Invited Experts

Keynote Address

Maryam Zaringhalam 

Maryam Zaringhalam is a DC-based biologist, science writer, and 2017 AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow. She completed her Ph.D. at Rockefeller University in 2017, studying RNA biology {with computers} in Nina Papavasiliou’s Laboratory of Lymphocyte Biology. During grad school, Maryam became adamant about being a public-facing scientist. She founded ArtLab: a blog and an event series dedicated to exploring science through the lens of art, thereby uniting, or reuniting, two of her most favorite things. She co-founded Science Soapbox: a podcast at the intersection of science, policy, and advocacy. She serves on the leadership of 500 Women Scientists — a grassroots science advocacy organization run by women, for women in STEM. Most recently, she joined The Story Collider team as a producer, bringing true, personal stories about science to live audiences in the D.C. area. When she is not practicing science or advocacy, Maryam can be found designing the web, a skill she picked up and has been honing since the 7th grade, when she designed her first website: For Horse Lovers Only.

Outreach and Extension Panel

Betsy Bihn

Elizabeth A. Bihn is the Director of theProduce Safety Alliance and National GAPs Program, and Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University. She received her B.S. in Zoology from the Ohio State University, M.S. in Horticulture from the University of Florida, and Ph.D. in Food Science from Cornell University. Her research focuses on surface water quality used in the production of fruits and vegetables. Betsy’s extension programs focus onproviding fundamental, science-based, food safety knowledge to farmers, packers, food industry and regulatory personnel, and others interested in food safety.  Her professional career started in plant molecular biology, veered into fisheries, returned to plant molecular biology, only to leave to teach in a horticulture program, and eventually landed in food safety extension and research where she gets to apply a lot of what she has learned. It has been a bit of a wild ride, including time spent in a zoo and a few flights on the vomit comet.

Tisha Bohr

Tisha Bohr was a Santa Barbara City College transfer student completing her B.S. in Biology with a minor in chemistry from California State University Channel Islands. She then went on to earn her PhD in Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz. Tisha is now doing a postdoc at the Cornell Vet School doing in Dr. Carrie Adler’s lab where she is exploring how stem cells sense missing organs to launch their regeneration. Tisha is the Science Communications Chair for Graduate Women in Science Cornell and the founder and organizer for Ithaca’s public science seminar series, “Science on Tap,” which she funds through a Cornell Engaged Grant. She has also been involved in other outreach and campus justice and diversity initiatives both in graduate school and during her postdoc at Cornell. For these efforts she has received the UC Santa Cruz Chancellor's Award for Diversity & Inclusion, the Cornell University Postdoc Leadership Award and the Cook Award for improving the climate for women at Cornell.

Jeanne Garbarino

Jeanne is the Director of RockEDU Science Outreach at The Rockefeller University. With her awesome RockEDU team, she works to promote and support science outreach within the scientific community, open channels for community members to develop an appreciation for science as a human endeavor, and to provide equitable access to scientific resources and opportunities that genuinely reflect the process of science. She is deeply interested in how to build meaningful professional connections within the science outreach and engagement professional space, and to promote the continued professionalization of the science outreach field. Before becoming a practitioner of science outreach, Jeanne kicked off her scientific career as a lipid biochemist, earning her PhD in metabolic biology from Columbia University, then conducting postdoctoral studies on cholesterol transport at Rockefeller. You can find Jeanne on Twitter, Instagram, and in the woods (whenever possible).

Candice Limper

Candice Limper is a first-generation college student who first started higher education at a community college in Ridgecrest, California. After some time, she transferred to California State University, Chico where she obtained her B.S. in Microbiology. She then went to earn her M.S. in Biology from Cal State Los Angeles where she studied the function of a mitochondrial protein in HeLa cells. Candice is now a Biomedical and Biological Sciences Ph.D. program studying Immunology in Dr. Avery August’s lab. Here she is exploring the role of the mitochondrial polymerase in immune cells. In addition to working in the lab, she has independently launched an innovative website called Limper Science. Her website supplies advice through sharing academic stories as well as blog posts. Her efforts with this project have been recognized for having made a significant contribution to the Diversity Programs in Engineering, the college of Engineering, and the lives of others by demonstrating initiative and positively contributing to the college's climate towards diversity at Cornell University.


