URMA 2019 will be held at the University of Houston from July 23-26.

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. 

Conference Registration:

Three-Day Conference, July 24-26: $275

  • The three-day conference includes sessions on the public perception of science, pitching to the media, storytelling, podcasting, and engaging faculty in science outreach. View the speakers below.
  • The conference will also include:
    • “Fire hose” 5-minute talks where URMA members can present a recent initiative, approach, or experience
    • Nuts & Bolts, a freewheeling session aimed at sharing and solving some of the thorniest challenges that plague research communicators
    • Our annual URMA film festival featuring research videos from our members

Four-Day Conference, July 23-26, including NASA trip: $300

NOTE: Limited to the first 25 registrants. REGISTRATION CLOSED.

  • The four-day option includes all of the above plus an excursion to an institution charged with making research exciting for the public. This option also provides extra time to get to know and learn from your URMA colleagues.
  • Our pre-conference trip is tentatively scheduled to NASA Johnson Space Center during the historic 50th anniversary of the lunar landing. While an exciting time to be at NASA, it will be very busy for their public relations and events teams. They are working with us on a tentative plan for a visit. If plans fall through, we will visit another of the research institutions in the Houston area.

Conference Program


John Lienhard, Ph.D., author and voice of NPR’s Engines of Our Ingenuity, will address the role of storytelling in our communications.

Adam Ruben, Ph.D., science comedian and molecular biologist at John’s Hopkins University, will discuss the public perception of science and lessons learned from taking a humorous approach to science.

Alex Stuckey, NASA, science and environment reporter for the Houston Chronicle and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will cover strategies for pitching to the media and finding placement for your stories.

Three-time Geoffrey Award winning director Terésa Dowell-Vest, director of Film and Television Production at Prairie View A&M University, and Rev. Michelle Dowell-Vest, communications director for Women Healing Women, will discuss storytelling and podcasting as brand marketing.

Eric “SciGuy” Berger, meteorologist and founder of Space City Weather, who is known for his hurricane coverage in the Houston Chronicle and across social media platforms, will talk about surviving the digital media storm.

MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Scott Merville, program manager for basic and translational research communications, will discuss strategies for preparing an institution for a major media event. He’ll be joined by Laura Harvey, director of internal communications, to share details on planning an internal celebration that followed the event.



Our host hotel is the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston. URMA attendees can book a room in our block for $149 per night. Register online or call 1-800-236-2905 and use the group code 1UR to receive the conference rate.

Travel Information

By Air

Houston is served by Bush Intercontinental Airport (20 miles north of downtown Houston) and William Hobby Airport (10 miles south of downtown Houston). All major and many alternative airlines fly in and out of Houston.

Upon arriving to Houston, you can take a taxi, Uber/Lyft or catch a SuperShuttle to the hotel. SuperShuttle is a ride-share shuttle service that is cheaper than a taxi or Uber service but will have multiple stops, taking longer to arrive.

Approximate taxi fare from Bush International Airport to downtown Houston is $45. From Hobby Airport, fares are around $22.

By Bus or Car

There is a Greyhound Bus Terminal in downtown Houston.

Contact the hotel to inquire about parking. Contact URMA conference host Lindsay Lewis for information about parking on the UH campus.

Getting Around Town

Greenlink buses offer free transportation in downtown Houston.

A shuttle will transport conference attendees between the hotel and the University of Houston.


Contact Lindsay Lewis at the University of Houston.

Want to learn more about previous conferences? View the conference program archives.