David Biello is the author of The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth’s Newest Age. He is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting on the environment and energy since 1999—long enough to be cynical but not long enough to be depressed. He is the Science Curator for TED as well as a contributing editor at Scientific American. He has also written for publications ranging from Aeon and Foreign Policy to The New York Times and The New Republic. Biello has been a guest on numerous television and radio shows, and he hosts the documentary series Beyond the Light Switch as well as The Ethanol Effect for PBS. David Biello received a BA in English from Wesleyan University and a MS in Journalism from Columbia University. He currently lives with his wife, daughter, and son near a Superfund site in Brooklyn.
The Challenges of Reporting on Energy and the Environment in our Region
Kiah Collier is a reporter and editor for The Texas Tribune where she focuses on energy and environmental policy through the lens of state government and politics. Since graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in philosophy and multimedia journalism, Kiah has reported for publications across Texas, including the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman. Kiah began her career at a small newspaper in West Texas, where she chronicled a burgeoning oil-and-gas boom and broke news about energy companies’ voluminous water use during a prolific drought. In 2017, Kiah won a Peabody Award for her work on a multimedia project that examined research into a specific type of hurricane scientists say will eventually devastate the city of Houston.
Brendan Gibbons covers the environment and water for the Rivard Report, an independent nonprofit newsroom in San Antonio. He previously covered the environment for a daily newspaper in Scranton, Pennsylvania and the San Antonio Express-News. He holds a degree in science journalism from the University of Missouri, and his background includes stint as a science aide monitoring birds for the U.S. Forest Service and as an office assistant for a plant science lab in Missouri. He grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Asher Price writes about politics, energy and the environment for the Austin American-Statesman. Three times the Society of Environmental Journalists has named him a finalist for a national beat reporter of the year award. He is the author of the memoir Year of the Dunk: A Modest Defiance of Gravity and co-author of the Great Texas Wind Rush: How George Bush, Ann Richards and a Bunch of Tinkerers Helped the Oil and Gas State Win the Race to Wind Power. Interested in the intersection of race and sports, he’s currently at work on a biography about Earl Campbell.
Unconventional Science Communication
Roxanne Bogucka is the founder and convener of the UT Science Communication Interest Group, which annually hosts the Science In Plain English contest and Research Speed-Dating. For more than a decade as a librarian with the UT Libraries, she has produced science outreach programs, including Science Study Break—a series where STEM researchers discuss the science shown in popular movies and TV shows. Roxanne has a B.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University, and an M.L.I.S. in Library & Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin.
Joe Hanson is a Ph.D. biologist and science writer based in Austin, TX. He’s the creator/host/writer of PBS Digital Studios’ It’s Okay To Be Smart, a blog and a YouTube show about science. He writes: “We live in the future, and that future is one in which science impacts every part of our lives. But too many people aren’t taking part in that future. Too many aren’t taking part in science. We must teach science as more than facts. It’s a creative process, it’s an instant injection of wonderment, it’s the excitement we feel at the edge of knowledge. It’s for everyone.”
Mickey Delp is an electrical and computer engineer with expertise in analog and digital circuit design and embedded systems programming. He is the founder and Chief Inventor at Delptronics, a maker of unique electronic musical instruments. He is an instructor at dadageek where he teaches analog audio electronics. He is a frequent presenter at Dorkbot and Nerd Nite, and co-developed and co-runs the Nerd Nite Austin Ambasador program. Mickey is also an electronic musician who performs solo and with various projects around Austin.
PIOs Outside the Box: New Audiences, New Ways to Reach Them
Marc Airhart is a public information officer in the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. In addition to the typical work of a PIO, he produces a monthly science podcast called Point of Discovery. Before coming to the university, he was a writer and producer for the daily science radio program Earth & Sky. He has also written for national publications including Scientific American, Mercury, The Earth Scientist, Environmental Engineer & Scientist, and StarDate Magazine. Marc is a long-time member of the National Association of Science Writers. He was twice selected a fellow of the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Science Journalism Program.
Rachel Barry went to Space Camp when she was 12 years old, fell in love with MMUs (think: Jet Packs!) and then turned into a journalism nerd. When she watched NASA adopt a new communication style and community outreach during the STS-125 Hubble Space Telescope repair mission in 2009, she knew she could finally find a place for herself at the space agency. She was active in the space enthusiast Twitter community, and went to NASASocials back when they were called Tweetups. She went on to land a dream job in communications at NASA’s Johns Space Center, where she leads the team that produces everything from gifs to Instagram stories about the research happening aboard the International Space Station. She spends her days tweeting about things like heart cells beating in microgravity, and explaining complex research topics like DNA sequencing in 140 characters or 60-second videos. She’s a 42-year-old who’s not afraid of Snapchat.
