Invited Speakers


Regina Nuzzo

Statistics journalist Regina Nuzzo will serve as keynote speaker, delivering her talk Thursday evening in the Fralin Auditorium. Please join us that evening in the Fralin Atrium for an open-to-the public reception followed by Nuzzo’s talk.

Nuzzo is senior advisor for statistics communication and media innovation for the American Statistical Association. She has worked for the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy and has published in NatureScientific AmericanScience NewsThe New York Times, and many other venues. Nuzzo holds a PhD in statistics from Stanford University, and her science journalism focuses on data, statistics, probability, and the research process. She has a particular passion for trying to make abstract ideas relevant and fun for non-specialists. She once appeared on live national television talking about red monkey butts and dating. More recently she teamed up with an award-winning science artist to create a comic featuring a CSI detective and statistical superheroes.



Morning Sessions

Disseminating Your Research through Social Media and Beyond

Susan Balding

Susan Balding (they/them), Media Relations Director at Child Trends

     I am a fiction writer and communications professional focused on translating research into relevant, easy-to-understand materials for use by the public, policymakers, media, and more.

Ubadah Sabbagh

Ubadah Sabbagh (he/him), PhD Candidate in Treanslational Biology, Medicine, and Health at Virginia Tech


     My journey in science began when I transferred from community college to the University of Missouri, where I earned my degree in computational biology. Currently, I'm a PhD candidate at Virginia Tech studying the development of brain circuits. I use jumping viruses and glowing probes to map connections between the retina and the brain. Outside of the lab, I've been involved in multiple efforts to bring science to the general public and to lawmakers, including publishing Op-Eds, hosting science talks in coffee shops, and meeting with policy makers on Capitol Hill about the state of biomedical research in the U.S.

Kelly Scarff, PhD Candidate in Rhetoric and Writing

Nicholas Caruso, Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation 

Inclusive STEAM Communication

Christa Miller, Director of Inclusive Media Services at Virginia Tech

Your Research in a Nutshell

Maddy Grupper, Graduate Student in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Grace Davis

Grace Davis (she/her), Graduate Student in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise

     I am a Master's student at Virginia Tech. I have a passion for communication and disseminating research to the public! My research involves investigating the movement of ovarian cancer cells in the body. I look into different factors that contribute to the metastasis, or movement, of cancer cells such as oxygen levels and nutrient availability.


Afternoon Sessions

Communicating Science Through the Arts

Steven Licardi

Steven T. Licardi (he/him), Intensive In-Home Therapist for New River Valley Community Services


     Steven T. Licardi is a social worker, spoken word poet, actor, and performance activist working at the intersections of art and social policy. He travels domestically and internationally using the power of spoken word to create empathic dialogue around, to confront the realities of, and to assist communities in dismantling the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness. As a child, Steven was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, an experience that has deeply informed his professional work. Since 2016, his ever-evolving performance series "Coup de Mot" has been confronting how mental illnesses manifest out of oppressive social pathologies, with versions appearing in Vigo, Spain in 2016, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 2018, and most recently in Thessoliniki, Greece in 2019. The series explores the history mental health treatment in the United States purposefully or apathetically obscured from clinical education programs, incorporating poems appearing in his second collection of poetry ‘a billion burning dreams’ (STL, 2018), which traces his own journey from mental health patient to mental health professional.

George Hardebeck

George Hardebeck (he/him/they), Owner of 

     George Hardebeck received his MFA in Creative Technologies in 2018 and now works for VT’s Creativity + Innovation District and as a freelancer designer. His freelance career revolves around using physical computing, projection mapping, traditional and XR cinema, and animation to tell stories and build narratives. Over several years of work, he has cut out a niche using these techniques to communicate science to audiences. These projects include filming a VR documentary on the excavation of a Phytosaur in the backcountry of Wyoming to interactive digital dioramas for the Natural History Museum of Utah’s Nature All Around Us.

