Raven Baxter, also known as Raven the Science Maven, is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed science communicator and molecular biologist who works to progress the state of science education and culture by creating spaces that are inclusive, educational, and real.
Raven is an entertainer and content creator known for her unique style of combining science and music that teaches and empowers those in STEM and beyond. Raven speaks about innovation in science education and social change in STEM.
Raven is the founder of Science Haven, a non-profit organization that operates at the intersections of science, education, and the public. Science Haven houses STEMbassy, a live web series that connects the public with science and technology professionals, and Black In Science Communication, a group that works to build relationships in the science community, equipping others with the knowledge and resources necessary to share science with the world in their own flavor.
Raven has quickly developed a reputation as a strong voice in science education and has been recognized as a global influencer in several publications, including Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list for 2020.
Day 1 Opener: SciComm Bootcamp
Ariana Eily, Ph.D.
Ariana Eily grew up in central Florida surrounded by orange groves, woods, and cow pastures. She earned her bachelor's degree from Rollins College in biology, researching how carnivorous plants eat. She followed her love of teaching to Duke, where she completed a PhD in biology, studying how the small aquatic fern Azolla communicates with its microbial partner. Always a fan of different disciplines, she fused her science with work in communication, outreach, diversity and inclusion to help science become more deeply connected to society. She continues to study science, humanities, and arts collaborations, including launching a science-art exhibit, the Art of a Scientist. Now, she is a member of the biology faculty at the North Carolina School of Science & Math, where she brings these ideas into the classroom.
Day 1 Activity: Storytelling for Science
Véronique Koch is a Senior Science Producer at Duke University, where she produces videos about the research and scientists at Duke. She started out as a marine biologist, working as a grouper specialist and counting reef fish underwater in the Florida Keys. After a series of internships with television networks during graduate school, she became a television producer and she has produced Emmy award-winning science documentary shows. She has produced content for the Discovery Channel Latin America, South Florida PBS and the Sesame Workshop (Plaza Sesamo), as well as the Frost Science Museum. She also mentored high school students to produce a full-length film about climate gentrification in Miami. She loves science communication and frequently gives presentations about storytelling.
Day 1 Panel: Science Policy
Awendala Grantham, Faculty at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Author, Researcher
Dr. Awendela Grantham holds a Ph.D., M.Phil, and M.A. in French and African American Studies from Yale University. There, she also earned her bachelor’s in International Studies and French. She teaches African American History at North Carolina A&T State University. Her research focuses on how social identities are developed in the context of religious and political movements and on how we can use that information for public policy. Dr. Grantham has lectured about racial formations in local religious and community forums, including the Institute for Contemporary Art and the Black Student Union at VCU. She has won multiple grants for her work including the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship. Her recent publications are Messianism in French Caribbean Literature (2012), The Africana Experience: We’ve Come This Far (2016), and TROPES: Church Politics and Its Impact on The Black Female Identity (2019).
Andrew Pericak serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Duke University’s SciPol.org, responsible for general management of the SciPol.org website and overseeing the work of the students and staff involved with the project. He received the Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2016, at which he specialized in Environmental Economics and Policy. Before that, he received the Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond. Andrew also has extensive experience with geographic information systems (GIS) and has produced open spatial data currently used in academic research and public advocacy.
David Kaiser is the Deputy Director for the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology & Innovation, which is staffed by the Office of Science, Technology & Innovation in the North Carolina Department of Commerce. In this role, Kaiser manages research projects, policy analysis, and programmatic functions, writes reports, articles, and issues press releases on innovation opportunities and activities across the state, and collaborates and fosters partnerships in support of North Carolina’s efforts in the recruitment and retention of high-growth, innovative companies statewide. Kaiser also directs conferences, workshops, and task force meetings organized by the Office. He is also responsible for the management of the social media campaign for the Board of Science, Technology, & Innovation.
