Baby SCONCs Testing Their Legs

We’re proud to announce nine new student members of SCONC, all students of the North Carolina School of Math and Science in Durham, who have produced a series of blog posts on Duke researchers for the Duke Research Blog.  NCSSM Dean of Science Amy Sheck, at right, leads this after-school elective on science communication. The posts will run every day or so starting Dec. 28.


SCONC godfather and co-founder Russ Campbell of  the Burroughs Wellcome Fund provided the official SCONC pins, which the students proudly donned.


Posted in SCONC, Students | Leave a comment

Fear and Resistance – Motorco in Durham, Dec. 13

Please join Duke’s Science and Society program for a double-header event! 

Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7 – 8p.m. @Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave, Durham

Periodic Tables: Car crashes! Death! Cancer! Crime! Things We Fear and How Science Can Help

Fear continues to consume our daily lives: Fear of cancer, fear of crime, and other different pathways that ultimately lead us to death. How do we minimize its looming presence? And how do we do it with science?

Xiaoyin “Sara” Jiang, MD, of Duke Health, Amber Beckley, PhD, Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke, Nrupen Bhavsar, PhD, MPH, of Duke University School of Medicine, and Michael Clamann, PhD, of Duke Robotics and Science & Society’s Science Policy Tracking Program will discuss different ways science can alleviate the things we fear.

Presentation Topics & More Detail

Tuesday, Dec. 13, 8:15 – 9:30 p.m. @Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave, Durham

Film Series: “Resistance”

fireshot-screen-capture-30-resistanceAntibiotic resistance is a growing concern around the world; in September, a United Nations high-level meeting was called to address the topic; experts worry that gonorrhea will be completely resistant to current treatments within the decade; and we have seen the arrival of resistant strains of disease never before identified in the United States in the past few years.

 Join us for a screening of the documentary film Resistance and a discussion with experts in infectious disease and the environmental causes of the increasing antimicrobial resistance rates.

Event Link

Posted in cafe, Event | Leave a comment

Science in the Movies: BUGS! !

Weasley bugPlease join us for “BUGS: FEAR, FASCINATION AND FANTASY”, a free and open-to-the-public event at NC State University.

7 -8:30 p.m Tuesday, September 13th
in the James B. Hunt Jr. Library Auditorium
at NC State University’s Centennial Campus

This is the second event in the “Science in the Movies” series which is organized and sponsored by the Science Communicators of North Carolina (SCONC) and NCSU Libraries.

In advance of the NC Museum of Natural Science’s annual “Bugfest”, join a panel of experts as they show and discuss clips from their favorite film insects, bugs and creepy crawlers, and explore why they have long been the objects of fearfascination and fantasy.

Note: Some of the clips presented may not be suitable for young children. We’re talking creepy.

Panelists include:

  • Holly Menninger (Entomologist and Director of Public Science, NC State University College of Sciences)
  • Marsha Gordon (Prof. of Film Studies at NC State University, and a regular contributor to WUNC’s “Movies on the Radio” segment)
  • Matt Bertone (Entomologist and NCSU Extension Associate)
  • Alper Bozkurt (NCSU Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and designer of “cyborg cockroaches”)

The discussion will be hosted/moderated by Brian Malow (the “Science Comedian”).

More info:, or contact Jory Weintraub (


Posted in Event, SCONC | Leave a comment

Journalism Conference to Explore ‘Climate City’

SCONC has secured an Idea Grant from the National Association of Science Writers to host MEASURE LOCALLY, RESPOND GLOBALLY,  a two-day conference for journalists in Asheville, August 15 and 16, 2016. Print

We’ll see a NOAA data repository in downtown Asheville that is one of the world’s largest collections of weather and climate data, including hand-written weather records from the 1840s, and downloads from satellites on orbit this very minute. We’ll show reporters how to tap into the ultimate in “Big Data.”

We’ll also tour a hydrology lab that has been collecting measurements of streams and forests continuously for 80 years and a seed bank that is preserving native species against the coming challenges of human settlement and climate change.

