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.

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.

(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.

Jennifer Weston Cox
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.

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.

Fenella SaundersFenella Saunders
Board Member
Editor-in-Chief, American Scientist magazine,
Director of Science Communications and Publications Sigma Xi 

Fenella has been a science journalist and editor for more than 22 years, covering science for American Scientist, Discover magazine, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, NYU Physician, Scholastic, The Learning Channel, and The Discovery Channel. She received an A.B. degree in computer science from Duke University and a Master’s degree in psychology and animal behavior from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

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

Katie Stember
Katie Stember
Board Member
UNC Grad Student, Founder
Scientists of North Carolina
Katie is a fourth year PhD student at UNC studying T cells in autoimmunity. Outside of research, she started a project called Scientists of North Carolina that aims to break down stereotypes around scientists and bridge the gap between scientists and their communities.

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.


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