Our People

SciLine is led by a director with decades of experience at the intersection of science, journalism, and public affairs. We are staffed by experienced scientists, communicators, reporters, and technologists. Our volunteer Advisory Board, comprising journalists, scientists, and communications professionals, regularly advises SciLine on strategy and operational issues and provides guidance in support of our commitment to accuracy, quality, and impartiality.


Staff

Rick Weiss

Director

Rick founded SciLine in 2017 in response to changes in the journalism landscape that saw a loss of specialty science reporters from many local newsrooms and a need to help local and general assignment reporters integrate more research-backed evidence into their reporting. He has more than three decades of experience in journalism and media affairs, including 15 years as a science reporter at The Washington Post, where he wrote more than 1,000 news and feature articles about the economic, societal, and ethical implications of advances in science and technology. He has led science and technology strategic communications operations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including within the White House and the Department of Defense. Rick earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Sara Brinda

Local media outreach manager
she/her

Sara is a science communications professional who leads SciLine’s outreach to local journalists, with an emphasis on local TV news. She works on projects—including SciLine’s Experts on Camera—to help busy local and general assignment reporters easily and conveniently connect with expert sources and include science in their stories. Previously, she served in strategic communications roles in nonprofit and academic settings, most recently at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Prior to her communications career, she held a research fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, where she studied fruit fly chromosomes. Sara attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where she earned a B.A. in biology, with a minor in Mandarin Chinese.

Joshua Colburn

Marketing & data analytics manager
he/him

Josh is a marketing and data science professional with experience in the private sector, nonprofit space, and on Capitol Hill.  At SciLine, Josh is responsible for managing marketing operations and partnerships, and the publishing and promotion of SciLine’s research-based content. On the analytics side, Josh helps ensure that SciLine is a data-driven organization, reporting on all aspects of SciLine’s services and building new ways to make the organization more efficient. Josh received his M.S. in applied data science, and M.S. in information management, from Syracuse University. He received his B.A. in political science from American University, where he focused on science and technology policy and political theory.

Meredith Drosback

Deputy director for science
she/her

Meredith has an academic background in the physical sciences, including a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado.  At SciLine, Meredith serves as the lead science adviser for SciLine’s services and manages the team tasked with liaising with the scientific community day-to-day.  She also coordinates the development of training opportunities for scientists and journalists and impact assessments of SciLine’s activities. Prior to this role, Meredith spent six years working in science policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. In that time she led the development and implementation of evidence-based policy on a wide range of science and space issues, including expanding opportunities and improving learning outcomes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education as well as strengthening the research and development enterprise in space science, materials science, and forensic science.

Lane Ebrill

Operations manager
they/them

Lane is an accounting and program management professional leading the budget and administration side of SciLine. With a decade of experience working within nonprofit organizations, Lane is here to keep SciLine running smoothly and efficiently. Lane works behind the scenes managing SciLine’s budget; making sure the bills get paid; organizing SciLine bootcamps and events; editing videos; and serving as SciLine’s internal communications hub so everyone on the team can stay connected and coordinated. Lane has a B.A. from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and double majored in cultural anthropology and studio art.

Karl Eisenhower

Managing editor

Karl brings to SciLine extensive experience in public policy, editing, and the technology of publishing. In addition to his editing duties as managing editor, he manages the development and maintenance of key technologies for the team, including database and web publishing systems. Before joining SciLine, Karl was the communications director at the Alliance for Health Policy, the health editor at RealClear Media Group, and a senior web editor at Kaiser Health News. He 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.

Tori Fosheim

Scientific outreach manager
she/her

Tori is a neuroscientist and science communicator with a background studying how the brain functions in severe mental disorders. She completed both a Ph.D. in biological psychopathology and a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and has written about science as a blogger, journalist, and scriptwriter. In her role as scientific outreach manager, Tori applies her scientific and communications expertise to finding interview-ready scientists to connect with journalists looking for expert sources. She also leads the curriculum development and instruction of workshops aimed at increasing journalists’ understanding of science and their comfort with incorporating scientific evidence into news stories.

