Featured Speakers

At SciComm we bring together a variety of speakers from all different science communication backgrounds. Check them out below.

Keynote Speakers

  • Dr. Uché Blackstock
    Dr. Uché Blackstock Keynote Speaker

    Dr. Uché Blackstock is a thought leader and sought-after speaker on health inequalities and racism in health care. She is the Founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, which partners with healthcare and healthcare-related organizations to address the critical factors contributing to health inequity, through talks, workshops and consulting services. In 2019, Dr. Blackstock was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of ‘10 Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazers You Need To Get Familiar With‘. Her writing has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and STAT News for the Boston Globe.
    She was formerly an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Faculty Director for Recruitment, Retention and Inclusion in the Office of Diversity Affairs at NYU School of Medicine. She left NYU School of Medicine in December 2019 after almost 10 years on faculty to focus on Advancing Health Equity.
    Dr. Blackstock received both her undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University.

  • Andrew Revkin Keynote Speaker

    Andrew Revkin is founding director of the Initiative on Communication and Sustainability at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. There he is building programs, courses and collaborations bridging gaps between science and society to cut climate risk and spread resilience. Revkin has written on climate change for more than 30 years, reporting from the North Pole to the White House, the Amazon rain forest to the Vatican – mostly for The New York Times. From 2010 to 2016, he built and taught courses in online communication and environmental filmmaking at Pace University. Revkin has written five books, most notably “The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest,” which was made into an award-winning film by HBO, and has won most of the top awards in science journalism, along with a Guggenheim Fellowship and Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. In spare moments, he is a performing songwriter. Follow him on Twitter: @revkin.

  • Dr. Chris Volpe Keynote Speaker

    Dr. Christopher Volpe is the executive director and a founding board member of ScienceCounts, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting awareness and supporting science. With an academic background in physical chemistry and two decades of private sector experience in marketing and branding, Dr. Volpe is a leading voice in developing data-driven social marketing strategies to foster stronger connections between the scientific community and the general public. Previously, he was the president and co-founder of Prismatic Laser Programs LLC, the nation’s leading provider of STEM-based assembly programs to elementary and middle schools. In his free time, Dr. Volpe is a demonstration pilot of various types of historically significant WW2 aircraft.

Featured Speakers

  • Laurel Allen Featured Speaker

    Laurel Allen is Sr. Digital-Engagement & Community Manager for the California Academy of Sciences, where she oversees a social-media community of 3MM+, digital special-projects (e.g. apps, AR lenses, VR experiences, 360-object creative), and works with curators and researchers to help them better communicate their science. Her work leans heavily on a background in brand strategy and cultural research; areas of focus include social-media (paid and organic), persona/voice-and-tone development, influencer outreach for nonprofits, and how to stay as human as your followers are in any efforts to get their attention. An Explorers Club Fellow and Shorty Award winner, her long-form writing has appeared in Fast Company, Gizmodo, Indefinitely Wild, Modern Farmer, Alert Diver, and more.

  • Jocelyn Bosley Featured Speaker

    Jocelyn Bosley is the Assistant Director for Education and Outreach of the interdisciplinary Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the University of Nebraska. She draws upon her undergraduate training in math and physics, her graduate training in the history of science, and her experience teaching students from elementary to university in order to create engaging STEM programs for diverse audiences. She organizes the annual Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physical Sciences (WoPhyS), co-founded UNL’s annual Science Slam, and co-hosts the podcast Science! With Friends. She is also the co-creator and curator of the website Funsize Physics, which showcases the wonder, beauty, and potential of cutting-edge condensed matter and materials research for the science-curious public. Bosley is a past National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, has been honored as a Raytheon Math Hero for her mentorship of K-12 students, and was recently selected as one of 125 IF/THEN Ambassadors by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where she serves as a high-profile STEM role model for middle-school girls. You can find her on Twitter @SciTalker.

