Invited Speakers

Keynote Address

Stephanie Fine Sasse - Stephanie Fine Sasse is CEO, Co-Founder & Creative Director of The People’s Science, a non-profit organization committed to engaging lifelong learners, promoting accessible evidence, and cultivating an informed citizenry. Previously, she developed educational technology and public exhibits for Oregon Health & Science University and completed post-bac research training at Harvard University from 2012-2017. She has co-authored over a dozen academic presentations and articles in developmental psychology, affective neuroscience, and science communication. In 2016, she served as the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Learning & the Brain blog. Stephanie has an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), where she was selected as the 2013 Leadership in Education Award recipient. In 2015, she received a Spark Grant Award from Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching for her work developing scientific literacy skills in undergraduate students. Through The People’s Science, Stephanie has worked to bridge the gap between science and society through curriculum, multimedia campaigns, web platforms, and immersive art and science exhibitions. 


Navigating Controversial Subjects

Dona Mapston - Dona Mapston is the Director of the Salk Education Outreach programs. She earned her B.S. in biology from UCSD cum laude in 1996 and received a life and physical science teaching credential from San Diego State University in 1997. Dona taught regular and advanced placement biology at Monte Vista High School in Spring Valley for seven years. She has been recognized by the National Biotechnology Teacher-Leader Program and the UCSD Outstanding Teacher Recognition Program and she was the Graduate Women in Science Teacher of the Year in 2000. Dona joined Salk as the lead instructor for the Salk Mobile Science Lab in August 2005. Since taking over its operation, she significantly invigorated the curriculum, expanded the MSL’s outreach efforts by more than 20 percent and created teacher training and kit-based activities to assist middle school teachers in presenting biotechnology activities and concepts in their classrooms. As the current director, she oversees development and implementation of all Salk Education Outreach programs. She has extensive experience in curriculum development and in teacher peer mentoring and teacher training for biotechnology-focused lessons. Working closely with scientists through Salk's education programs, she has developed a thorough understanding of the communication challenges in relating scientists' real-world research to students' varying backgrounds and comprehension abilities.

Sherry NourainiDr. Sherry Nouraini is the Social Media Marketing Instructor for UC San Diego Extension and the founder of Captive Touch, a consulting resource for organizations and individuals to develop successful social media strategies. She is also a lecturer on the topic of Social Media for Climate Science and Policy at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a biology instructor at San Diego City College. Sherry recently published a new book titled "Social Solutions for Climate Change: How to inspire action through social media," which has been recognized as a finalist for the San Diego Book Awards. Follow Sherry on Twitter @snouraini. 


Leanne Chukoskie - Dr. Leanne Chukoskie is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Institute for Neural Computation at UC San Diego and self-proclaimed lover of clear communication of science. Leanne studies eye and body movement and the neural mechanisms that underlie those movements in children and adults with autism and typical development. She is also interested in developing movement-based interventions for individuals with ASD and for improved educational outcomes for all. Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneChukoskie.


Raquel Nuno - Raquel Nuno is a planetary scientist currently pursuing a PhD at UCLA. She is also an Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science trained science communicator who has taught/facilitated/organized several SciComm classes at UCLA. Some of those classes include co-organizing an 8-week SciComm workshop offered to graduate students and post-docs, and teaching Improvisation methods to Teaching Assistants (TA), where acting techniques are used to get TA’s more comfortable communicating with their students. She also films episodes for the Veritasium YouTube channel, a science channel with over 4 million subscribers. When she’s not researching or filming, she can be found exploring the mountains with her husband and son.


Inclusivity in Science

Daniel Aguirre - Daniel has been engaging diverse audiences in meaningful informal educational opportunities for close to a decade. In 2011 he co-founded the San Ysidro Education Committee where they focus on improving high school completion and spotlighting various career pathways. Currently he manages 52 Weeks of Science serving the Barrio Logan, Logan Heights and Clairemont Mesa communities. Daniel brings together local STEM organizations, non-profits, local businesses, host sites and community members; encouraging inclusivity and diversity across all STEM principles.

Elizabeth Jacobs- Motivated chemist and science advocate pursuing opportunities to create better lives and support scientific advancement. Specifically interested applying a strong research and volunteer background towards science communication, education, outreach and policy. She plays various roles in AWIS (Association of Women In Science) San Diego as the co-chair of the Public Relations committee since 2016 and a member of the Outreach committee since 2015.