Becky Hazen

Deputy director for news & operations
she/her

Becky is a public affairs strategist and speechwriter with more than a decade of experience in the science, health, and environment space. At SciLine, she oversees the team that works directly with journalists to support their day-to-day reporting needs. This includes rapid response to on-deadline requests for sources, facilitation of on-camera interviews with experts, and outreach to the journalism community about events, resources, and training opportunities. Previously, Becky served in various communications roles in the federal executive branch, including Deputy Director of Strategic Communications at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Director of Speechwriting at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Most recently, she was the Chief Speechwriter at Children’s National Health System. Becky has a B.A. in environmental policy, an M.A. in earth & environmental science, and an M.S. in journalism, all from Columbia University.

Elena Renken

Editorial associate, news & multimedia
she/her

Elena is a writer and editor focused on science. At SciLine, she connects with journalists to provide them with the scientific experts and information they need. She also leads SciLine’s research and production of Quick Facts, which offer background on science topics in the news, and creates visuals for SciLine. She also helps organize on-camera interviews between scientists and journalists as part of SciLine’s Experts on Camera program and produces video clips of experts for use by reporters. Elena earned a degree in science, technology, and society at Brown University, and her work has been published by NPR, Quanta Magazine, Nautilus, and PBS “NOVA”, among other national and local outlets.

Sara Whitlock

Senior editorial associate, science news
she/her

Sara is a biologist with a background in synthetic biology and microbiology who is excited about scientific storytelling. She interacts with scientists on a variety of opportunities related to SciLine’s services for print journalists—editing and producing Quotes from Experts, facilitating expert review of Quick Facts, working with scientists to pitch the stories they submit to the Tip Line, and connecting scientists with interview opportunities on deadline. Before landing at SciLine, she bounced around the country designing antimicrobial peptides, studying a flu-like disease called Q fever, and tackling HIV replication. These experiences led her to earn an M.S. in biophysics & structural biology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied how bacteria organize their insides. While elbow deep in bacterial cultures, Sara wrote about research and her experiences as a graduate student for STAT News, Pitt Med Magazine, and Scientific American.

Mohamed Yakub

Scientific outreach manager

Mohamed is a biologist with a background in evolutionary ecology and plant genetics and a deep commitment to science outreach and education. At SciLine, Mohamed serves as a liaison with scientists when connecting them with reporters on deadline. He also leads SciLine’s production of Media Briefings, overseeing topic development, speaker selection, and event coordination. Prior to joining SciLine, Mohamed was the science outreach and education coordinator at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. He created and launched Market Science, an outreach initiative through which graduate students host hands-on booths at local farmers markets to share their scientific expertise with market-goers. Mohamed earned his Ph.D. in plant biological sciences at the University of Minnesota, where his research was on characterizing effects of urban heat islands on the evolution of plant growth and development.

Advisory Board

Nsikan Akpan

Health & science editor, New York Public Radio

Nsikan Akpan is the health & science editor at New York Public Radio (WNYC/Gothamist). Nsikan was previously at National Geographic where he worked as the science editor, overseeing COVID-19 coverage in addition to other types of science, health and technology news. Before National Geographic, he worked for more than four years at PBS NewsHour, where he co-created an award-winning video series named “ScienceScope.” He shared a 2020 Emmy for the PBS NewsHour series “Stopping a Killer Pandemic” and in 2019 received a George Foster Peabody Award for the PBS NewsHour series “The Plastic Problem.” Nsikan has also worked for NPR, Science News, Science, KUSP Central Coast Public Radio, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, and as a writer at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University. He holds a doctorate in pathobiology from Columbia University and is an alum of the science communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Nancy Baron

Director of science outreach, COMPASS Science Communication

Nancy Baron leads communication workshops for environmental scientists in academia, government, and non-governmental organizations for COMPASS. She guides scientists on how to engage in society’s conversations and to 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, 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. Since COVID-19 curtailed travel, she has been enjoying writing a local newspaper column called “In the Naturehood,” communicating science locally, as well as working with scientists  virtually, around the world. She is an adviser to the Liber Ero Fellows and Sitka Foundation in Canada.

