Wednesday Opening Keynote | 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Johanna Varner, PhD, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Colorado Mesa University
Effective Public Engagement in Science
In a world where it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction, effective public communication has perhaps never been so important. In this keynote, Dr. Varner will review recent work on public engagement in scientific research, review strategies and considerations for effective messaging, and highlight ways that research administrators can support dialogue with local communities.
Dr. Johanna Varner is an ecologist, educator, and science communicator in Grand Junction, CO. Although she has past lives as a molecular biologist, an engineer, and a blueberry farmer, she found her true calling studying potato-sized alpine mammals called pikas. These animals are not only important indicator species in mountain ecosystems, but they are also an ideal platform for public engagement in science. Her science communication initiatives have included developing citizen/community science initiatives, collaborating with K-12 classrooms and museums, and working in a newsroom producing digital media content. Her efforts to promote dialogue and to reach undeserved audiences were recently recognized with the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement in Science and a national Ambassadorship through IF/THEN.