Opening Keynote

Joe Palca 2010Joe Palca

Science Correspondant for NPR

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca began his journalism career in television in 1982, working as a health producer for the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC. In 1986, he left television for a seven-year stint as a print journalist, first as the Washington news editor for Nature, and then as a senior correspondent forScience Magazine.

In October 2009, Palca took a six-month leave from NPR to become science writer in residence at the Huntington Library and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Palca has won numerous awards, including the National Academies Communications Award, the Science-in-Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers, the American Chemical Society James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Prize, and the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Writing. 

With Flora Lichtman, Palca is the co-author of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us (Wiley, 2011). He comes to journalism from a science background, having received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz where he worked on human sleep physiology.

Session 1: Engaging audiences with a scientific story

Scott Huler

Journalist and Author of On the Grid

Scott Huler has written on everything from the death penalty to bikini waxing, from NASCAR racing to the stealth bomber, for such newspapers as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Los Angeles Times and such magazines as Backpacker, Fortune, and ESPN. His award-winning radio work has been heard on "All Things Considered" and "Day to Day" on National Public Radio and on "Marketplace" and "Splendid Table" on American Public Media. He has been a staff writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Raleigh News & Observer and a staff reporter and producer for Nashville Public Radio. He has taught at such colleges as Berry College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and sometimes serves as guest host on "The State of Things" on WUNC-FM.

On the Grid was his sixth book; his work has also been included in such compilations as Appalachian Adventure and in such anthologies as Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont, The Appalachian Trail Reader and Speed: Stories of Survival from Behind the Wheel. He was a 2002-3 Knight-Wallace Fellow at Michigan and was the 2011 Piedmont Laureate.

For 2014-15 Scott is Knight Science Journalism Project Fellow at MIT. His project, retracing the journey of John Lawson in 1700-1701, lives at www.lawsontrek.com  He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife, the writer June Spence, and their two sons.

Abby Olena 

olena.pngDuke Science & Society post-doc and former AAAS Mass Media Fellow

Abby Olena is a postdoctoral fellow in Science & Society at Duke University, where she focuses on getting scientists the skills they need to connect with journalists, lawmakers, and the public. Before coming to Duke, she spent time as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Fellow at the Chicago Tribune and as a science writer for The Scientist. She received her PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where she studied retinal development in zebrafish. Abby lives in Carrboro with her husband, a neuroscientist, practices yoga daily, and volunteers with her dog as a therapy team.


Karyn Traphagen

karyn_camilla_cropped.jpgCo-founder and former Executive Director of ScienceOnline

Karyn Traphagen’s life mission is echoed in the name of her blog: “Stay Curious.” For her, communicating science is not simply about giving answers; it is about highlighting the things that people sometimes miss. By asking questions, she helps others discover for themselves more about their own world. As the co-founder and former Executive Director of ScienceOnline, Karyn worked to cultivate the ways that science is conducted, shared, and communicated online. Karyn’s entire career has been dedicated to learning complex subjects and then successfully communicating these challenging topics to all levels of learners.  While Karyn’s house and part of her family are in Durham, NC, she lives online at Twitter (@kTraphagen) and Google+ and continues to challenge others to Stay Curious on her blog .

Session 2: Writing mechanics and the writing/publishing process

Sara Peach

peach_portrait_web.jpgJournalist and UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication Instructor

Sara Peach is a journalist and educator. As a freelance writer and videographer, she has covered climate change for National Geographic and other environment-focused publications. Peach’s work has earned awards from the National Press Photographers Association, Pictures of the Year International, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists.

She has taught at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill since 2010, where she developed a new course in environmental journalism and co-led the creation of a dual-degree program in environment and science communication. In 2014, she and a student-faculty team won a Knight Prototype Fund grant to develop Capitol Hound, a product that offers rapid transcripts and alerts for government sessions.

