Past Conferences

Archived Conference Information

Presentations and notes from these events are available to members on our Member Resources page. Apply to join URMA!

2018: University of Tennessee

  • Our host was Craig Cook, senior interactive art director  
  • View the agenda.
  • Highlights included:
    • Ann Christiano from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, talking about The Science of What Makes Us Care About Science
    • New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean on Spoons and Thumbs: Funny, Spooky, Poignant, and Completely True Science Stories
    • National Public Radio correspondent and author Richard Harris on his new book Rigor Mortis: Sloppy Science Leading to Unrealistic Results
    • Brooke Thayer, consultant at Education Advisory Board, shared the board’s report on Telling the Story of Research: Tactics for Communicating the Value of University Research
    • Miriam Kramer, senior science editor at Mashable, shared Sneaky Science: Making You Eat Your Veggies While You Think You’re Having a Cookie
    • The conference continued its popular “Fire Hose” series of short talks from URMA members on topics such as Remaking Your Visual Identity; Reader Surveys; 360-Degree Video; Annual Reports; Managing Large Gift Announcements; and How to Start a Science Pub with No Budget.
    • The “Nuts and Bolts” session addressed Marketing Tools and Social Media Strategy; and Paid Ad Campaigns for Research.

2017: Brown University

  • Our host was Noel Rubinton of Brown University.
  • View the agenda.
  • Highlights included:
    • David Corcoran, long-time Science Times editor at the New York Times and now Associate Director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT and senior editor of its new, unconventional Undark online science magazine
    • Meera Subramanian, science writer/journalist, author of A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis; writer for The New Yorker and other magazines; and current Knight Science Fellow at MIT
    • Kenneth Miller, Brown University biologist and a leading science advocate. Miller is author of two books, one on how faith can coexist with science, and another on the battle between evolution and intelligent design
    • Conference topics included data visualization, the role of political activism in the research world today (including where research communicators fit in), and social media.
    • The conference continued its popular “Fire Hose” series of short talks from URMA members, and introduced a new feature, “Nuts and Bolts,” a freewheeling session aimed at sharing and solving some of the thorniest challenges that plague research communicators.

2016: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

  • Our host was Angela McManahan, Editor, Made in Milwaukee magazine.
  • View the agenda.
  • Highlights included:
    • Marilynn Marchione talked about what stories break through the clutter and about how she transforms medical science findings into stories that get people reading and thinking about their health differently. View the video.
    • Scientific American editor Michael D. Lemonick discussed how he writes heavy-duty science that engages and educates. He penned more than 50 science cover stories while on staff at Time magazine, has written six books and currently teaches journalism at Princeton University. View the video.
    • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher talked about how they reported and wrote their Pulitzer Prize-winning series on a boy who became the first patient in the world to have his DNA sequenced for diagnosis. That series became the basis for their book, “One in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine.” View the video.
    • Sessions on: The behind-the-scenes media outreach that went into telling the science story of the year (LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves); Making a university news site appealing to journalists; Quality photo/video using your iPhone; How to pull off a successful research event on a budget; and more.
    • URMAns shared their tips on photography, design, writing, editing and all other aspects of research communications.

2015: Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta

  • Our host was John Toon, Director of Research News and Editor of Research Horizons magazine.
  • View the agenda.
  • Highlights included:
    • Talks by Maryn McKenna, a journalist and author who specializes in public health, global health and food policy; photographer Dan Winters, who challenged us to think about photography in different ways; Paige Brown Jarreau, blog manager of, where she writes the blog “From The Lab Bench”; and Pete Ludovice and Lew Lefton, Georgia Tech faculty members who do stand-up comedy based on science.
    • Insights on: Handling the media response to the first U.S. Ebola patient at Emory University; using drones in reporting; redesigning Georgia Tech’s Research Horizons magazine with the help of an outside consulting firm; challenges in communicating about research involving animals; using social media and blogging to communicate about research; and much more.
    • Tours of the Georgia Tech’s robotics research facility, the Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions (CNES) Laboratory, and technology incubator programs.

2014: Oregon State University in Corvallis

  • Our host was Nick Houtman, Assistant Director of Research Communications and Editor of Terra magazine.
  • View the agenda.
  • Among the highlights of the 2014 conference:
    • Visual Storytelling (Alisa Machalek, National Institutes of Health; Morgan Heim, conservation photojournalist)
    • Strategic Planning for Research Communications (Dave Pacchioli, Penn State; Su DiBella, UNLV; Laura Perry, UCLA)
    • Science Stories: Training your scientists to share their passion (Joe Kays, University of Florida; Naomi Hirsch, Oregon State)
  • View photos and other content on URMA’s Facebook page.

2013: Binghamton University in New York

2012: Northwestern University and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the Chicago area

2011: University of Arkansas in Fayetteville