Rebecca Fowler is a freelance science writer based in Bryan, Texas and New York City. She manages communications for the Center for Climate and Life at Columbia University and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. Rebecca frequently collaborates with Earth and ocean scientists on education and outreach initiatives, participating in their fieldwork and writing about the process of doing research. Rebecca enjoys connecting people with science in somewhat unconventional ways: She’s co-creator of the Climate Models calendar (the hottest thing since the Hadean Eon), a project that used Columbia scientists as models to humanize science and increase understanding of climate research. She’s also collaborated with New York City’s International Center of Photography on a series of public programs that brought climate scientists into the museum to discuss their work.
Nadia M. Whitehead is a science writer at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. Nadia helped launch The Exam Room, a monthly Facebook Live Q&A session that features various faculty practitioners at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. Community members are invited to tune in to the sessions and pose their health questions directly to the institution’s doctors. Nadia studied anthropology and multimedia journalism at The University of Texas at Austin and later honed her storytelling skills in Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Arts in science-medical writing program. In her (very rare) spare time, Nadia enjoys freelancing. Her work has appeared in NPR, Science, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Everyday Health, the American Heart Association and Undark, a publication of MIT’s knight science journalism program.
How to Pitch Your Stories to Editors
Louie Bond is the editor of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, where for more than a decade she’s translated biologist-speak into entertaining and accessible articles. Like many of you, Louie was the kid who stared out the classroom window, needing to hold that lizard to learn about it, more interested in the butterfly on her finger than the textbook on the desk. Today’s short-attention-span audiences demand snap, crackle and pop in their choice of publications, often passing over what looks like “heavy” reading. Do we have to sacrifice scientific accuracy for wider outreach, or is there a sweet spot where it all balances? Texas Parks & Wildlife has won many accolades, but none please Louie more than testimonials from lifelong readers who were inspired by the magazine.
Tina Casagrand is Publisher/Editor of The New Territory Magazine.
Chris O’Connell is a senior editor at the Alcalde magazine, the independent and official alumni magazine for the University of Texas at Austin, where he edits and writes feature stories and produces a web documentary show called Alcalde Docs. Recent episodes on science and technology have highlighted a student Hyperloop project and the MasSpec Pen for cancer detection on the molecular level. Chris is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Texas Monthly, Columbia Journalism Review, Talking Points Memo, Splinter, and the A.V. Club.
So You Want to Publish a Book?
Stacy Eisenstark worked on books in a variety of fields, including natural history, at the University of California Press before coming to Texas A&M University Press in 2016. At TAMUP, she acquires and edits books on all facets of the natural environment for both trade and scholarly audiences. She holds a B.A. in history from UC Berkeley.
Jim Hornfischer is president of Hornfischer Literary Management, L.P., a literary agency with a strong track record handling a broad range of serious and commercial nonfiction. Hornfischer’s clients include major award-winning nonfiction writers, memoirists, historians, scientists, professionals, journalists, and assorted other literary artists. Hornfischer is one of the few agents in the country who is both a licensed attorney and a former New York trade book editor. He is also the author of four well-received nonfiction books of his own. This combination of experience makes him an effective advocate as well as a perceptive editorial adviser for his clients. In sixteen years as an agent, Hornfischer has handled many New York Times bestsellers and ranks consistently among the top nonfiction dealmakers on Publishers Marketplace, the leading book industry publication. The company enjoys strong relationships with all of the New York publishing companies.
Juli Berwald, received her Ph.D. in Ocean Science at USC working on satellite imagery of the ocean. She wrote science and math textbooks in Austin, Texas for about a decade before branching out into more mainstream science writing, publishing in National Geographic, Wired, and The New York Times among others. This year she published her first non-textbook called Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone, which is both about the incredible gelatinous animals that swim in our seas as well as the health of our planet and our role in it.
Melissa Gaskill has a B.S. in Zoology from Texas A&M University and a master’s in journalism from The University of Texas. An independent journalist for more than 20 years, she writes about science, nature, the environment, and travel, mostly the outdoor adventure kind. Her work has appeared in many places, including Scientific American, Men’s Journal, Newsweek, The New York Times, Alert Diver, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, and NASA’s International Space Station research webpage. She wrote Best Hikes with Dogs: Texas Hill Country and Gulf Coast and is a co-author of A Worldwide Travel Guide to Sea Turtles. She lives in Austin and has three grown children.
Using Improv to Sharpen Science Communication Skills
Nichole Bennett‘s big passion is helping scientists better communicate their research. STEMprov: Improv for Science Communication (stemprov.org) introduces scientists to the tools of improvisational acting to help them become better collaborators, increase their storytelling skills, and become more relaxed with the unknowns of science communication. Nichole regularly teaches and performs improv around Austin and is a graduate of The Hideout Theatre’s improv classes. She is a Teaching Assistant for The Hideout Theatre’s adult classes and special needs youth and teen classes. For her day job, she is a curriculum developer and instructor with Hello World Tech Studio, where she introduces kids to engineering thinking through data science and web development programming.