH, coordinates the graduate program in science and technology journalism at Texas A&M University, where she is a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and the College of Medicine. She also teaches an editing course in the University of Chicago medical writing and editing certificate program, and she has been editor of the Council of Science Editors periodical, Science Editor. She also is first author of the current (8th) edition of the book How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. She is a AAAS fellow and has received awards and recognitions from the American Medical Writers Association and the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences.




Anna KiapesAnna Kiappes currently works at Baylor College of Medicine as the College’s Social Media Manager. She creates and manages the College’s social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Before coming to Baylor in 2017, she worked in the social media industry since graduating from Southern Methodist University in 2012. When she’s not tweeting, you can find her baking, playing with her dog, Lupo, or reading a good mystery novel.





Roxanne BoguckaRoxanne Bogucka is STEM Liaison Librarian for Health Sciences at the UT Life Science Library, primarily supporting the School of Nursing, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Public Health, Pharmacy, and Biomedical Engineering. As the convener of the UT Science Communication Interest Group, she is active in science communication and public engagement efforts at UT and produces the outreach programs Research Speed-Dating and Research+Pizza. She is an ALLY (Gender & Sexuality Center) and a disABILITY Advocate (Services for Students with Disabilities). Roxanne has a B.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University and an M.L.I.S. in Library & Information Science from UT Austin.




Dr. Sarah McAnultyDr. Sarah McAnulty is a squid biologist and science communicator. She is the founder and executive director of Skype a Scientist, a non-profit organization that connects scientists to teachers and families around the world. She earned a bachelor's degree in marine science at Boston University in 2011 and her PhD from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut, graduating in 2019. She studied immunology in cephalopods, focusing on Hawaiian bobtail squid.




Greg MillettGregorio (Greg) Millett is a Vice President at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Director of amfAR’s D.C.-based Public Policy Office.  From 2000 through 2009, Mr. Millett served as a CDC Senior Scientist in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP), and subsequently as a Senior Policy Advisor in President Obama’s White House Office of National AIDS Policy from 2009 through 2013 where he helped author and implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Mr. Millett’s epidemiological studies of HIV disparities by race and/ or sexuality have been cited by over 8000 scientific journals, and his research has appeared in top-tier scientific journals such as The Lancet, JAMA, AIDS, AJPH, Health Affairs and others. Mr. Millett published five analyses of COVID-19 inequities by race/ethnicity over the course of 2020, including the first study that quantified the impact of COVID-19 in black communities nationally. Subsequently, he was invited twice by the National Academy of Sciences to speak about HIV and COVID-19 inequities, invited to address a Smithsonian Museum event re: the similarities of HIV  COVID-19, and asked to participate as a scientific advisor for the COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Network.   Mr. Millett’s amfAR team created a COVID-19 dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases and diagnosis by race across US counties ( ). The dashboard was cited by the Poynter Institute as one of the top five online COVID-19 race/ethnicity data sources for journalists; and both the dashboard and amfAR’s published COVID-19 analyses have been highlighted by members of Congress, included in Capitol Hill hearings, and featured on CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, Politico, USA Today, ABC News and other news outlets


rocaAlberto 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.




Dr. Jerrod A HendersonDr. Jerrod A. Henderson (”Dr. J”) is an Instructional Associate Professor in the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston (UH).

Dr. Henderson has dedicated his career to increasing the number of students who are in the pipeline to pursue STEM careers. He believes that exposing students to STEM early will have a lasting impact upon their lives and academic pursuits. He along with Rick Greer are the co-founder of the St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy (SEBA). SEBA is a NSF, personal, and industry funded educational intervention aimed at exposing underrepresented fourth and fifth grade boys and their fathers, male caregivers and/or mentors to hands-on, inquiry based STEM experiences. During fall 2020, during the global pandemic, SEBA was expanded to include underrepresented girls.  

In addition to being a faculty member in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department at UH, Henderson is the Director of the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES) a program aimed at increasing engineering student achievement, engagement, and graduation rates. His research interests are in engineering student success among underrepresented students, especially African American males. He was most recently recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine as an Inspiring STEM Leader, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Outstanding Young Alumni Award, and Career Communications Group with a Black Engineer of the Year Award for college level promotion of engineering education.