Conference 2018

Academic building with lawn

Ayres Hall, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Our annual conference offers a mix of hands-on exploration, provocative presentation, interactive discussion and camaraderie. Participants will find insights, discover resources and leave with renewed creative energy. See below for this year’s speakers.

URMA 2018, July 17-20, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Conference Program

View the detailed conference program.

Key speakers:

  • Ann Christiano, communication expert from the University of Florida, will explain what makes us care about science.
  • Richard Harris, NPR correspondent and author, will address sloppy science that often leads to unrealistic results.
  • Sam Kean, New York Times bestselling author, will provide advice on making complex topics accessible to all audiences.
  • Miriam Kramer, senior science editor at Mashable, will share her science writing experiences from the realm of digital media.
  • Brooke Thayer, communications strategist with EAB, will cover tactics for communicating the value of research.

Also, don’t miss the URMA Research Film Festival, tours of U. Tennessee laboratories, and our traditional “Fire Hose” sessions of five-minute talks from members.

More on the speakers:

Ann Christiano

Ann Christiano

The Science of What Makes Us Care About Science

Ann Christiano, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

In a sector driven by facts and data, in can be frustrating that it is so hard to capture our audience’s imagination and attention, and that many areas of scientific insight have been politicized. In this lively and hands-on session, we’ll talk about the behavioral, cognitive and social science of what makes people care, and help you apply these principals to help others communicate their research in a way that will help people understand why it matters.

Ann Christiano is the Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications and the Director of the the newly established Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida. She is also director of the frank gathering. @aechristiano

Richard Harris

Richard Harris

Sloppy Science – Unrealistic Results

Richard Harris, National Public Radio

In his book, Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions, (April 2017), Harris explores the state of biomedical research and finds that over half of studies can’t be replicated due to poor experimental design, improper methods, and sloppy statistics.

Richard Harris is a distinguished science writer who has been reporting on NPR’s flagship news programs for more than 30 years. @rrichardh



Sam Kean

Sam Kean

Spoons and Thumbs: Funny, Spooky, Poignant, and Completely True Science Stories

Sam Kean, New York Times bestselling author

Sam Kean is a bestselling author of Caesar’s Last Breath, The Disappearing Spoon, The Dueling Neurosurgeons, and The Violinist’s Thumb, all Amazon top science books of the year. He is also editing the 2018 edition of Best American Nature and Science Writing. @sam_kean




Miriam Kramer

Miriam Kramer

Miriam Kramer, Mashable

Miriam Kramer has been the resident space nerd at Mashable since 2015. She currently acts as the senior science editor for the website. Before that, she was a staff writer for for about 2.5 years. She has taken a ride in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, watched rocket boosters land on Earth after flying to space, and seen rockets launch from places around the United States.

Miriam received her Master’s degree in science, health and environmental reporting from New York University in 2012. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2011. @mirikramer



Brooke Thayer

Brooke Thayer

Telling the Story of Research: Tactics for Communicating the Value of University Research

Brooke Thayer, EAB 

Long-term growth of the research enterprise requires effective, strategic communication about the value of university-led research. With federal funding growth stagnating, universities must appeal to a broader set of stakeholders, such as corporate entities and philanthropic donors. These newer and growing sources of funding often have different interests, priorities, and levels of understanding of university research initiatives. This presentation will offer tactics for enhancing current practices and optimizing communications channels, including institutional case studies and best-in-class examples of social media campaigns, digital content, research websites, and events.

EAB is a higher-education consultant company that addresses education’s top challenges by providing peer-tested research that answers education’s most pressing issues.