Conference 2017 Program

URMA 2017 Conference Program

Hosted by Brown University


Tuesday, August 1

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

8:30am: Bus departs from Hampton Inn for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Location: Hampton Inn, 58 Weybosset Street (all addresses are in Providence)

Lunch at Woods Hole

5pm (approximate): Return to Hampton Inn


Dinner on own, restaurant suggestions to be provided


8:15pm: Leave Hampton Inn by hotel bus or other taxi/rideshare transport for optional trip to Ladd Observatory (1.5 miles from hotel)

8:30-9:45pm: Tour the museum at Ladd Observatory (built in 1891). Take in the view through the main telescope and others to see sights including Jupiter and Saturn. If cloudy, the tour of museum will be held but there will be no viewing.

Location: Ladd Observatory, 210 Doyle Avenue


8-11pm: Hospitality room at Hampton Inn

Meet old friends and make new ones.


Brown Faculty Club

Wednesday, August 2

9am: Conference welcome from Noel Rubinton of Brown University

Location: Brown Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street (10-minute walk from hotel)


9:15-10:30am: Research Communication in the Time of Trump and Political Activism

In these unpredictable and hyper-partisan times, figuring out communication strategy and tactics is newly complicated and needs new approaches. Panelists are Geoffrey Supran, joint Harvard-MIT postdoc and environmental activist; Megan Ranney, Brown University emergency physician and researcher, who focuses on the intersection between digital health and injury prevention, and is a firearm injury prevention activist; and Timmons Roberts, Brown sociology professor affiliated with the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, and an environmental activist.

Location: Brown Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street


10:45am-Noon: Are There Two Sides to Every Issue?

Our presenter is Ken Miller, a senior Brown University biologist and leading science advocate who has participated in many debates about evolution and intelligent design.

Location: Brown Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street


12:15-1:15pm: Lunch

Location: Brown Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street


1:30-3:15pm: Using Data Well

With far greater access to data and much increased interest in its use, communicators face the challenge, and opportunity, of using it well. Panelists are four data experts: Neil Sarkar, director of the Brown Center for Biomedical Informatics; Lucia Monge, operations and engagement coordinator of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Nature Lab; Rafael Attias, senior critic, RISD; and Tom Sgouros, manager of the Brown University Virtual Reality Lab.

Location: Digital Scholarship Lab of the Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street (5-minute walk from Brown Faculty Club)


3:30-4:45pm: Undark and Beyond

David Corcoran talks about his work in communicating about science, first in journalism as the longtime editor of Science Times at the New York Times and now as associate director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT and senior editor of the unconventional online magazine Undark: Truth, Beauty, Science.

Location: Digital Scholarship Lab of the Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street




5-7pm: Conference reception

At the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM). Includes drinks and appetizers.

Location: 121 South Main Street, 11th floor (about a 5-minute walk from Rockefeller Library, also a 5-minute walk from hotel)


Dinner on own, restaurant suggestions to be provided


8-11pm: Hospitality room at Hampton Inn


Faunce House

Faunce House

Thursday, August 3

9-9:30am: URMA Survey: The State of Our Art

URMA conducted a groundbreaking, comprehensive survey of its membership this year to get a better sense of best practices and industry practices. Catherine Zandonella of Princeton and Michelle Johnson University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who designed the survey with Louise Walsh of the University of Cambridge, will present the results.

Location: Petteruti Lounge, 2nd floor of Faunce House, 75 Waterman Street


9:30-10:15am: Fire Hose

Presentations of 5 minutes (or less) from URMA members, on topics that include starting a new magazine, making a Facebook Live video, and creating a digital campaign.

Location: Petteruti Lounge, 2nd floor of Faunce House, 75 Waterman Street


10:30-11:45am: The Power of Narrative Writing

Meera Subramanian, who is an award-winning journalist, former Knight Science fellow at MIT, and author of A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis, speaks about how narrative writing can make a crucial difference in translating science and other research-based subjects.

Location: Petteruti Lounge, 2nd floor of Faunce House, 75 Waterman Street


11:45am-12:15pm (optional): Poster session of Brown Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium

Location: Sayles Hall on Main Green (2-minute walk from Faunce House)


Lunch on own on Thayer Street (near Film Festival site), restaurant suggestions to be provided


1-2:30pm: URMA Research Film Festival

Location: Avon Cinema, 260 Thayer Street


2:30-4:45pm: Research lab visits

All tours will leave from the Avon Cinema lobby with a guide, at conclusion of film program

Each tour will involve at least two different sites in sequence. The pairings:

A tour of the Warren Alpert Medical School, along with a Superfund lab that focuses on complex environmental contaminant issues and a toxicology lab.

Two neuroscience labs: Karla Kaun’s uses the fruit fly to understand the neural and molecular mechanisms of reward, including in alcohol addiction. Chris Moore’s lab studies neocortical dynamics. Limited space available.

A visit to two gems at the Rhode Island School of Design (which shares College Hill with Brown). The RISD Nature Lab offers authentic natural history specimens to work from, and also fosters creative inquiry into design, ecology, and climate change through high-end microscopes, high-speed cameras, and other advanced imaging systems. The RISD Museum is a principal art museum for southeastern New England with an acclaimed collection and curatorial and research staff, and the tour will have a focus on academic research and interpretive strategies.

David Borton’s engineering/brain science lab, through BrainGate and other projects, is designing and deploying neurotechnology to better understand the nervous system and improve human lives. The YURT Virtual Reality Lab is a state-of-the-art theater used for research across disciplines. Limited space available.

A separate communication to come soon will give more details on sites and explain how you can give your preferences.


5:30-6:30pm (optional): URMA Book Club discussion

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, moderated by Laura Miller of UCLA. Light refreshments provided. We’ll be joined by some faculty members of Brown’s First Readings selection committee.

Location:  2nd floor of Faunce House, 75 Waterman Street

Dinner on own, restaurant suggestions to be provided


8:30pm (optional): Group trip to the Boombox karaoke lounge downtown at Dean Hotel

Location: 122 Fountain Street (a 10-minute walk from Hampton Inn)


8-11pm: Hospitality room at Hampton Inn



Friday, August 4

Water Fire

Water Fire

9-10am: Lighting Fires

Barnaby Evans is the creator of WaterFire, an award-winning fire sculpture installation on the three rivers in downtown Providence. Since its start in 1994, WaterFire has been seen by millions of people in Providence, and has been credited with being a major force behind Providence’s renaissance. WaterFire has also been installed around the United States and Europe. Evans will talk about the creative process, research, and communication. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental science from Brown. (Note: the next WaterFire is tomorrow, August 5).

Location: Brown Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street


10:15-11:30am: Nuts and Bolts

Discussion of research communications issues, including continuing discussion of of URMA’s membership survey, with emcee John Toon of Georgia Tech.

Location: Brown Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street


11:30am-Noon: URMA business meeting

With URMA President Joe Kays of University of Florida presiding.

Location: Brown Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street


Noon: Adjourn

Box lunch to be provided at Faculty Club; eat there or take it with you.