Who We Are

SCONC is a professional organization founded in April 2007 in the Research Triangle of North Carolina to provide fellowship and networking among folks who bring science to the public.

We include science writers, journalists, public information officers, teachers and institutional communicators working in universities, government labs, industry, museums and schools — just about anyone interested in communicating science.

SCONC Board of Directors


Karl Leif Bates
Founding Board Member
Director of Research Communications at Duke University
A former newspaper reporter specializing in science, medicine and environment, Karl heads research communications from Duke’s Office of News and Communications.

Thania BeniosThania Benios
Board Member
Health and Science Editor

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Thania Benios comes to North Carolina after spending eight years as a science writer in New York City. She is currently the health and science editor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she coordinates coverage of cool research news across campus.

Marla BroadfootMarla Vacek Broadfoot
Board President
Freelance Science Writer and Editor
Marla Vacek Broadfoot is a geneticist-turned science writer who specializes in biomedical research. She currently serves as a contributing editor at American Scientist and a columnist at the Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer. She is the author of  “A Place at the Bench:  Women in Biomedical Research.”

Chris Brodie(Ex Officio) Chris Brodie
Cofounder, Founding Board Member, SCONC
Scientific Liaison at Bioventus
Chris is a molecular biologist and former staffer at American Scientist magazine. As a Fulbright Scholar in Oslo, he helped with science communications for the inaugural Kavli Prizes.

Christine Brown Ph.D.Christine Brown
Board Member
Postdoctoral Researcher
Dr. Brown is an ecologist and science communicator at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. She develops citizen science projects for Students Discover, where researchers and teachers create lesson plans based on science with unknown answers. She is also an audio producer for feministscientists.org.

(Ex Officio) Russ Campbell
Cofounder, Founding Board Member, SCONC
Senior Communications Officer
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Campbell is an advocate and supporter of science communication and public understanding of science projects.  Follow him on twitter at @razoobe.

Ernie Hood
Ernie Hood
President Emeritus
Founding Board Member
Freelance Science Writer, Editor, and Podcaster
Hood is based in Hillsborough, North Carolina. He hosts a weekly science radio show, Radio In Vivo: Your Link to the Triangle Science Community.

Holly L. Menninger, PhDHolly Menninger
Board Secretary
Director of Public Science for the College of Sciences
North Carolina State University
An entomologist by training, Dr. Menninger is a science communicator by passion and practice.

Abby Olena, PhDAbby Olena
Board Member
Freelance Science Writer and SciComm Trainer
A lapsed developmental biologist, Abby writes about science and leads communication workshops for scientists.


Tamara_hedshotTamara Poles
Board Member
Community Engagement Specialist
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
Tamara is a biologist and environmental scientist by training but uses her skills to conduct science outreach as an informal educator for museums and science centers. Now that she has earned her Master’s Degree in Education, she uses her education and experience to train scientists and STEM professionals in science communication. She also coordinates community events across North Carolina to enable scientists to hone their skills in public communication while allowing the public to interact with scientists in their community and learn about valuable research. Tamara has developed and currently manages the IMPACTS program at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.

Robin Smith
Robin Smith
Board Member
Science Writer
Duke News and Communications
Robin is a Scientist-turned-science writer at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, N.C., where she writes about life in the deep  sea, atop the world’s highest mountains, and everywhere in between.

Jamie L. Vernon PhDJamie L. Vernon, Ph.D.
Board Treasurer
Director of Science Communications and Publications at Sigma Xi, Editor-in-Chief, American Scientist magazine
Jamie, a molecular biologist by training, transitioned over the last decade from the research bench to science policy and communication. He currently oversees all science communications for Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, including publication of the Society’s precollegiate research journal, Chronicle of the New Researcher, and its award winning magazine, American Scientist.

Jory Weintraub Ph.D.Jory Weintraub
Board Member
Science Communication Director
Duke Initiative for Science & Society
Jory received a PhD in Immunology from UNC Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) and has spent the last 16 years working in science education/outreach/communication.  In his current position, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in science communication at Duke University and runs science communication workshops for Duke faculty and postdocs.

Jennifer Weston
Board Member, SCONC

Director of Communications
College of Engineering, North Carolina State University
As director, Weston is responsible for marketing, media relations, graphic design, Web site design and management, and other communications projects.

Anton Zuiker
Founding Board Member, SCONC
Director of Communications
Duke University Department of Medicine
Anton is a journalist, blogger and community builder, he lives in Carrboro, N.C.

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