Alex Freeze

Alex Freeze (she/her), Science Communicator and Assistant Researcher for Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine 


     Alex is a trained wildlife biologist who fell in love with communicating science in college. While on a tropical ecology-based study abroad trip to Nicaragua, new camera in hand, she discovered the power of visual storytelling in bridging the gap between conservation science and the public. Alex earned her M.S. in Environmental Education, during which time she honed her photography skills as a field assistant to a National Geographic Explorer, whose work promotes conservation of wildlife, land, water in Florida. Alex currently works as an adjunct professor of environmental biology at Radford University and an assistant researcher/science communicator at the Center for Animal Human Relationships (CENTAUR) at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

Communicating Science Through Policy and Advocacy: A Panel Discussion

ConSandra McNeil

Consandra McNeal (she/her), Science and Technology Policy Fellow

     Dr. ConSandra McNeil is currently an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), Office of the Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology at Jackson State University. At NSF, Dr. McNeil assists with coordinating and co-leading efforts to ensure the agency is in compliance with the laws and regulations that govern federal-sector EEO and civil rights in the grantee community by working across divisions at NSF. She also co-led efforts in evaluating the recent issued important notice and federal register notice regarding harassment; establishing compelling goals and objectives to broadening participation in science. At Jackson State University, Dr. McNeil served as Acting Department Chair, Director of Graduate and Undergraduate Sociology programs, Co-Principal Investigator and Senior Personnel of STEM projects, led a culture climate study to advance women in STEM and SBE, co-authored a book anthology on Black and Latino Families in America,published in academic refereed journals, served as federal proposal reviewer, journal and book reviewer and presented research at national and international conferences. She was highly sought out for her leadership in the Faculty Senate in resolving faculty issues that required judgment and sound knowledge of university policies, procedures, and processes.

Brian Langloss

Brian Langloss (he/him), Lead Policy Analyst for

     Brian Langloss is a Lead Policy Analyst for He oversees the development and publication of SciPol content related to the Health and Data Security topics. In addition to SciPol, Brian also serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee, a City Council Appointed body that provides oversight for Durham’s Federally funded low-income housing programs. A chemist by training, Brian received his PhD in Chemistry from Duke in 2018, where his research was focused on the practical application of nanomaterials to biological imaging and radiation detection. Prior to graduate school, Brian completed his BS in Chemistry at the University of California, Riverside, and worked as an R&D chemist in industry.


Todd Schenk, Assistant Professor

Dr. Todd Schenk is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Affairs and Planning Program of the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. He has extensive research and consulting experience working on environmental policy and planning. 

Taylor Scott

Taylor Scott (she/her), Associate Director of the Research to Policy Collaboration team

     Taylor Bishop Scott is a Research Assistant Professor in the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, with a doctorate in community psychology from the Health Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research explores ways to support policymakers’ use of research evidence. Taylor has worked to develop and evaluate the Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC), a replicable model that aims to support policymakers’ use of research by preparing and mobilizing researchers’ response to current policy priorities and opportunities. She is also a co-investigator of its evaluation and mentors postdocs and voluntary research fellows.

Beth Long (she/her), Co-director of communications for the National Prevention Science Coalition


     The Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) is a model for bridging research and policy that emphasizes building partnerships between research experts and legislative staff. As a postdoctoral fellow with the RPC, I am responsible for the quantitative evaluation of the RPC's impact. This work involves coordinating online data collection from researchers to assess their capacity for engaging in public policy processes, administering corresponding surveys to legislative staff to assess their reported behaviors and attitudes regarding the use of research; and data management and analysis. I have also been involved in writing several policy briefs and op-eds and testing best practices for their dissemination.

Write-a-Thon: Finding the Story in Your Science

Katie Burke

Katie Burke (she/her), Digital Editor of American Scientist


     Katie Burke is an award-winning feature editor and science writer with a PhD in biology, focused on conservation biology, forest history, and disease ecology. She is passionate about effective science communication and inspiring authors to find their creative spark.