A two-block stroll from the NOAA facility, we’ll visit with local entrepreneurs who have established The Collider, an entrepreneurial incubator that is betting on climate intelligence — mining and analyzing this priceless collection of data — to build “a trillion-dollar climate resilience industry.”

The discussion in Asheville isn’t about whether the climate is changing, but rather what societies and governments can do about it. Please consider joining the conference to learn more about “Climate City” and the next chapter in the climate story. Please visit the conference site or send us a question.

Jared Kay


Posted in Event, SCONC | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Science on the Campaign Trail – April 13, 7 p.m. The Frontier


SciFactsARTA signature North Carolina Science Festival event 

7 pm April 13 @ The Frontier in RTP

Hosts: The North Carolina Newsroom Cooperative and

Science Communicators of North Carolina (SCONC) 

If facts are the first casualty in a campaign, science may be the subject with the highest body count. False assumptions, misleading data, inaccurate claims abound in the effort to sway voters and influence public policy. What’s a journalist to do? How about a voter? Come hear pros devoted to sorting fact from fiction in political discourse consider the challenges this feisty election year.



• Bill Adair, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of Politifact; Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
• Eugene Kiely, director,
• Laura Leslie, Capital Bureau chief, WRAL-TV
• Sheril Kirshenbaum, executive director,; director, The Energy Poll, University of Texas at Austin


• Susan King, Dean, UNC School of Media and Journalism

7 pm @ The Frontier, 800 Park Offices Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC. 

Arrive early to snag good seats. Food trucks and beer will be available.

Posted in Event, SCONC | Leave a comment

The Story Behind the Story

Duke Science & Society’s Distinguished Speakers Series welcomes award-winning New York Times journalist Gina Kolata

5 p.m. Tuesday, March 22

Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education

Great Hall

(Reception to Follow)


 GinaKolata flier

Posted in Event, SCONC | Leave a comment

Science In the Movies

SCONC invites you to attend SCIENCE IN THE MOVIES

SciMovie flierMonday, March 14
7 p.m.
Hunt Library Auditorium on NC State’s Centennial Campus

A panel of scientists and a film scholar will share and discuss clips from some of Hollywood’s best space and space exploration movies — both serious and not: A Trip to the Moon (1902); Destination Moon (1950); 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Star Wars (1977); Galaxy Quest (1999); and Interstellar (2014).

Our panel includes:
Dr. Marsha Gordon, film scholar and professor of English at NC State
Dr. Patrick Treuthardt , assistant head of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences/Nature Research Center
Dr. Larry Silverberg, professor of Aerospace Engineering at NC State
Moderated by the “Science Comedian” Brian Malow, curator of the “Daily Planet” theater at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences/Nature Research Center.

This program is a collaboration of NCSU Libraries and the Science Communicators of North Carolina. Light refreshments will be served.

Free and open to the public.

Posted in Event, SCONC | Leave a comment

Oct. 17 Panel on Women in STEM

The Chapel Hill AAUW invites educators, parents, students and local employers to join us on October 17, 10-11:30 AM at the Chapel Hill Public Library to learn more about how we can successfully engage girls and young women in the study and professional practice of STEM.

A panel of local public school educators and university STEM program leaders will offer insights into why this is an important issue for our children and communities. Based on their research and experience, panel members will discuss promising approaches and practices. We encourage those with experience in STEM studies or careers to attend so that you can share ideas for how community members, parents and educators can promote girls’ positive perceptions and successful academic preparation in STEM. We know this is an area of growing opportunity for those seeking personal fulfillment and interested in making professional contributions.

Consistent with the AAUW mission, this event is designed to provide both an opportunity for those invested in this issue to become more informed as well as a way to network.

For more information about AAUW please go to

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Event: Shipman’s Handbook for PIOs

Please join SCONC on Oct. 13 at 5:30 p.m. to celebrate the launch of Matt Shipman’s Handbook for Science Public Information Officers. Mr. Shipman is a public information officer at North Carolina State University.

