2019 Science Communications Summit

The Office of Science presents the Office of Communications and Public Affairs' fourth Science Communications Summit: Scientists As Communicators

Where: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; 2575 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park, CA 94025

When: September 16 & 17, 2019

Follow the conversation: #SCSummit19 

Monday, September 16

8:00-9:00 a.m.


Location: Kavli Auditorium Foyer

Shannon Shea, Office of Science

Kate Bannan, Office of Science

9:00-9:30 a.m.

Welcome and Overview

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Melinda Lee, Chief Communications Officer, SLAC

Brian Sherin, Chief Commuications Officer, SLAC

Farnaz Khadem, Vice President for University Communications, Stanford University

Paul Golan, Executive Site Manager, SLAC 

Rick Borchelt, Director, Office of Science Communications and Public Affairs 

9:30-10:15 a.m.

Public Engagement for Scientists

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Brooke Smith, Director of Public Engagement, The Kavli Foundation

(Q&A, Moderator: Catherine Zandonella, Communications Manager, Princeton University)

10:15-10:30 a.m.


10:30-11:15 a.m.

Scientific Expertise and Context on Deadline

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Rick Weiss, Director, AAAS SciLine

(Q&A, Moderator:  Karen McNulty-Walsh, Science Writer, BNL)

11:15-12:00 p.m.

Trust and Mistrust in Americans’ Views of Scientific Experts

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Cary Funk, Director of Science and Society Research, Pew Research Center

(Q&A, Moderator: Rick Borchelt)

12:00-12:15 p.m.


12:15-1:00 p.m.

Lunch Workshop: Future of Science Journalism

Location: Kavli Lobby

Erika Check Hayden Director, Science Communication Program, University of California, Santa Cruz

(Q&A, Moderator: Rick Borchelt)

1:00-2:30 p.m.


Location: Tour Bus

Rachel Isip

Reminder: Closed-toe shoes required

2:30-2:45 p.m.    

Director’s Message

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Chris Fall, Director, DOE, Office of Science

(Q&A, Moderator: Allison Eckhardt, Deputy Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Office of Science)

2:45-4:00 p.m.

Messaging Matters

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Leslie Krohn, Chief Communications Officer, Argonne National Laboratory

Karen King, Communications Manager, Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, Michigan State University

Branden Brough, Deputy Director, Molecular Foundry, LBNL

(Q&A, Moderator: John German, Chief Communications Officer, LBNL)

4:00-5:15 p.m.

Scientists as Communicators: Motivations and Training

Location: Kavli Auditorium

John Besley, Ellis N. Brandt Professor of Public Relations, Michigan State University

Dennis Schatz, Senior Fellow, Institute for Learning Innovation

(Q&A, Moderator:  Rick Borchelt)

5:15-5:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks/Prep for Day 2

Location: Kavli Auditorium

5:30-6:30 p.m.

Happy Hour

Location: SLACafe


Tuesday, September 17

8:30-9:00 a.m.

Coffee and breakfast purchase

Location: Kavli Foyer

9:00-9:30 a.m.

Conversations with The Conversation

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Martin LaMonica, Deputy Editor, The Conversation

9:30-10:00 a.m.

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Nanci Bompey Assistant Director, Public Information, American Geophysical Union



10:15-11:15 a.m.

Break-out Sessions

Location: Berryessa (2002), Trinity A (1350-A), Trinity B (1350-B)

Moderator for Messaging: Igor Houwat

Communications Coordinator, Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University

Moderator for Training: Pete Genzer

Deputy Director, Stakeholder & Community Relations Office, BNL

Moderator for Scientist PR: Massie Ballon, Communications & Outreach Specialist, Joint Genome Institute

11:15-12:15 p.m.

Report-out and Recap

Location: Kavli Auditorium

Moderators and Rick Borchelt

12:15-1:15 p.m.


Location: Cafeteria

Massi Ballon Profile Picture

Massie S. Ballon is part of the Communications & Outreach team at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI), a DOE Office of Science user facility. (Follow @jgi on Twitter!) She graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in molecular biology & biochemistry, and has a certificate in science communication from UC Santa Cruz. At the JGI, Massie's responsibilities include developing and disseminating print and multimedia content, managing social media, and community outreach. She is also one of the Biosciences Area representatives to the Berkeley Lab Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Chairs Council. 