Podcasts Panel/Workshop

Katie Feather 

Katie Feather is an associate producer for Science Friday. In that role she’s joined paleontologists on the hunt for dinosaur bones in Utah and reported from the red carpet of the American Astronomical Society about the “Oscars” of space telescopes. Although she enjoys producing segments on everything from youth-led climate activism to the science of food spoilage, she has a special talent for making radio entertaining. She once produced a segment pitting bat and dolphin researchers against one another in a “Sonar Smackdown”, and gamified venom research in a live, on-air quiz show called “Venomous, Poisonous, or Both?”

Before joining Science Friday Katie worked as a reporter and producer for public radio stations in Missouri, Philadelphia, and New York. Her work reporting on events in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 won a National Murrow Award for small-market feature reporting. She previously produced two science podcasts, for the health news website STAT and for the longform science journalism website Undark. Katie has a degree in science journalism from NYU, where she now teaches audio production to graduate students. She’s on a lifelong quest to understand the way humans think, and also to find the best eggplant parmesan.

Cynthia Leifer 

Dr. Cynthia Leifer is an Associate Professor of Immunology at Cornell University. The cross-disciplinary research in her lab uses immunologic and bioengineering approaches to investigate regulation of immune recognition of pathogens through innate immune receptors as well as novel types of vaccines that exploit this new information. An author of over 50 scientific articles and book chapters, she is also an advocate for vaccines and immunization policies. She has OpEds featured on CNN, Huffington Post, and Pacific Standard, has been interviewed on air nationally and internationally. She has discussed vaccine policies and other issues with school boards, local and state politicians, and has spoken at community forums about vaccine controversies. She organizes and leads workshops on science communication, and is co-host of the podcast Immune. Immune can be found using any podcasting app and a You can find her at

Aravind Natarajan

Aravind Natarajan has three key identities: 1) a graduate student scientist in the Department of Microbiology working on engineering E. coli to produce therapeutically valuable glycoproteins, 2) a student leader working towards achieving equity in higher education through catalyzing institutional reform and supporting the progress of students from marginalized identities, and 3) a communicator bringing about change through effectively discussing ideas of social and scientific relevance. These interests come together effectively in the form of a podcast that Aravind has founded called Science Blender. This podcast portrays graduating doctoral students, blending stories about their identity and experiences along with their scientific accomplishments. Therefore, Science Blender not only communicates cutting edge science to a broader audience, but also humanizes scientists and presents role models to inspire students, especially those from under-represented identities. This podcast has garnered an audience in 93 countries in its first two years and is still growing. Aravind is currently leading a study in collaboration with community colleges in New York to study the efficacy of this podcast as a tool to inspire and foster a sense of belonging. Science Blender can be found at and on all of your favorite podcast apps.

Mark Savary 

Dr. Mark Sarvary is the Director of the Investigative Biology Teaching Laboratories at Cornell University. He teaches information and science literacy, critical thinking, experimental design and science communication through modules in ecology, genetics and microbiology. As a strong advocate of public engagement, he is a public science advisor of a local Science Café called Science Cabaret, and he is the faculty advisor of the undergraduate medical and life sciences debate club and a new undergraduate podcast called State-of-the-Pod. He supports the claim that science is not finished until it is communicated, and treats science communication as the last, and very important step of the scientific process. He teaches students how to communicate to fellow scientists and how to translate dense scientific information to non-technical audiences. In addition to teaching an Applied Science Communication Course at Cornell University and at the Shoals Marine Laboratory, he is also spearheading a new science communication undergraduate minor at Cornell. He attended the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science boot camp and is a co-producer of a science podcast called Locally Sourced Science. As a Faculty Fellow For Engaged Scholarship at Cornell he conducts research in biology education, science communication and public engagement.

Social Media Panel

Shannon Odell

Shannon Odell is a Brooklyn based writer, comedian, and scientist. She co-hosts and produces Drunk Science, an experimental comedy show deemed “a stroke of genius” by Gothamist and a finalist in TruTV’scomedy break out initiative. She co-created, writes, and stars in the Inverse original series Your Brain on Blank, where she explains the science behind how everything-from alcohol to caffeine to puppies- affects the brain. She can be seen on The Science Channel where she acts as a regular science correspondent for the show, What on Earth!. She performs monthly with her improv group MOOF at the UCB theater. You can find her on twitter and instagram at @shodell, where she hosts weekly scientific AMAs.She can also be seen at Weill Cornell Medicine, where she is a Neuroscience PhD candidate studying epigenetics and memory.