Day 2 Activity: Visual Communication
Jo Klein (they/them) is the Geospatial and Data Visualization Librarian at UNC Greensboro (UNCG), where they provide support and resources for students, faculty, and staff working with data viz. and geographic information systems (GIS). They also serve as the library liaison to the Geography, Environment, and Sustainability Department and provide instruction on research methods and information literacy, among other services. They obtained an MLIS at UNCG and a BS in Biology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Before working at UNCG, Jo worked as a contractor for the US EPA, where they produced and analyzed GIS data and antibody assay results to help investigate the effects of green space on human health.
Adrian Smith is the Head of the Evolutionary Biology & Behavior Research Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and also a Research Assistant Professor of Biology at NC State. His research centers on studies of ant chemical communication and insect behavioral ecology. His work has yielded the discovery and description of new chemical compounds, the fastest animal movements ever documented, and more curious observations such as the function of grappling-hook hairs on the back of ant babies. He also is also a science video producer and insect videographer, publishing content across social media platforms. In 2019, his videos were viewed over 14 million times.
Fedor Kossakovski is a producer at Miles O’Brien Productions and a freelance science writer based in Carrboro, NC. His video work has appeared on PBS NewsHour, PBS NOVA, and New Mexico PBS; his written work has appeared in The Henry Ford Magazine, ACS ChemMatters, and on the PBS NewsHour website. Fedor studied chemistry and creative writing at UNC and Duke University as part of the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program.
Day 2 Panel: SciComm Careers
David M. Berube, Prof. of Science Technology & Communication, NC State University
David M. Berube is a Research Professor at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in science and technology communication. He teaches graduate seminars in risk, fear, disaster, and climate change science communication. He co-ordinates a project at NCSU on Public Communication of Science and Technology committed to quantitative work in the social science of science. He has received over $10 million in grants over the decade and a half to study risk and nanoscience. He wrote Nano-Hype: The Truth behind the Nanotechnology Buzz (Prometheus Books, 2006) recently translated into Japanese. He has a series of articles and chapters on applied nanoscience, risk, and public communication and has spoken at dozens of conferences in the USA and Europe on risk communication and nanotechnology. He was a former intercollegiate debate coach but transitioned into science communication nearly two decades ago. He is the social science director of the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network involving Duke and UNC Chapel Hill. He authored a National Nanotechnology Coordination Office White Paper on risk communication and the International Food Information Council primer on social media and food.
Alyssa LaFaro, Content Manager, Endeavors, UNC Chapel Hill
On any given day, Alyssa LaFaro can be found photographing the effects of climate change, inquiring about the formation of our universe, or writing furiously in her office. As the editor of Endeavors — UNC’s digital research magazine — she’s produced upwards of 60 multimedia stories on multiple topics including genetics, art history, nuclear physics, business, and health humanities. When she’s not behind a camera or a computer, she’s meeting with communicators, students, and faculty from across campus to learn about new research projects and unlock opportunities for collaboration.
Jonathan Frederick, Director, North Carolina Science Festival
Jonathan began his career in Tampa, Fla., as an educator at a major aquarium. In 2001, he moved to North Carolina to develop the first residential environmental education program in N.C. State Parks history. Most recently, he served as science programs manager for Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. Since 2015, in addition to directing one of the largest public celebrations of STEM in the world, Jonathan has led IMPACTS, a statewide scicomm training program focused on diversity and inclusion for both scientists and their audiences.
Robin Smith, Senior Science Writer, Duke University
Robin Smith earned a Ph.D. in biology in 2005, then spent the next few years freelancing and teaching writing before joining the news office at Duke University, where she now (bravely, foolishly, happily) covers subjects she never studied in grad school. She has written for the Raleigh News and Observer, the Charlotte Observer, and the blog column of Scientific American. When she’s not at her desk, Robin spends her time exploring art and the outdoors with her husband and two children, and waxing nostalgic about sleep. For more, visit robinannsmith.com.