John Besley Profile Picture

John Besley studies public opinion about science and scientists' opinions about the public in the context of trying to help science communicators be more strategic. He wants to better understand how views about decision-makers and decision processes affect perceptions of science and technology (S&T). John’s work has appeared in high-ranking journals including Risk AnalysisScience Communication, and Public Understanding of Science. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, and a range of foundations. He is the associate editor for risk communication for Risk Analysis. In addition to his regular research, John is the lead author for the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 (ongoing) National Science Board chapters on public attitudes and knowledge about science and technology.

  1. Besley (2016) Science Communication Training 
  2. Besley (2017) Scientists and Objectives Besley
  3. (2018) Willingness to Engage 
  4. TOG Model
Nanci Bompey Profile Picture

Nanci Bompey is the assistant director of AGU’s public information department, which publicizes new research published in AGU journals and presented at AGU meetings to the press and public. Nanci also leads press operations at AGU meetings, manages the organization’s social media channels and blogs, oversees AGU’s journalism awards, and plays key roles in AGU’s media relations and science communications efforts, and development of the organization’s content strategy. She is also a co-host and producer of AGU’s podcast Third Pod from the Sun. Prior to coming to AGU in 2013, Nanci was a managing editor at FDA Week, a weekly publication covering the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, DC., and a health and environment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina. Nanci’s reporting has been recognized by the North Carolina Press Association and the Education Writers Association, and she was a National Press Foundation 2012-2013 Paul Miller Fellow. She has also worked as a chemist at a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey. Nanci holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Colgate University.

AGU Science Communication Resources: https://www.agu.org/Share-and-Advocate/Share

Additional AGU Resources: https://sharingscience.agu.org

Rick Borchelt Profile Picture

Rick Borchelt is director of communications and public affairs for DOE’s Office of Science. He has had a varied career in science communications and public policy, including stints as special assistant for communications at the National Cancer Institute; communications director for science and economics at USDA; director of communications for the Pew‑funded Genetics and Public Policy Center; media relations director for the National Academy of Sciences; press secretary for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology; special assistant for public affairs in the Executive Office of The President; and director of communications and public affairs at The Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA. He was member of the National Academy of Science’s roundtable on Public Interfaces in the Life Sciences, and served on the National Academy of Engineering’s study of engineering communication. He currently serves on the National Academies’ study committee for the forthcoming report on the future of natural history collections in the US. Areas of particular interest include science and public policy, trust in science, extension communication research, and developing community based public engagement in science.

Branden Brough Profile Picture

Branden Brough is the Molecular Foundry’s Deputy Director. In this role, Dr. Brough is responsible for the development and implementation of strategies and policies that ensure the efficient and effective support of the Molecular Foundry’s mission. He also works closely with the Director, as well as other members of the Foundry leadership team, to guide the organization’s scientific plans and initiatives. He serves as a steward of the Foundry’s internal and user research portfolio and when necessary, stands in for the Director to represent the organization as a resource and advocate.

Chris Fall Profile Picture

Dr. Chris Fall serves as Director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the lead federal agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy and the nation's largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. He oversees the Office's two principal thrusts: direct support of scientific research, and development, construction, and operation of unique, open-access scientific user facilities that are made available to external researchers. The Office of Science also is responsible for stewardship of 10 of the Department's 17 national laboratories. Fall earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia. He also holds an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

Cary Funk Profile Picture

Cary Funk is director of science and society research at Pew Research Center, where she has co-authored of a number of reports focused on public trust in science, including views connected with energyclimatefood sciencechildhood vaccines, and emerging science issues such as gene editing. Recent studies include “Science News and Information Today” and “Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity.” She has specialized in public understanding of science topics since 2001 and has broad expertise in political and social attitudes, including American politics and elections, race and ethnicity, and religion.

Peter Genzer Profile Picture

Peter Genzer oversees Brookhaven National Laboratory's Media & Communications Office, which promotes Brookhaven’s international reputation as a center for scientific excellence and innovation. The office communicates Laboratory initiatives, goals, and accomplishments to internal and external audiences through numerous communications vehicles, builds and maintains relationships with media representatives around the globe, and publicizes information about the Laboratory’s research, personnel, events, policies and procedures. 