Ana Maria Porras

Ana Maria Porras is a biomedical engineer and Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University. Originally from Colombia, Dr. Porras arrived in the U.S. 13 years ago to pursue her BS in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin followed by a MS/PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellow. At UW, she also completed a Delta Certificate in Teaching and Learning with a particular emphasis on inclusive pedagogy. Her research interests encompass a wide variety of topics including biomaterials, tissue engineering, cardiovascular disease, global health, and the human microbiome. Over time, Ana grew tired of her inability to communicate her research in her native language and started a science communication initiative in both English and Spanish on social media. You can find her as @AnaMaPorras and @anaerobias on Instagram, where every #MicrobeMonday and #MicroMartes, respectively, Ana teaches microbiology using crocheted microbes designed by herself. She takes diversity and inclusion in STEM very seriously and for this reason, Colombian scientists are often profiled on her accounts. She has also been featured in campaigns to increase the representation of women in STEM in both the United States and Colombia. Outside of all that, Ana loves to travel, bake, swim, dance, read, and above all, eat ice cream. 

Caitlin Van Der Weele

Dr. Caitlin Vander Weele is a neuroscientist, author, and science communicator with over 10 years of expertise in understanding how emotions and brain chemistry influence decision-making. Caitlin received her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where her work was published in neuroscience’s top journals— including Nature, Cell, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, and The Journal of Neuroscience. With a goal of connecting to a public audience, Caitlin founded Interstellate, a movement that blends science and art using visual imagery to promote science education. Interstellate (@Interstellate_) is a growing community, with followers and contributors from around the world, and has generated two self-published volumes. Dr. Vander Weele’s (@caitvw) is also a social media expert with her accounts commanding an audience of over 20K science enthusiasts. She is passionate about helping others succeed through networking, personal branding, and savvy self-promotion. Since moving beyond the bench, Caitlin applies her unique skill set at the intersection of science, business, and communications at Russo Partners in New York.

Science Policy

Cynthia Bartel

Cynthia Bartel, PhD, is an Atkinson Center Postdoctoral Fellow with Cornell University's Nutrient Management Spear Program. After finishing her undergraduate education in agronomy, she obtained an agricultural legislative fellowship in the United States Senate, and also worked at the World Bank as an Agricultural and Rural Development Consultant on the first Agriculture Investment Sourcebook. She then served for seven years as the agriculture, nutrition and trade policy advisor to United States Senator Tim Johnson in Washington, DC. A year-long Robert Bosch Foundation fellowship in Germany included placements in both the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in the German Parliament and within the global headquarters of Bayer CropScience. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Crop Production & Physiology and doctoral minor in Statistics from Iowa State University and Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jay Branegan

Jay Branegan has been working with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University since 2012, conducting workshops for scientists on making presentations to Congress and media training. Jay is a graduate of Cornell, where he majored in physics and philosophy and took a seminar with astronomer Carl Sagan. He had a long career in journalism at the Chicago Tribune, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize, and at TIME Magazine, where he was a foreign correspondent and covered Washington and the White House. He has also taught journalism at Georgetown and Northwestern universities. After leaving TIME, Jay worked for 10 years on Capitol Hill as a senior staff member on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and later served as a communications specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He is a Senior Fellow at The Lugar Center in Washington.

Teresa Stoepler

Teresa Stoepler, Ph.D., is executive director of the InterAcademy Partnership for Policy, a network of more than 140 science, engineering and medical academies around the world that provides scientific advice to international organizations and national governments. She is also a senior program officer with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences where she leads the Pakistan-U.S. Science & Technology (S&T) Cooperation Program and contributes to other international scientific capacity-building programs. As a member of the Global Young Academy, Teresa co-leads an initiative to support the reintegration of at-risk and refugee scholars into research environments in their host countries. Previously, she was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow at U.S. Geological Survey where she helped the U.S. government develop a standing capacity to build “crisis science” teams following environmental disasters. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Botany from Humboldt State University and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the George Washington University. Trained as an ecologist, Teresa’s previous research focused on plant-insect interactions, including pollination, parasitism, and disease ecology in both natural and agricultural systems.