Keith Trujillo - Dr. Keith Trujillo is Professor and Director of the Office for Training, Research and Education in the Sciences (OTRES) at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). He is Director of programs aimed at increasing diversity in the sciences, including MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) and RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) programs at CSUSM, both funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. He is also Co-Director of an LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) project at CSUSM, funded by the National Science Foundation and the California State University System. He is also member of the National Advisory Board for BRAINS, a neuroscience program that aims to retain scientists from diverse and underrepresented groups. Dr. Trujillo has received several awards for his research and for his work to increase diversity in the sciences from the National Hispanic Science Network, the Society for Neuroscience, and the California State University System


Communicating your Expertise

Erilynn Heinrichson - Dr. Erilynn Heinrichsen is the TA Professional Development Specialist in the UCSD Teaching & Learning Commons. A proponent of student-centered instruction and effective research-based pedagogical methods, Erilynn supports both new and advanced graduate students in their development as instructors. Previously, Erilynn worked to bridge communication gaps in science, both in the classroom as an instructor at UCSD and San Diego City College, and in the community as City Coordinator for the Pint of Science/Taste of Science-San Diego Festival.

Tim Brady - Dr. Tim Brady heads the Vision and Memory Lab in the psychology department at UCSD. His work draws on a variety of methods, including behavioral experiments in the lab and on the internet, computational models, and EEG and other neuroimaging methods. He has also taught courses about the mind and brain for middle and high school students and has mentored many undergraduate and graduate students in psychology.

Sherice Clarke - Dr. Sherice Clarke is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Studies at UCSD. Her research focuses on studying teaching and learning through classroom dialogue in order to develop solutions that promote educational equity for learners of the greatest need.


Breakout Session Leaders


Alie & Micah Caldwell (Video Creation) - Alison Caldwell is a graduate student of Neurosciences at UC San Diego, working with Dr. Nicola Allen to study how a particular brain cell, called the astrocyte, affects the way neurons grow, connect, and communicate. Micah Caldwell has an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and currently provides therapy to unaccompanied children and adolescents seeking asylum in the United States. They are the co-creators, writers and hosts of Neuro Transmissions, a YouTube channel dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of the brain. Their work on Neuro Transmissions has been recognized with numerous awards, including Grand Prize in the 2016 Khan Academy Talent Search and second place in the Society for Neuroscience's Brain Awareness Week Contest in 2014. With their expertise in neuroscience and psychology, they seek to show the human side of science while breaking down difficult concepts with clear, concise explanations and engaging animations.

Milena Gavala (Visual Science) - Milena Gavala is a visual science communicator. A scientist by training but a creative by nature, Milena works with science organizations to translate complex & technical concepts into accessible and memorable visuals that create "aha" moments for non-scientific audiences. Her minimalist style and concise visual story-telling work together to keep the science in focus but the audience engaged. She also teaches workshops that help scientists organize, summarize, and visualize their own work in elegant and fun (but still scientifically accurate!) graphics. You can see Milena's work online at

Margot Wohl (Podcast Production) - Margot is the producer of an new KPBS podcast called "Rad Scientist" that profiles local scientists that will air in mid September. Before "Rad Scientist", Margot produced a similar podcast for the Salk Institute named "Salk Talk." She is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at UC San Diego in a laboratory at the Salk Institute. Her research centers on how brain cells and the molecules they exchange give rise to aggressive behaviors in fruit flies. You can sometimes find her late at night in her laboratory looking at insects she finds and taking pictures with her iphone [#insectagram].

Tiffany Fox (Media Relations)Tiffany Fox is a Public Information Representative for the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego, as well as an award-winning public speaker. She helps researchers tell their research stories and has offered research communications training to hundreds of undergraduates and grad students at UC San Diego, across a wide range of disciplines. She also writes a weekly newsletter on research communications, Research Refined. Prior to coming to UC San Diego, Tiffany was a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune for 10 years. She is a freelance journalist and has written about a multitude of topics spanning science, engineering, technology and the arts. She has also traveled to five continents, is a certified yoga teacher, served in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and is a mother of two.

Jorgina Hall (Education & Outreach) Jorgina Hall is an A.P. Biology and Accelerated Biology teacher at Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista, CA.  She has 16 years of experience in education, teaching high school and middle school science in Chula Vista and Vista, CA.   She holds a Bachelor’s degree in General Biology and a Master of Education degree from the University of California, San Diego.  She currently serves as the Science Department Co-chair and an Induction Mentor to a beginning science teacher.  She also co-advises a community service organization called KIWIN’s.  Beyond the classroom, Jorgina enjoys participating in various training and field trip opportunities that expand the knowledge and skills of herself and her students.  When Jorgina is not working, she loves traveling to new places and trying new foods with her husband and 2 children.