Conference 2016 Program


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Tuesday, July 5

9:15 a.m.-4:15 p.m.

Research shipEducational excursion to Harbor Campus

Take the URMA UWM shuttle to the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences’ stunning, state-of-the-art Harbor Campus for a tour of the only university in the United States dedicated to the study of freshwater sciences. From there, it’s all aboard the SS Neeskay, the school’s trusty research vessel. Take a 45-minute tour of the university’s largest laboratory, mighty Lake Michigan. One bonus stop is in the works.

Noontime, you’ll be back on dry land and reboarding the URMA shuttle for lunch at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Dry off from your lake cruise, debrief with your mates and dine on some of the finest foods that this Milwaukee icon can offer. Once the coffee starts flowing, we’ll learn how Harley-Davidson’s award-winning communication team cultivates the image and shares the stories that great brands – and a century-plus of consumer loyalty – are made of. Take in the Harley-Davidson experience for yourself with an all-access tour. 


Corporate storytelling: promoting an iconic brand

Harley-Davidson is one of the world’s most recognized and well-known brands, but what’s the story behind the story? Keeping a legion of established and new audiences excited and engaged can be tricky business. In this talk, learn how the company successfully continues to inspire its followers and fans through effective storytelling.

Sean Zielinski

Sean Zielinski, Director of Corporate, Regional and Dealer Communication for Harley-Davidson, leads a globally deployed team charged with building company and brand advocacy among the company’s most influential stakeholders, the media, its employees and dealers. Sean’s experience includes providing strategic business communication counsel to executive leadership, speechwriting for the C-suite and creating award-winning live and socially driven new product launch experiences. Sean joined Harley-Davidson in 2005. His prior work experience includes marketing communications, agency management and television news reporting. Sean earned his B.A. in Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and his MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.




7-9 p.m.

Dinner with your UWM host

Join your UWM hosts Michelle Johnson, Howie Magner and Angela McManaman for dinner outings at three unique, only-in-Milwaukee establishments. No, you can’t pick all three. Details to come re: these pay-your-own way dinner groups. Howie knows a lot about sports. Angela knows a lot about Milwaukee. Michelle knows a lot about journalism. 


Wednesday, July 6

9:00-9:30 a.m.

Conference registration and caffeination at UWM Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health 


9:30-10:30 a.m.

Break Through the Clutter: Science Stories That Get Noticed

Whether you’re aiming at in-house readers or the general public, this session will give you ideas on how to write to engage your readers, and how to make difficult-to-approach topics understandable and appealing. Pick up some tips for the art of the pitch, such as whether to focus on a topic or specific story, and how to find the right outlet for what you have. See examples of winners and sinners – what’s effective and what is not in a story proposal.


Marilynn Marchione is chief medical writer for the Associated Press. Marilynn joined the Associated Press in 2004 after 28 years as a reporter and editor at metropolitan daily newspapers, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio. As the AP’s chief medical writer, she covers national medical meetings and looks for consumer-oriented stories from science journals and other sources with an eye for “news you can use.” In 2010, she won the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science writing, awarded by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and her work has been recognized by the Associated Press Managing Editors Association as well as health and medical organizations. She has had numerous fellowships, including a four-month Knight fellowship on field epidemiology at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She earned a degree in journalism from Kent State University.




Design Panel

Your publication is only as good as it looks, from the first glance at its cover to the last story in the book. But especially that first glance at the cover. That’s where our panel of experts begins their conversation, examining how cover concepts come together, what makes them work, and how they’re executed. They’ll also examine interior design, with a particular emphasis on making feature packages pop. Panelists represent a range of viewpoints, including the award-winning former art director of Milwaukee Magazine, as well as the art director at an URMA-member institution and the editor in chief of Discover Magazine.

Becky Lang


Becky Lang is editor in chief of Discover magazine, where she’s worked since early 2013. She moved to the magazine world from newspapers after 11 years as the health/science/environment editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She’s been writing and editing as a job since high school, where she covered minor league baseball in Helena, Montana. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University. She loves skiing, hiking, running and camping with her 12-year-old son, and hanging out with their two dogs.




Kathryn Lavey


Kathryn Lavey is an art director and graphic designer living and working in Milwaukee. She is currently the graphic design manager for VISIT Milwaukee, the chief image and tourism marketing organization of the greater Milwaukee area. Before exploring the tourism industry, Kathryn served as art director at Milwaukee Magazine, where she orchestrated a redesign and was named a finalist for Cover Excellence by the City and Regional Magazine Association. She also worked with San Francisco-based alcohol enthusiast publication Drink Me Magazine and continues to freelance for editorial publications.




Tricia Perea


Tricia Perea is art director at Augusta University, a public research university and medical center with campuses and satellite locations across Georgia. Tricia’s team is re-creating the newly rebranded organization’s alumni publications and news presence. Within the past year, that’s meant developing and launching a new institutional news site, a digital magazine site and a redesigned flagship alumni magazine. Augusta University’s redesigned research magazine will launch in January. Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in informational graphic design.