  • Dr. Christine E. Cutucache Featured Speaker

    Dr. Christine Cutucache is the Haddix Community Chair of Science, Associate Professor of Biology, and Director of the STEM Teaching, Research, and Inquiry-based Learning (TRAIL) Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2008 and her Doctor of Philosophy in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Anatomy in 2012 from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Cutucache is a tumor immunologist turned science educator, and maintains both research programs. Her research lab is diverse in studying both tumor immunology, and Discipline-Based Education Research (so called ‘DBER’ or science education). She and a research student have a provisional patent filed for a novel diagnostic and prognostic tool for splenic marginal zone lymphoma. Dr. Cutucache also serves as the founder of the now Nebraska-wide Nebraska STEM 4U (NE STEM 4U) program, which engages K-8 youth in high quality, out-of-school time activities in STEM via problem-based learning. To-date, this program has engaged more than 5,000 youth through sustainable, academic year-based programming. The NE STEM 4U project is a collaborative project between the University, Community Partners, and Foundation and industry stakeholders.

  • Dr. Rebecca Lai Featured Speaker

    Dr. Rebecca Lai is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from California State University, Los Angeles and Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research program addresses both fundamental and applied aspects of biosensor research, with the main focus on the design of folding- and dynamics-based electrochemical biosensors for environmental monitoring and point-of-care diagnostics. Dr. Lai has received various awards and honors, including the NSF Career Award, UNL CAS Distinguished Teaching Award, Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Education, CAS Original Research and Creative Activity Award, and the ACS Partners for Progress and Prosperity Regional Award. She is also the current Nebraska MRSEC Education and Outreach Director and is active in promoting inclusive science education. She has developed a comprehensive portfolio of education and outreach programs, including her signature “Harry Potter x Science” program that focuses on the scientific concepts behind the Harry Potter book series.

  • Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens
    Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens

    Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens is the Linda and Charles Wilson Professor in the History of Medicine and Director of the Humanities in Medicine program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is an Organization of American Historians’ (OAH) Distinguished Lecturer and has won a number of prestigious honors for her scholarly and advocacy work. A popular public speaker, Dr. Cooper Owens has spoken widely across the U.S. and Europe. She has published articles, essays, book chapters, and think pieces on a number of issues that concern African American experiences. Her first book, Medical Bondage: Race, Gender and the Origins of American Gynecology (Univ. of Georgia Press, 2017) won the 2018 Darlene Clark Hine Book Award from the Organization of American Historians as the best book written in African American women’s and gender history. Professor Cooper Owens is also the Director of the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia, the country’s oldest cultural institution. She is working on a second book project that examines mental illness during the era of United States slavery and is writing a popular biography of Harriet Tubman that examines her through the lens of disability.

  • Dr. Taylor Ruth Featured Speaker

    Dr. Taylor Ruth is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Taylor received her B.S. degree in microbiology and cell sciences from the University of Florida but quickly discovered she enjoyed talking to members of the community about science more than being in the lab all day. After realizing her interest in public engagement but lack of communication training due to her degree, she pursued a M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural communications from the University of Florida. During this time, she worked for the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Center for Public Issues Education (UF/IFAS PIE Center), where she studied science communication issues that spanned from risk perceptions of GMOs to crisis communication related to the Zika virus. Her current research agenda centers around how consumers make decisions and process complex information related to food and natural resources, with a goal of bridging the gap between members of the public and scientific communities.

  • Melinda Smith Featured Speaker

    Melinda likes to think she lives in the cozy center of a Venn diagram where science and creativity overlap. She received a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Arizona and spent time as a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA. Her research examined the effect of estrogens on neural circuitry of the hypothalamus (the tiny but amazing part of the brain where reproduction, thermoregulation, body weight, and circadian rhythm are all governed!). Concerned with growing mistrust of science and lack of scientific content publicly available, she packed up and left academia for a career in communications. Now a science writer at a pediatric research institution, Melinda finds daily joy in telling the stories of groundbreaking science. She feels lucky to cover a wide range of topics, from discoveries of novel intracellular signaling cascades to software that allows medical physicists to optimize radiation therapy for cancer. Her firm belief that science is for everyone fuels her to write stories that are exciting but factual. In between work and raising two daughters, she writes science-inspired fiction and poetry

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