I have hosted, co-organized, or created a number of public science events designed to bring complex scientific, artistic and sociological issues to the public in an entertaining matter. Public science events bring science to the public in fun places, where they can attend with friends and meet the presenters themselves, thereby demystifying not only the science, but also the scientist.
My publicly-directed science publications and interviews also have the same goal: make science/science policy topics more fun for a non-scientific audience. I do this through simplifying jargon, using storytelling photography and catchy graphics to illustrate points, and describing with wry humor or palpable sensations when possible. Read below to see samples of events, interviews and writing.
When Brood II periodical cicadas emerged in 2013, Bizarre Foods tracked me down for a natural history lesson - plus cooking advice and support. Having just flown back from a red eye from Kyoto, I was struggling with words in my head. But, thanks to the magic of TV, the edit came out fine, and the cicadas that were cooked for us by Pasture in Richmond, Virginia. For the full video clip, click here.
NERD NITE DC
I co-founded in Nerd Nite DC in 2009, bringing DC its' first ever science speaker series. Nerd Nite is a grassroots event, now in over 100 cities worldwide, that is meant to bring "nerdy" topics to people in a place where they can relax with friends - making learning fun, interactive and a usually a little rowdy. From 2009 - 2016 we worked with over 240 scientists and artists to help them amuse and educate over 14,000 attendees. Topics ranged from space dust, to Roman hairstyles, to funky insect mating. We also co-sponsored events with the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic, and other institutions.
In 2004, Brood X periodical cicadas emerged across the east coast of the USA. These insects are unique because they live underground as nymphs for 13-17 years. living on the fluids of plant roots. Then, come spring of the appointed year, they emerge by the billions, shed their skin and become adults, frantically mate for two weeks…and then…die. A sad existence some might say, but a fascinating phenomenon nonetheless. Expecting a media onslaught during this emergence, Dr. Mike Raupp, a University of Maryland professor, asked a group of graduate students to help him answer questions for the public.
I was one of them.
In the process, I was inspired to write this small, entertaining cookbook, which to my surprise, was picked up by the global media. I am now re-writing Cicada-licious, to be a cookbook and a review of the scientific literature on entomophagy, including its global traditions, its use as animal feed, and the psychology of entomophagy in the West.
UNFCCC CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES
For several years I was the host or co-host of the US Center at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change annual Conference of Parties. I took on this role courtesy of fantastic colleagues at the State Department and US Department of Agriculture who gave me the time and funding the work at this event. Previous to the COP, I helped with setting the agenda and planning the content of some of the events, and while at the event, I promoted the event, managed Twitter, and hosted the speakers and the technology displays.
NERD NITE JAKARTA
Trailing on the success of Nerd Nite DC, in late 2015 I brought Nerd Nite to Jakarta. While science-based entertainment events like Nerd Nite are becoming quite common in much of the Western world, they are still very unusual in Asia. Indonesia is still struggling to build its' "knowledge ecosystem," which includes science-to-policy influence, better scientific publication rates, and science communication. For this reason, events like Nerd Nite are essential for improving public love of and understanding of science.
COMMODITY-DRIVEN FOREST LOSS: A STUDY OF SOUTHEAST ASIA
Funded by USAID, and completed in partnership with SIG, USDA, ICRAF, SERVIR, University of San Francisco, and FIPI Vietnam, this report is a comprehensive overview of how large-scale crops are leading to the destruction of forests in Southeast Asia. I, along with a great team, was one of the primary writers, as well as the sole formatter and owner of many of the photos. The report covers forest loss, associated greenhouse gas loss, and provides comprehensive recommendations about how to better use land in the tropics so that both conservation and economic development goals can be met.
JAKARTA DEVELOPMENT NETWORK
In early 2017, I was asked by a friend to help her co-found and organize Jakarta Development Network (JDN). At this monthly event, we featured speakers from the development world who give presentations, show videos, or sit on discussion panels that delve deeper into the issues affecting the development of Indonesia. We've had events on forest fires, land mapping, gender-based violence, and much more.
FAO: 15 YEARS IN AFGHANISTAN
Published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this report reflects back on 15 years of scientific and science policy programming in Afghanistan. I was the sole author, the primary photographer, and after great initial guidance from a friend in a partner agency, also did graphics and layout. The report covers seven different major areas of work for FAO, from irrigation to veterinary health to climate change. In each of the seven chapters, I photographed and recorded the stories of beneficiaries I was fortunate enough to meet. The report is testament to the good work FAO has done in the country, and is testament to the fact that international development funding can be well spent. For a pdf of the full report, click here.