1:45-3 p.m.

Writing. Editing! Managing?

The good writer gets promoted to be the new editor. The good editor is promoted into management. But writing well doesn’t necessarily equate to editing well. And editing well doesn’t necessarily equate to managing well. How do folks successfully navigate such career ladders and labyrinths? Our panelists speak from experience.

Becky Lang


Becky Lang is editor in chief of Discover magazine, where she’s worked since early 2013. She moved to the magazine world from newspapers after 11 years as the health/science/environment editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She’s been writing and editing as a job since high school, where she covered minor league baseball in Helena, Montana. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University. She loves skiing, hiking, running and camping with her 12-year-old son, and hanging out with their two dogs.




Kurt Chandler


Kurt Chandler, the past editor of Milwaukee Magazine, is a former newspaper reporter, magazine writer, and the author of several books. A long-form journalist, he is drawn to stories about complex issues and complex characters, and specializes in investigative articles, profiles, narratives and essays. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and now lives just outside Milwaukee, his hometown.





Catherine Zandonella


Catherine Zandonella is the communications manager in the Office of the Dean for Research at Princeton University and the editor of Princeton’s annual research magazine. Prior to working at Princeton, Catherine was a freelance science writer for magazines such as New Scientist and National Geographic’s Green Guide. She earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley and a science writing certificate at the University of California at Santa Cruz.




3:15-4:30 p.m.

Photography Panel

What goes into a photo that truly connects with its audience? How do you marry complex research concepts with eye-catching photography? And can our esteemed panel of award-winning photographers get through this session without using the “1,000 words” cliché? Find out as the staff photographer at Milwaukee Magazine, a senior photographer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the photo editor at Discover magazine give us a fly-in-the-wall look at some of their best photography.

Ernie Mastroianni


Ernie Mastroianni is the photo editor at Discover magazine. He’s been a photojournalism professional for many years, working as a photographer and editor for Associated Press, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, BirdWatching magazine and now Discover. In the process, he’s become adept at digital photography editing, digital workflow, web publishing and search engine optimization techniques.




Adam Ryan Morris


Adam Ryan Morris is the staff photographer at Milwaukee Magazine, where he creates images that thread believable narrative around a core of authentic human emotion, whether working with real people or hired talent. Since 2011, he’s balanced commercial and editorial freelance work with his role at Milwaukee Magazine. His work has also appeared in such disparate publications as ESPN The Magazine and Motor Trend, and he’s earned a Communication Arts Award of Excellence three years running.




Jeff Miller


Jeff Miller is senior photographer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has been crafting storytelling and iconic images of UW-Madison and its people for the past 25 years. Miller’s work has been published in national publications including The New York Times, Newsweek, TIME, USA Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education,,, NPR, Science, Nature, Discovery, and countless professional journals, as well as consumer magazines, research journals and educational textbooks. Miller has been named Photographer of the Year multiple times by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, a national organization of communications professionals in higher education. He is an active member of the University Photographers’ Association of America (UPAA) and a regular volunteer photographer for Flashes of Hope, a national organization that offers uplifting portraits of children battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.



5-7 p.m.

URMA Opening Night Reception at Newsroom Pub

Wind down the day with appetizers and drinks in one of Milwaukee’s most history-laden establishments. Home of the Milwaukee Press Club – the longest continually operating press club in North America – the Newsroom Pub evokes the classic nostalgia of a Milwaukee tavern. Its walls are adorned with the framed signatures of celebrities, politicians, athletes and other luminaries, from Teddy Roosevelt to Hank Aaron. We’re pretty sure it’s the only place in the world you’ll find glass enclosures featuring a petrified cat (Aniubs, the Milwaukee Press Club’s Sacred Cat mascot) and an ancient writing tool (accompanied by an explanatory note stating “This is a Typewriter”). The Milwaukee Press Club’s Jim Nelson will give brief remarks about the Newsroom Pub’s history, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Page Editor David Haynes will speak about the relationship between public opinion and science policy.


Thursday, July 7


9:15-10:15 a.m.

Why science and journalism are mutually incompatible

and why that doesn’t mean all is lost

A fundamental value in journalism is that the newest thing is by definition the most important thing. In science, by contrast, the newest thing is almost always the least important thing, or close to it: Science is an unfinished edifice to which scientists keep adding small bricks one at a time. And unlike cement bricks, these bricks of knowledge are the most tentative, since new results often go away on closer examination. If astronomists find the largest black hole ever, it’s of minimal interest to the scientists – but it’s exactly what news editors will want to talk about. It’s even worse in medicine. Whether or not the black hole even exists won’t change anyone’s life, but a compound that cured something sorta like Alzheimer’s disease (but not really the same) in a mouse raises hopes in millions of people, and gets the editor’s attention, even though it probably won’t work in humans. Michael Lemonick talks about how journalists struggle with this conundrum, and how we (sometimes) rise above it.