Tracy Day

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.

Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux

Professor of climatology, University of Vermont; Vermont State Climatologist

Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux is a professor of climatology in the Department of Geography at the University of Vermont. Her work sits at the nexus of hydroclimate hazards of flooding and droughts, climate variability and change, and the use of geospatial technologies. As the state climatologist for Vermont, she engages directly with community groups, K-12 schools, state legislators, federal and state agencies, and national climate organizations. She is currently serving on the Vermont Climate Council to assist in the creation of its Climate Action Plan. She is also the president of the American Association of State Climatologists and a fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

Maggie Fox

Senior editor, CNN Health

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, 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. She is a senior editor at CNN Health, the former senior writer for NBC News, former global health and science editor for Reuters, and former health care and technology editor for National Journal.

S. James Gates Jr.

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, and he is president of the American Physical Society. 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.

Margaret Hamburg

Former commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health commissioner for New York City, and assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Hamburg is past-president and former board chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Laura Helmuth

Editor-in-chief, Scientific American

Laura Helmuth is the editor-in-chief of Scientific American and a past president of the National Association of Science Writers. She has previously worked as an editor for The Washington PostNational GeographicSlateSmithsonian, and Science magazines. She has a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley.

Bill Manny

Documentary writer/producer, Idaho Public Television

Bill Manny a writer/producer for Idaho Public Television’s documentary series, “Idaho Experience.” 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.

Kathryn Murdoch

Co-founder and president, Quadrivium Foundation

Kathryn Murdoch is co-founder and president of the Quadrivium Foundation, which supports practical, evidence-based solutions to societal problems. She is an advocate for improving science communications and is a trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund and Climate Central and is co-chair of Unite America and the Climate Leadership Council.

Kathleen Richardson

Dean, Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Kathleen Richardson is the dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Prior to earning her law degree and entering academia, Richardson worked at The Des Moines Register for 20 years in a variety of newsroom jobs, including news editor and columnist. She was the executive director of the non-profit Iowa Freedom of Information Council for 15 years. She was also a founding member of the Iowa Public Information Board, a state agency that helps enforce the open-government laws. She serves on several Iowa Newspaper Foundation committees.

Dietram Scheufele

Professor of science communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Dietram A. Scheufele is the Taylor-Bascom Chair 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, a lifetime associate of the National Research Council, 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 consulting experience includes work for DeepMind, Porter Novelli, PBS, WHO, and the World Bank.

Mark Schleifstein

Environment reporter, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

Mark Schleifstein is the environment and hurricane reporter for The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate and a leader of its 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.

Natalie Stroud

Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Arvind Suresh

Director of communications, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Arvind Suresh is the director of communications at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh. A scientist turned communicator, he previously worked in public relations at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. He also helped run the Genetic Experts News Service, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that connected reporters with experts on genetics and biotechnology issues, and he served as managing editor for SciStarter, a citizen science platform. Arvind holds a master’s degree in cell biology from the University of Pittsburgh and conducted graduate research in molecular physiology at Pitt’s School of Medicine.

Former Advisory Board Members

Alan Alda

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.

Geneva Overholser

Independent journalist; senior fellow, Democracy Fund

Geneva Overholser is a longtime newspaperwoman (The New York Times editorial board, The Washington Post ombudsman, editor of the Des Moines Register) whose last full-time gig was running the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  She now serves on boards (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, Rita Allen Foundation, Northwestern University in Qatar) and advises Democracy Fund, Report for America, Trust Project, and American Academy of Arts & Sciences Public Face of Science.