Building Leadership in Science Communication – Speaker Bios

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A C-DEBI Professional Development Workshop
October 17, 2016
9:00 – 4:30 p.m.
2016 C-Debi Annual Meeting
Marina, California

Mario Aguilera is the Interim Director of Communications at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. He oversees a department with responsibilities that include science communications, marketing, media relations, and development communications. He joined Scripps/UCSD in 1997 as a public information officer/science writer and three years later was promoted to assistant director of Scripps Communications. Prior to Scripps, Aguilera worked as a freelance journalist and reporter with the North County Times, the San Diego Daily Transcript, and The Log newspapers.

Sunshine Menezes, Ph.D., is executive director of Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (URI GSO) and associate director for communication in the URI GSO Office of Marine Programs. Metcalf Institute’s mission is to expand accurate environmental news coverage through innovative training and resources for journalists, scientists, and other science communicators to build a deeper public understanding of science and the environment. Menezes also serves as co-Team Leader for the Deep Carbon Observatory Engagement Team. Prior to focusing her communication efforts on improving public understanding of the environment, she developed national and state-level environmental policy, first as a Dean John Knauss National Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellow with Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and later as part of a multidisciplinary team at the URI Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant. Menezes received a B.S. in zoology from Michigan State University, a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.

Edward Ortiz has over 18 years experience as a journalist and screenwriter, and a decade as writing teacher at the university level. Ortiz recently wrapped up 11 years as science writer at the Sacramento Bee newspaper where he covered energy, environment and the sciences.  His journalism career includes a yearlong Metcalf Fellowship in Marine and Environment Reporting at the Providence Journal that included a research period at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Ortiz has also worked as a general assignment reporter for the Boston Globe. Ortiz currently teaches upper division feature film and documentary film writing at California State University, Sacramento. In that role he has been elemental to the success of a new generation of filmmakers emanating from the university’s film department – whose alum includes Ryan Coogler, director of the award-winning “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed.” Ortiz holds a MFA from New York University’s Dramatic Writing program. As a screenwriter Edward is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Science Screenwriting Award and his work has been produced off-off Broadway.

Molly Peterson has been covering the environment with a focus on water and climate change since 2002. She attended law school and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. A former reporter for Southern California Public Radio, she now files for numerous public media outlets. In the past year, she has worked for ISeeChange, a community climate and weather journal funded in part by NASA’s OCO-2 experiment.

Katie Pratt holds a PhD in molecular biology from Brown University, and currently works at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography as communications director for the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO). DCO is a global community of multi-disciplinary scientists unlocking the inner secrets of Earth through investigations into life, energy, and the fundamentally unique chemistry of carbon.

This program is supported by the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations


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