Genzer joined Brookhaven Lab in 1996. His accomplishments include leading the development of the Lab’s social media strategy and its first internal communications and involvement policy, as well as serving as the editor of the Monday Memo, a bi-weekly web-based management newsletter, now in its 19th year, that is regularly ranked by employees as their most trusted source of information.

Genzer earned a B.A. in journalism from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1993, and an M.A. in public policy from Stony Brook University in 2007. He was a reporter for the Times Beacon Record newspapers from 1994 to 1996, winning a New York Press Association “Rookie Reporter of the Year” award in 1994.

John German Profile Picture

John German is the chief communications officer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Previously, as director of research communications in Arizona State University's Office of the President, he led a team responsible for strategies that amplified ASU's reputation as an emerging American research university. He designed and led the first strategic communications program at the nonprofit Santa Fe Institute — the world headquarters of complexity science — and served in various communications roles at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque for two decades, where he led the corporate communications and media relations teams, acted as the lab’s primary spokesperson, planned and coordinated crisis and emergency communications, and pioneered new communications approaches. He was an undergraduate science writing intern at Los Alamos National Laboratory many, many years ago.

Erika Check Hayden Profile Picture

Erika Check Hayden became the third director of the University of California, Santa Cruz Science Communication program in January 2017. She worked from San Francisco for the news section of Nature from 2001 through 2016, reporting on biomedical research, emerging technologies, scientific trends, and ethics in science. Her reporting on the Ebola crisis from West Africa received multiple national honors in 2014 and 2015. Erika majored in biology at Stanford University, where she began her journalism career by writing for the Stanford Daily and the Stanford Alumni Magazine. She also has worked at Newsweek in New York, covering science, medicine, and breaking news.

Igor Houwat Profile Picture

Igor Nunes Houwat is the Communications Coordinator with the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL). As communications lead, he has developed and is implementing a new branding strategic plan aimed at: 1) defining the PRL brand identity, 2) establishing practices for consistent brand expression, and, 3) increasing brand awareness in the eyes of internal and external audiences, especially major stakeholders (DOE Office of Science and Michigan State University administration). He also creates and edits feature stories – including news releases, video, and animation – covering the PRL’s research, designs the PRL website, and promotes outreach events to internal and local media outlets. Igor´s educational background is in marketing and music. During his free time, he enjoys playing the Oud (Middle Eastern lute), hiking, bicycling, learning coding, and spending time with his partner and their awesome cat.

Karen King Profile Picture

Karen King is the Communications Manager for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University. She provides communications leadership, oversight, and guidance and manages all communication activities in support of establishing FRIB as a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science scientific user facility.

From weekly newspapers to a new DOE-SC nuclear physics discovery machine, Karen has worked nearly 18 years in communications, expanding her journalism training in writing and design to internal and external communications, strategic communications planning, website development, media relations, event planning, and social media outreach.    

Karen is a 2001 graduate of Michigan State University with a BA in journalism. She lives in East Lansing, Michigan, with her photojournalist husband and their three adorable but exhausting children, ages 5, 2, and 9 months. 

Leslie Krohn Profile Picture

Leslie Krohn joined Argonne National Laboratory in 2018 as Chief Communications Officer, where she has responsibility to promote and protect the reputation of one of America’s scientific powerhouses. She has spent more than two decades leading communications and marketing at the world's most admired and respected companies. From start-ups to global multinationals, Leslie has transformed marketing and communications functions in times of economic boom and bust, growth or decline. Leslie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and her Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.  A Pittsburgh native, Leslie has now lived in the Chicago area longer than anywhere else in her life.

