I believe that one of my most important responsibilities as a scientist and conservation biologist is to effectively engage the public in the work that I do. I’ve worked with students from the pre-school to college level and I really enjoy participating in public outreach activities for people of all ages. From chatting with passers-by as I conduct field work at Barton Springs to judging the science fair at Forest Trail Elementary School, I value every interaction I am able to have as a conservation biologist with the public.
I help organize the Science Under The Stars public outreach lecture series (website, facebook) with a small team of amazing graduate students at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory, and was a speaker for the series in 2009. We are very honored that Science Under The Stars was the 2011 recipient of the College of Natural Sciences Outreach Excellence Award at the University of Texas! I’ve also given outreach lectures for groups like the Austin Herpetological Society and would be happy to come and speak to your group! In April 2012, I will be giving an outreach lecture on fire ecology and how it has been depicted in the arts through the ages at the Art From The Ashes benefit exhibition for the Bastrop, Texas wildfires and the Lost Pines Recovery Team.
As an environmental scientist for the City of Austin, I help conduct outreach tours to educate the public about the conservation of the endangered Barton Springs Salamander. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to lead an official Ecological Society of America field trip to Barton Springs for the 2011 annual meeting in Austin, Texas. I also founded the EuryceAlliance in 2010, a scientific working group dedicated to improving conservation research and outreach about the threatened and endangered central Texas salamanders.
In an effort to promote creative endeavors in science communication and interdisciplinary studies, I write about the intersection of biology and the arts on my science blog, biocreativity.wordpress.com. I’ve met some really amazing artists, biologists and science writers through my work on the blog! For example, I met local science journalist Lindsay J. Patterson while covering the recent Ecological Society of America meeting in Austin and we decided to start the Austin Science Communicators group. Feel free to join us for our next meetup!
I believe one of the most engaging ways to involve the public in the sciences is through the arts. Creative thinking can lead to incredible artistic and scientific innovations, and exploring the interaction between the arts and the sciences can be a fun and engaging way of exploring the natural world. To this end, I opened Art.Science.Gallery. in 2012. Our mission is to provide a friendly environment to make science more accesible to everyone through science-related visual arts exhibitions, to foster the careers of emerging and established artist-scientists and to provide professional development opportunities for scientists to become more engaging public communicators.