The event will be held at Tra’Li Irish Pub and Restaurant in Morrisville.

Matt Shipman, NCSUWhether sharing a spectacular shot from a deep-space probe, announcing a development in genetic engineering, or crafting an easy-to-reference list of cancer risk factors, science public information officers, or PIOs, serve as scientific liaisons, connecting academic, nonprofit, government, and other research organizations with the public. And as traditional media outlets cut back on their science coverage, PIOs are becoming a vital source for science news.

W. Matthew Shipman’s Handbook for Science Public Information Officers covers all aspects of communication strategy and tactics for members of this growing specialty. It includes how to pitch a story, how to train researchers to navigate interviews, how to use social media effectively, and how to respond to a crisis. The handbook offers a wealth of practical advice while teaching science PIOs how to think critically about what they do and how they do it, so that they will be prepared to take advantage of any situation, rather than being overwhelmed by it.

For all science communicators—whether they’re starting their careers, crossing over from journalism or the research community, or professional communicators looking to hone their PIO skills—Shipman’s Handbook for Science Public Information Officers will become their go-to reference.

Posted in books, Event, SCONC | Leave a comment

Pizza Lunch: Cyber-Dogs and Robo-Roaches!

Our next pizza lunch features Alper Bozkurt, an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University.

He makes “biobots” — cockroaches and trained dogs wirelessly guided by microsystems that provide neural stimulation and physiological monitoring. The result is a “cyber-physical working animal.”

Bionic-equipped trained dogs and untrained insects.

Bionic-equipped trained dogs and untrained insects.

Noon, Thursday, Sept. 17

At the Frontier in RTP Park Center (across NC-54 from the former location at Sigma Xi) 800 Park Offices Dr., Research Triangle Park, NC 27709



The present day technology falls short in offering autonomous mobile robots that can function effectively and efficiently under unknown and dynamic environmental conditions. Insects and canines, on the other hand, exhibit an unmatched ability to navigate through a wide variety of environments and overcome perturbations by successfully maintaining control and stability. In this talk, Dr. Alper Bozkurt will present how microsystems based neural stimulation and physiological monitoring systems are used to wirelessly navigate cockroaches and train dogs to enable cyber-physical working animals. These biobots can potentially assist humans in environmental sensing and search-and-rescue applications to pinpoint hazardous material or to find earthquake victims. This is one of the on-going efforts under Integrated Bionic MicroSystems Laboratory (iBionicS Lab) which has a vision to introduce conceptually novel neural engineering methodologies and systems to interface artificial systems with biological organisms towards the next generation bionic cyber-physical systems. Such cyber-physical systems would be the building blocks of a new era where everything is connected to each other through the Internet of Things.


Alper Bozkurt is currently an Assistant Professor in Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University. He received a doctorate degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY (advisor: Prof. Amit Lal) and master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Bozkurt is the founder and the director of Integrated Bionic MicroSystems Laboratory at NC State where his current research interests include development of microscale sensors, actuators and methodologies to unlock the mysteries of biological systems with an aim of engineering these systems directly or developing new engineering approaches by learning from these. These cell level and organism level biological systems include metamorphic sensory neurons, developing motoneurons, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Carolina sphinx moths, canines, lemurs and humans. His recent research achievements with biobots were covered by several media agencies including BBC, CNN, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Science Channel, Newsweek and Reuters. In parallel to his studies, he also worked as an official consultant for the Disney movie “G-Force” produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and participated to Smart America Challenge organized by the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. Dr. Bozkurt is a recipient of the Calhoun Fellowship from Drexel University, Donald Kerr Award at Cornell University, Chancellor’s Innovation Award and William F. Lane Outstanding Teacher Award at North Carolina State University and the best paper award from The US Government Microcircuit Applications & Critical Technology Conference and IEEE Body Sensor Networks Conference. Dr. Bozkurt is also the testbed leader under The National Science Foundation Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST).

Posted in American Scientist, Event, SCONC | Leave a comment