Session 3: Multimedia and non-print communication

Lomax Boyd

Scientist, Filmmaker, and NESCent fellow

Lomax is a scientist committed to unpacking the process and people of our scientific culture. He believes the science narrative should be an integral part of our broader scientific culture, both inside and outside the laboratory.

His research — evolutionary neuroscience — lives between the evolutionary, developmental, and neurobiological spheres of biology. He searches for genes — the exact DNA sequences - that distinguish our species from the chimpanzees. You know that lobed structure sitting between your shoulders — the neocortex — the evolution of that structure is the biological subtract of our culture. But how did this uniquely large organ emerge from the primordial soup? He’s trying to find out. And the answer to that question is our ultimate story as a uniquely self-aware primate.

Science communication takes on many forms from the scholarly prose of academic journals to the witty comedics of the popular show Big Bang Theory. Regardless, almost every form of communication is moving toward the web, which has some extraordinary affordances for communicating science; namely, the integra­tion of media forms and data visualization. The digital progeny of these legacy formats can be wonderfully integrated in a web-based world. Lomax’s passion is to seek out how different media traditions, especially the documentary form, can be used to share science with the world. To this end, he is a student at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies where he is learning the art of storytelling.

He is also a contributing member of the Scientists with Stories Project.


Clare Fieseler

Claire_Fieseler.JPGRadio Producer and Co-founder of Scientists with Stories

I am a Ph.D. student in the Castillo Lab studying coral reef resilience and marine management discourse. My interdisciplinary dissertation research is made possible through UNC's Curriculum for the Environment & Ecology. Prior to attending UNC, I completed a masters at Duke University and a bachelors at Georgetown University. My dissertation research in funded through the Nature Conservancy and the National Geographic Society. I am highly involved in science communication, drawing from mypast employment in natural history filmmaking and my current freelance science reporting for public radio. I am the co-founder and current director of Scientist with Stories, a non-profit that trains scientists to communicate with the public through narrative.

Brian Malow

Brian MalowCurator of the SECU Daily Planet, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Carving out a niche for himself as "Earth's Premier Science Comedian," Brian has entertained general audiences across the country as well as performing for NASA, the American Chemical Society, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and others.  He is a frequent participant in science festivals, a favorite at universities, and has spoken on numerous occasions at outlets of the National Academies.

In addition to his stand up, Brian produces and appears in science videos for Time Magazine's website and is a contributor to Neil deGrasse Tyson's radio show. He also gives workshops and presentations to help train scientists to become better public speakers, for clients such as the National Research Council of Canada, the National Science Foundation, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Brian has appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS) and on TechTV, Discovery, A&E, NPR's Science Friday with Ira Flatow, and The State of Things.  He's also been featured in Nature, Chemical & Engineering News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the News and Observer.

Brian is a photography enthusiast with a particular interest in macro photography of insects.  His photographs have appeared in Natural History Magazine, The Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, and BugGuide.net. He serves on the advisory board of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, and is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

Holly Menninger

Holly MenningerDirector of Public Science for Your Wild Life in the Department of Biological Sciences at NCSU

An entomologist by training, Dr. Holly is a science communicator by passion and practice. She has worked at the intersection of science and society – in policy, natural resource management, and public engagement in science. Holly earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Denison University. She spent her college summers with net in hand, conducting ecological research on the insects living in the ponds and forests of central Ohio. She developed a particular fondness for dragonflies and damselflies, as well as Madagascan hissing cockroaches (which she kept as dorm room pets, much to her roommate’s disapproval!).

As a graduate student in the Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics program at the University of Maryland, Holly focused on the ecology of insects living in and near streams. The 2004 emergence of the 17-year periodical cicadas in the Washington, D.C. metro area rocked her world and career trajectory – away from basic research toward a future in science communication. Holly and her cicada-maniac colleagues in Maryland’s Entomology Department took the media by storm, getting millions inside the Beltway (and beyond) jazzed about the boisterous, buzzing cicadas. Long after the cicadas were gone, Holly continued to appear as a regular “Bug-spert” on CNN’s American Morning, dishing out info and advice on mosquitoes, bed bugs, and summer insect pests.

