URMA 2020: July 14-17 at Lehigh University

Join us at Lehigh for URMA 2020!

At URMA’s annual conference, you’ll connect with colleagues from universities and institutions who communicate about research through online and print magazines, articles, social media, videos, podcasts and more. Our conference features practitioners in realms such as journalism, design, photography, multimedia and other areas relevant to telling the stories of research. If you communicate about your institution’s research, URMA 2020 is for you.

Lehigh University’s picturesque campus is located in Bethlehem, PA, in the vibrant and fast-growing Lehigh Valley region, 50 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles southwest of New York City. Bethlehem is a vibrant city, rich in history and known for its small-town friendliness and feel. Once an industrial hub as the home of Bethlehem Steel, the city today is thriving as a destination for music, art, culture and entertainment.

Curious about past conferences? Check out Previous Conference information.

For access to presentations from URMA 2019, visit our Member Resources webpage.

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

View PDF of program

Monday, July 22

  • 7:30‐10:30 p.m.
    • Registration for Field Trip Attendees; URMA Hospitality Suite, Hilton Americas

Tuesday, July 23

  • 8 a.m.‐5 p.m.
    • Optional Field Trip to NASA
  • 7:30‐10:30 p.m.
    • Conference Registration; URMA Hospitality Suite, Hilton Americas

Wednesday, July 24

  • 8:30 a.m.
    • Registration and Morning Refreshments
      UH Student Center, Ballroom 210
  • 9 a.m.
    • Introduction and Welcome
      Claudia Neuhauser, Associate Vice President for Research
  • 9:15 a.m.
    • Session 1: Should It Be One Story? The Evolution of NASA’s Messaging
      Ralph Grau, Deputy Manager, ISS External Integration, NASA
  • 10:15 a.m.
    • Break
  • 10:30 a.m.
    • Session 2: Mic Your Marketing: Storytelling and Podcasting as Brand Marketing
      Terésa Dowell‐Vest, Film and Television Director; Michelle A. Dowell‐Vest, Communications Director and Podcast Host
      UH Student Center, Ballroom 210
  • 11:45 a.m.
    • Lunch; UH Hilton, Shamrock Ballroom, Floor 2
  • 12:30 p.m.
    • NASA 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing Events
      UH Student Center, Floor 1
  • 1:30 p.m.
    • Speed Networking
      UH Student Center, Ballroom 210
  • 2:30 p.m.
    • Break; Afternoon Refreshments
  • 2:45 p.m.
    • Session 3: An Engineer Works to Explain His Trade
      John Lienhard, Ph.D., Author and Voice of NPR’s The Engines of Our Ingenuity
      UH Student Center, Ballroom 210
  • 3:45 p.m.
    • Break, Afternoon Refreshments
  • 4 p.m.
    • URMA Annual Film Festival
      UH Student Center Theater, Room 103/203
  • 5:15 p.m.
    • Walk to the MD Anderson Library
  • 5:30 p.m.
    • Reception
      Greetings from Mike Rosen, Associate Vice President, Strategic Communications
      Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library, Floor 2
  • 7:30‐10:30 p.m.
    • Hospitality Suite

Thursday, July 25

  • 8:30 a.m.
    • Morning Refreshments
      Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library, Floor 2
  • 9 a.m.
    • Firehose Sessions:
      • Using Instagram Stories; Kelly Hochbein, Lehigh University
      • The Value of Twitter Series Posts; Noel Rubinton, Brown University
      • Cornell’s NYS Impact Initiative; Ted Boscia, Cornell University
      • Developing a Dynamic, Online Fact Sheet; Christina Dierkes, Ohio State University
      • Behold the Scutoid! How the Discovery of a New Shape Went Viral; Lori Friedman, Lehigh University
      • Make a Research Video in Less Than an Hour; Catherine Zandonella, Princeton University
      • Beyond the Abstract: Communications Training for Researchers; Beth Potier, University of New Hampshire
  • 10:00 a.m.
    • Break
  • 10:15 a.m.
    • Session 4: Convince Me: How to Sell Your Story in the Age of 24/7 News
      Alex Stuckey, NASA and Science Reporter for the Houston Chronicle
      Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library, Floor 2
  • 11: 30 a.m.
    • Lunch
  • 12:45 p.m.
    • Session 5: Preparing for the Possibility of Really Fabulous News – Nobel Prize 2018
      Scott Merville and Laura Harvey, MD Anderson Cancer Center Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library, Floor 2
  • 1:45 p.m.
    • Break
  • 2 p.m.
    • Session 6: How to Communication‐ing Clearwise: The Challenges of Engaging the Public Even Though, You Know, Science
      Adam Ruben, Ph.D., Author, Comedian and Molecular Biologist at John’s Hopkin’s University
      Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library, Floor 2
  • 3:15 p.m.
    • Break, Afternoon Refreshments
  • 3:30 p.m.
    • Session 7: Navigating Chaos: How to Lead with Clarity
      Brad Deutser, Creative Strategist, Executive Coach and Founder/CEO of Deutser
      Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library, Floor 2
  • 5:30 p.m.
  • 7:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m
    • Hospitality Suite

Friday, July 26

  • 8:30 a.m.
    • Morning Refreshments
      Classroom and Business Building, Room 106
  • 9 a.m.
    • Nuts & Bolts Sessions:
      • Optimizing Your Online Content for Search Engines; Diane Boudreau, Arizona State University
      • Navigating Story Selection and Approval; Joe Kays, University of Florida
      • Technology and Tools for Expanding Communications; Catherine Zandonella, Princeton University; Laura Perry, UCLA
  • 10:30 a.m.
    • Break and Group Photo
  • 11 a.m.
    • URMA Business Meeting
  • 12 p.m.
    • Conference Adjourns


Ralph Grau, Deputy Manager of the International Space Station External Integration at NASA, will speak to us about the evolution of NASA’s messaging.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

Brad Deutser, creative strategist, executive coach and Founder/CEO of Deutser, will help us understand how to navigate chaos in our organizations during this his 90-minute interactive session.