SciLine is led by a director with decades of experience in field and laboratory research, science journalism, and public affairs, and is staffed by experienced writers, editors, and communicators. A volunteer Advisory Board, consisting of scientists, general assignment and science reporters, and communications professionals regularly advises SciLine on strategy, development, and operations issues and to help ensure accuracy, quality, and impartiality.
Rick has more than three decades of experience in journalism and public affairs, including 15 years as a science reporter at the Washington Post and more than a decade leading strategic communications and media relations activities around issues of science and technology in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. 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. 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. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, with his wife Natalie Angier, the New York Times science writer and author.
Associate Director, Science
Dr. Meredith Drosback is a physical scientist with expertise in observational astrophysics and extensive science policy experience in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining SciLine, Meredith served for five years at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, most recently as its acting lead for science. There she worked with the public and private sectors to expand opportunities and improve learning outcomes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education as well as to support and strengthen the research and development enterprise in space science, materials science, and forensic science. Meredith also served as an AIP congressional fellow with the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, covering science and space policy legislative issues.
Before her arrival in Washington, D.C., Meredith was a postdoctoral research associate studying star formation at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado, her M.S. in physics from North Carolina State University, and a B.S. in chemistry from Duke University.
Karl brings to SciLine extensive experience in public policy, editing, and the technology of publishing. Over the last decade, he has had a particular focus on health care and health policy. Before joining SciLine, Karl was the communications director at the Alliance for Health Policy, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to help policymakers and journalists gain a greater understanding of health policy issues. Prior to that, he was the health editor at RealClear Media Group, where he managed the launch of the RealClearHealth website and the Morning Scan daily email newsletter. Karl was also a senior web editor at Kaiser Health News, where he managed the redesign and re-engineering of its website and the publication of its first blog. Karl also served as new media strategy editor at National Journal and as assistant managing editor for newsroom operations at washingtonpost.com.
Karl has a B.A. in political science from the College of Wooster and did graduate-level studies in political science at Duke University.
Associate Director, Digital Content
Becky is a speechwriter and public affairs strategist with a decade of experience in the science, health, and environment space. Over four years in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, she was a lead writer on climate policy and the environment and energy press lead for President Obama’s Science Advisor. Becky also served for four years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where she was director of speechwriting and played leading crisis-communications roles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Most recently, Becky was chief speechwriter at Children’s National Health System, where she shaped executive messaging on health care policy during a critical legislative period.
Becky holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental policy and master’s degrees in earth science and journalism, all from Columbia University. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Nick, and mutt, Red.
Program Associate for Administration, Marketing, and Analytics
Josh is a communications, marketing, and data analytics professional with experience in the private sector, nonprofit space, and on Capitol Hill. Before joining SciLine, Josh worked as the program associate for the Outreach, Engagement & Communications Systems team at AAAS’s Science & Technology Policy Fellowships. There he managed event planning and logistics and conducted ROI analyses on the program’s outreach activities. Previous to his time at AAAS, Josh served as marketing manager at a startup, BluShark Digital, where he worked on search engine optimization for legal and professional clients across the United States and Canada. While at university, Josh worked for his hometown congressman, Jared Huffman, on international relations, transportation, and environmental issues as well as fulfilling administrative duties.
Josh graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a B.A. in political science with a focus on science and technology policy.
Digital Science Producer, PBS NewsHour
Nsikan Akpan is the digital science producer for PBS NewsHour and co-creator of the award-winning digital series ScienceScope. Nsikan was elected to the board of the National Association of Science Writers in September 2016. Prior to joining NewsHour, his work appeared in NPR, Science Magazine, Science News, Scientific American, Newsweek, and elsewhere. He holds a doctorate in pathobiology (Columbia University) and is an alum of the science communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Actor, Writer, and Visiting Professor, Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University
Alan Alda is an actor, writer, and co-founder of The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where he is a visiting professor. The Center has trained nearly 10,000 scientists in improv-based communications skills in the United States and abroad since its inception in 2009.