Storytelling Panel/Workshop

Charlie Heinke

Charlie Heinke is a third-year biomedical engineering student studying muscle stem cells. In 2018, Charlie became executive producer of Science Blender, a Cornell podcast that blends the personal and scientific journeys of PhD students at Cornell. Charlie has been an active producer of Science Blender since he joined the team in 2017. In Fall 2018, Charlie took the Cornell-offered course "Communication Bootcamp," which teaches students to more effectively write about and present their research.

Kitty Gifford

Kitty Gifford helps clients and students tell their stories. She is a communications consultant here in Ithaca and currently has clients in the life sciences and renewable energy. She is one of the instructors of a new applied science communication course at Cornell and at Shoals Marine Laboratory. In these courses students are introduced to video production, podcasts, Wikipedia editing, public science events, social media platforms, blogging, and science writing. Finally, they learn to combine these efforts to create a science communication strategy to tell their story effectively. She also does program curation for a local science café (since 2005) and co-produces a science podcast called Locally Sourced Science.

Ella Schwartz

Ms. Schwartz is the author of several non fiction books for young readers. Her book, CAN YOU CRACK THE CODE? (Bloomsbury, 2019), is the first book in a nonfiction STEM-based middle grade series. MAKE THIS! (National Geographic Kids, 2019) is a maker book for budding engineers, and STOLEN SCIENCE (Bloomsbury, 2020) exposes the untold stories of scientists almost written out of history. She is also a featured writer for National Geographic kids magazine for their campaign to reduce plastic consumption. In addition to writing books, Ms. Schwartz is a cybersecurity warrior interfacing with the U.S. federal government on strategic technology initiatives. She has a bachelor's and master's degree in engineering from Columbia University. Ms. Schwartz is a founding member of, a website dedicated to children’s literacy. She also volunteers her time to promote science education and empower children, especially young girls, to pursue STEM related studies. To learn more about Ella Schwartz visit her website, Follow her on Twitter @ellaschwartz and Facebook

Jonathan Lambert

Jonathan Lambert is an evolutionary biologist turned science journalist eager to connect people to the stories of science. He is currently an intern at Nature News, and his work has appeared in NPR, Quanta Magazine, Scientific American and Wired. Last summer, he was a AAAS Mass Media Fellow at the Dallas Morning News. Before jumping into science journalism, he was a PhD student in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University studying how new species form in a complex of Hawaiian crickets.


Citizen Science Panel

Lisa Larson

Lisa Larson leads software development for a set of web and mobile app projects that enable people to record their observations of birds and bird behavior. She has been working on digital tools for data entry and visualization since 2000, after graduating from Harvard University with a degree in Slavic Studies and a predilection for web programming. She has built editors and browsers for data types ranging from yeast genes to disease outbreaks to global internet traffic and, at the Cornell Lab, to bird populations and nesting habits. She is interested in how to reach people at the time and place where they interact with the natural world -- and how to keep them engaged with it. 

Peter Leipzig

Peter Leipzig is an Education Program Coordinator at the Sciencenter in Ithaca, NY. He works to develop and deliver informal science programs for the general public. His main focus is leading the Future Science Leaders, a group of middle school students interested in science research and communication. Peter completed his undergraduate degree at Skidmore College, studying Environmental Science and Creative Writing. He then worked for the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Geological Survey, studying aquatic insects and riparian spiders. Peter earned two Master's degrees from Colorado State University, one in Ecology and a second in Science Education. His most recent thesis focused on the effects of storytelling in undergraduate science classrooms.

Lucy Madden

Lucy Madden completed a B.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA) in 2011 and graduated with her Master’s in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) in May 2019. She previously taught 5-7th grade science for 5 years in high-poverty communities in NC and CA. From 2015-17, she spearheaded school-wide implementation of new science standards and served as grade-level lead. Lucy has been on the volunteer leadership team of Letters to a Pre-Scientist (LPS) since 2012. LPS works to demystify STEM careers and empower all students to see themselves as future scientists by facilitating a snail mail pen pal program between middle school students in low-income communities and STEM professionals from around the world. In addition to helping lead the organization, Lucy hosted the pen pal program in her classroom four times. She is now the founding Chief Executive Officer of LPS and is deeply committed to increasing access to high-quality STEM education for all students by creating effective partnerships between K-12 schools and the broader science community and by connecting science content to the real world.