Up for a challenge after her PhD, Holly spent time in Washington, D.C. taking science communication to a new level. As a senior public affairs associate with the American Institute of Biological Sciences, a nonprofit professional society, she focused on communicating the importance and benefits of scientific research and education to federal and state policymakers. Holly led strategic meetings with government officials and worked with other biologists to present their research in clear and compelling ways to the public through the media.

Holly then went back to the bugs (particularly the big, bad kind) in her work as senior extension associate in the Department of Natural Resources and coordinator of the NY Invasive Species Research Institute at Cornell University. She brought together research scientists, land managers, policymakers, and concerned citizens to protect New York State’s natural resources from threats posed by invasive species like the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle.  Holly also co-hosted and produced a weekly radio show called “Science Cabaret on Air,” mixing up a lively cocktail of science, culture, and art every Sunday on Ithaca’s 91.7 FM WICB.

Most recently, Holly became the Director of Public Science for Your Wild Life in the Department of Biological Sciences at NC State University, an outreach program dedicated to understanding and celebrating the biodiversity in our every day lives – from our belly buttons to our backyards. In those rare moments when she’s not coordinating citizen science projects, blogging at Your Wild Life, or tweeting, you’ll likely find Holly knitting, gardening, or putting up jars of fruits and veggies.

Session 4: Communicating science throughout your career

Katie Burke

KatieBurke.jpgAssociate Editor at American Scientist magazine

Katie L. Burke is associate editor at American Scientist, a magazine that publishes articles written for the general public by scientists or historians of science about their own peer-reviewed work. With a PhD in Biology, she segued from higher education to publishing because of her interest in communicating complex topics and addressing misperceptions among the public about science, as well as misperceptions among scientists about the public. She has also been an instrumental part of American Scientist’s team as they explore new digital platforms.

Mark Kruse

Duke Physics Professor, US ATLAS Outreach & Education Coordinator

Mark Kruse is the Fuchsberg-Levine Family Professor of Physics at Duke University, specializing in experimental high-energy physics. Kruse has led various physics groups at both the CDF experiment at Fermilab, and the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. His current research involves developing novel techniques to search for new fundamental particles beyond those predicted by our Standard Model of particle physics. Kruse is currently the US ATLAS Outreach and Education Coordinator, and the US ATLAS Transition Radiation Tracker Manager. In 2012 he was inducted into the Bass Society of Fellows at Duke University for "excellence in teaching and research".

Robin Smith

111314_smith002.jpgScience Writer at Duke Office of News and Communications

Robin Smith was a researcher and writing teacher for more than ten years before joining the news office at Duke University, where she covers the life and physical sciences across campus. Prior to that she worked at the Duke Lemur Center and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham. Robin earned a PhD in evolutionary biology in 2005, and has published academic articles in Evolution, American Naturalist, and the American Journal of Botany. She has also written for the Raleigh News and Observer, the Charlotte Observer, and the blog column of Scientific American. Robin is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and serves on the board of the local science writing group, Science Communicators of North Carolina. When she’s not at her desk, Robin spends her time exploring art and the outdoors with her husband and son, and waxing nostalgic about sleep. She tweets at @dukeresearch and (more rarely)@robinannsmith.

Nate DeGraff

Director of Communications at NCSU College of SciencesNate_DeGraff_pic

Nate DeGraff is director of communications for NC State University’s College of Sciences, leading a multi-platform communications program that markets the College to alumni, prospective students, parents, peer institutions, and business and industry. He previously worked in the communications office at NC State’s College of Engineering and as a staff writer at the (Greensboro, NC) News & Record. His writing and editing have earned awards from the NC Press Association, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the Mental Health Association in North Carolina.

Nate holds a master’s degree in journalism mass and communication from UNC-Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree from Guilford College. He lives in Durham, NC,  with his wife and daughter.