Michael Lemonick


Michael D. Lemonick is a journalist, author and educator. He spent more than 20 years on the staff of Time, where he wrote more than 50 cover stories about virtually every area of science. He is now an editor at Scientific American and has written as a freelancer for National Geographic, Scientific American, Wired, Smithsonian, Discover, New Scientist, the New Yorker website and more. Lemonick is the author of six books, and teaches science journalism at Princeton.




10:30-11:15 a.m.

Science Communication Through Collaboration

Scientists can increase the impact of their work by building broad and diverse networks of collaborators. Work with communication professionals as well as with educators, artists, and other scientists can lead to interesting and impactful results. It is challenging to work in interdisciplinary partnerships but the rewards are great. Joey Shapiro Key walks URMANs through examples of successful science communication via collaboration, including the Science Festival Alliance, the Black (W)hole art+science project, and the 1000+ member LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

Joey Shapiro Key


Joey Shapiro Key is an assistant professor of physics at the University of Washington Bothell and serves as the Chair of the LIGO Education and Public Outreach committee. She has a BA in Astrophysics from Williams College and a PhD in Physics from Montana State University, with a dissertation in gravitational wave astronomy data analysis and parameter estimation. She previously served as the Education Specialist for the Montana Space Grant Consortium and as the Director of Education and Outreach for the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.




11:30-12:45 LUNCH



How to Pull off a Successful Research Event on a Shoestring Budget

Every year, the National MagLab (National High Magnetic Field Laboratory) hosts an enormous open house for about the same amount of money you spent to attend URMA ’16 at UW-Milwaukee. For about $1,000, MagLab educates and entertains thousands with 90 hands-on demonstrations, several performances and a half dozen food trucks. Find out how to motivate a volunteer workforce, generate fresh ideas, milk those partnerships and make the most of the (very modest) resources you already have.

Kristen CoyneKristin Roberts


Co-presented by Kristin Roberts, National MagLab director of public affairs and Kristen Coyne, National MagLab web editor.








How to tell a One in a Billion story

Operating on a tip, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher discovered a career-changing story – the tale of a group of Milwaukee-area doctors and scientists, unlikely pioneers in bringing DNA sequencing into the clinic to diagnose and save a dying boy. The reporters knew early on, however, that to make a good story a great story they would have to reach the boy and his family. Johnson and Gallagher discuss how to combine very technical science with human drama to deliver stories that help readers understand complex, but important advances. Their series about the little boy who would be the first patient in the world to be sequenced for diagnosis won them the Pulitzer Prize and led to a recently-published book, “One in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine.


Mark Johnson


Mark Johnson is a health and science reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he has worked since 2000. He lives with his wife and son in Fox Point, Wisconsin.





Kathleen Gallagher


Kathleen Gallagher has been a business reporter at the Journal Sentinel since 1993. She lives with her husband and two children in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. They were the reporters on the Journal Sentinel team that won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting on the Nic Volker story in 2011. Mark is also a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.





3-4:30 p.m.
URMA Fire Hose Sessions: URMA Members Share Great Ideas in Five Minutes (or Less)


6:30-11:30 p.m.
URMA Night at Summerfest
Grab a $20 bill to cover admission and hop the UWM URMA shuttle to Summerfest, which is also known as the world’s largest music festival. Here’s why: On July 7 alone, you can see the following acts performing up and down one slice of Milwaukee’s gorgeous lakefront:

  • Luke Bryan
  • Cheap Trick
  • The Decemberists
  • Kool and the Gang
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  • Violent Femmes

By the way, this was just the short list of performers. Also, the fried food, local brews, lakefront views and people-watching are unparalleled. See you at Summerfest.


Friday, July 8      


9-10:15 a.m.

Making Waves: Announcing LIGO’s Black Hole Discovery

Take a behind-the-scenes look at a major international science story that was 100 years and 1,000 partners in the making through the eyes of four URMA-affiliated institutions whose scientists helped make the story. Learn from four URMAns who lead communication and research operations at their respective institutions about their painstaking preparations to break the story – and celebrate their successful outcomes in this 100 percent URMA panel.

  • Kathryn Jepsen, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Joe Kays, University of Florida
  • Joey Key, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Joseph McClain, College of William & Mary
  • Ligo Scientist TBD, UW-Milwaukee


10:30-11:30 a.m. URMA Business Meeting


11:30-11:45 a.m. URMA Photo



URMAns are encouraged to bring their luggage to Friday’s sessions, then leave directly from UWM’s Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex at 3135 N. Maryland Ave. to catch flights out of General Mitchell International Airport. The trip will take about 20 minutes, not including loading and unloading time on the shuttle of your choice.