Dennis Schatz Profile Picture

Dennis Schatz is Senior Fellow at the Institute of Learning Innovation, as well as Senior Advisor at Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington. He is also President of the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) board of directors. He led the initial development of the Portal to the Public (PoP) effort, and remains activity in the program. PoP is an initiative to develop programs that works with scientists to engage with public audiences regarding current science research and its application. He is Co-PI of the NSF funded Broader Impact Design (BID) Partnerships project to develop sustained institutional relationships between universities and ISE institutions regarding the delivery of broader impact activities provided by research scientists. He is also Co-PI of the NSF funded On-the-Spot Assessment (OSA) project to develop assessment strategies for scientists to embed in public presentations to assess how well the audience is understanding them. He was the founding Field Editor of the journal, Connected Science Learning, which highlights links between in-school and out-of-school learning. The journal is a joint effort of NSTA and ASTC (Association of Science-Technology Centers).  He was also a National Science Foundation (NSF) program officer from 2011 to 2015. He has received numerous honors.  Most recently, Asteroid 25232 was renamed Asteroid Schatz by the International Astronomical Union IAU) in recognition of his leadership in astronomy and science education. He is the author of 26 science books for children, and co-author/editor of several curriculum resources for teachers.


Schatz (2008) Face-To-Face with Scientists

Schatz (2010) The Path Forward


Brooke Smith Profile Picture

Brooke Smith is the Director of Public Engagement with Science at The Kavli Foundation. In this role, she works to strengthen the field of public engagement with science and science communications. Brooke is passionate about scientists engaging with publics, and ensuring those who enable scientists to communicate and engage are supported to do so effectively. Brooke’s expertise and experience are rooted in science, science communication, public engagement of science, public policy, journalism, organizational leadership, and fundraising. Until late 2016, Brooke served as the inaugural Executive Director of COMPASS, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to empowering scientists to be effective communicators and to engage in the public discourse about the environment. Her experiences stem from work in the federal government, as a consultant to federal agencies, as a University-based communication professional, and in the non-profit sector. Brooke frequently writes and speaks about state and future of the public engagement with science field. She has an M.S. from Oregon State University’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. Brooke serves on the National Caucus for Environmental Legislators Board of Directors, the National Academy of Science’s LabX Advisory Board. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Roundtable on the Public Interfaces of Life Sciences, served on the National Board of Directors for the Surfrider Foundation and Portland’s Forest Park Conservancy, and was a Donella Meadows Leadership Fellow.

The Kavli Foundation’s initiative to understand the support system for scientists’ communication and engagement: https://www.informalscience.org/support-systems-scientists’-communication-and-engagement-exploration-people-and-institutions

(2018) The Civic Science Imperative

Rick Weiss Profile Picture

Rick Weiss has more than three decades of experience in journalism and government public affairs, including 15 years as a science reporter at the Washington Post, five years as director of communications in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and three years as communications chief at the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). While at The Post, Rick wrote more than 1,000 news and feature articles about advances in science and technology and their economic, societal, and ethical implications. At OSTP he led the effort to have all federal science agencies adopt policies on research integrity and public communications. His awards include the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing’s Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting and the National Association of Science Writers’ Science and Society Award. Rick earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a license in medical technology with the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

If driving or using Uber/Lyft: Enter through the main gate off of Sand Hill Road. Stay in the left lane, stop at the guard house, and let SLAC security staff know what event you're attending. You will also need to present a valid, government-issued photo ID. Security will provide any necessary directions or parking information.

SLAC Visitor Information

SLAC/Stanford Shuttle Schedule


  • SLAC - Monday, September 16, 2019; 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. Closed- toe shoes required. Questions? Please contact rachel.isip@slac.stanford.edu
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Lab - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Questions? Please contact jdgerman@lbl.gov
  • Lawrence Livermore National Lab - Wednesday, September 18, 2019; 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Questions? Please contact seaver1@llnl.gov

Food Cart:

  • 9/16 & 9/17 Breakfast (mobile food cart in Kavli):
  • $2.99 – yogurt parfait cups or diced fruit salad
  • $2.18 – coffee
  • $1.62 – bottled water
  • $5.43 – breakfast burrito (choice of meat or veggie)
  • $7.07 – combo: breakfast burrito, parfait or fruit salad & OJ
  • 9/16 Lunch (mobile food cart in Kavli):
  • $7.07 – sandwich (choice of California turkey club, chicken dill salad, or tomato, mozzarella & olive tapenade)
  • $10.06 – combo meal: sandwich, chip or whole fruit, cookie and beverage
  • 9/16 Happy Hour (Café Patio):
  • $10.60 – wine or appetizers (selections include gourmet cheese and crackers platter, fruit platter, loaded potato skins, chicken satay)
  • $13.05 – combo: wine or beer & appetizers
The SLAC Visitor Map