Director of Science Outreach, COMPASS Science Communication
Nancy Baron leads communication workshops around the world for scientists in academia, government, and non-governmental organizations for COMPASS, a nonprofit organization. She guides scientists on how to engage in society’s conversations and make their research more relevant to journalists, policy makers, and the public. Her practical communications book, Escape from the Ivory Tower: A guide to making your science matter (Island Press), is widely used by environmental scientists. Nancy received the 2013 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in the Media for her work at the intersection of science and journalism.
Co-founder & CEO, World Science Festival
Tracy Day serves as CEO of the World Science Foundation, overseeing the creative and programmatic offerings of the World Science Festival and producing original theatrical, musical, and multimedia works at the intersection of science and art. She is a four-time National News Emmy award-winning journalist and has produced live and documentary programming for the nation’s preeminent television news divisions for over two decades.
Senior Writer, NBC News
Maggie Fox’s passion is writing what’s true about medicine and science. She is a journalist with more than 35 years’ experience in reporting from around the world and has been focused on health and science for more than 20 of those years. Maggie is the former global health and science editor for Reuters and former healthcare and technology editor for National Journal, and she is now senior writer at NBC News, focusing on simple, straightforward explanatory journalism and telling stories. For Maggie, it’s all about the people, and it’s all about making it clear.
Ford Foundation Professor of Physics and Affiliate Professor of Mathematics, Brown University
Sylvester James “Jim” Gates Jr. is an award-winning American theoretical physicist. He is a Ford Foundation Professor of Physics at Brown University and College Park Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland. He has authored over 200 scientific publications and has been featured in several popular physics documentaries, including: “The Elegant Universe,” “Fabric of the Cosmos,” and “The Hunt for the Higgs.” Jim co-wrote Superspace, the first comprehensive book about supersymmetry, and was the first African American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major U.S. research university.
President, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Former Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg is an internationally recognized leader in public health and medicine. She has devoted most of her career to public service, including such significant roles as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), assistant secretary for planning and evaluation (HHS), health commissioner for New York City, and assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Hamburg is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Health, Science, and Environment Editor, The Washington Post
Laura Helmuth is the health, science and environment editor for The Washington Post and the president of the National Association of Science Writers. She has previously worked as an editor for National Geographic, Slate, Smithsonian, and Science magazines. She has a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley.
Community Engagement Editor, Idaho Statesman
Bill Manny is the community engagement editor at the Idaho Statesman. He has worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, D.C. He is a bicyclist, backpacker and peak-bagger, and he is past president of Boise City Club. He lives in Boise, Idaho.
Co-Founder and President, Quadrivium Foundation
Kathryn Murdoch is co-founder and president of the Quadrivium Foundation. She is an advocate for improving science communications and is a trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund, Rockefeller University, and Climate Central and an adviser to the Meta-Research Innovation Center (METRICS) at Stanford.
Independent Journalist; Senior Fellow, Democracy Fund
Geneva Overholser is a longtime newspaperwoman (New York Times editorial board, Washington Post ombudsman, editor of the Des Moines Register) whose last full-time gig was running the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. She now serves on boards (CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Rita Allen Foundation, Northwestern University in Qatar) and advises Democracy Fund, Report for America, Trust Project, and AAAS Public Face of Science.
Professor of Science Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Dietram A. Scheufele is the John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Communication Association, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. His research deals with the public and political interfaces of emerging science. Scheufele has been a tenured faculty member at Cornell University, a Shorenstein fellow at Harvard University, and a visiting scholar at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
Environment Reporter, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune
Mark Schleifstein is the environment and hurricane reporter for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, and a leader of its new Louisiana Coastal Reporting Team. Schleifstein's reporting on Katrina was among the newspaper's stories honored with 2006 Pulitzer Prizes for Public Service and Breaking News Reporting. He's the co-author with John McQuaid of the book "Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms," about Katrina. He also was co-author of the 1996 series, "Oceans of Trouble: Are the World's Fisheries Doomed?", which won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Journalism, Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at University of Texas at Austin
Talia Stroud has published extensively on how our beliefs influence the information that we seek and how we interpret that information, including in scientific contexts. She directs the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, which is focused on understanding how people interact with media and how to improve their media experiences.