2016 Program & Schedule

The retreat will begin on Friday afternoon and conclude on Sunday morning. Below is a tentative program and schedule, subject to change.

Pre-Camp Workshops
For those interested in a more in-depth learning experience, join us a few hours earlier on Friday afternoon for a three-hour intensive workshop. Capacity is limited, so be sure to indicate your interest when you register. (We’ll maintain wait-lists.) Additional cost: $75, includes lunch.

(1) Nonfiction Book Proposals: The first half of this intensive workshop will provide an overview on writing nonfiction books, from conception to publication. There will be a short writing assignment to get you thinking about how to structure your book, advice on finding and picking an agent, the nuts and bolts of book proposals, and more. We’ll focus on traditional publishing rather than self-publishing, although we’ll also talk about the pros and cons of each. After the break, students will write and workshop a draft of one part of their book proposal — the agent pitch letter, a chapter outline, the introduction, or something similar.

Brooke Borel is an independent science journalist and the 2016 Cissy Patterson fellow with the Alicia Patterson Foundation. She’s a contributing editor at Popular Science and has written for BuzzFeed News, the Atlantic, the Guardian, Slate, and Aeon, among others. Borel is the author of two books from the University of Chicago Press: Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World, which had additional support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking. She teaches science communication workshops at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, as well as book proposal and fact-checking workshops at the Brooklyn Brainery. She lives in Brooklyn and is well aware that she’ll always be known as the bed bug lady.

(2) YouTube Elements Workshop: In this workshop we’ll explore online video from top to bottom, starting with an overview of the current media landscape including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and VImeo. Then we’ll dissect what makes certain online videos popular, how to choose the right topic, how to write for online video, and get into the technical aspects of filming and editing. We’ll work hands-on with some different cameras, sound and lighting to move through the production process. We’ll also talk about posting strategies, to maximize the impact of your work.

Derek Muller is creator of the YouTube channel Veritasium, with over 3.6 million subscribers and 285+ million views. He has also hosted documentaries like Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail and been featured on Discovery Channel, the BBC, History 2, and the Australian ABC. Derek has a PhD in Physics Education Research from the University of Sydney and a BSc in Engineering Physics from Queen’s University in Canada.

Keynote Address
caitlinCaitlin Doughty is a licensed mortician and death acceptance advocate. She is founder of the nonprofit The Order of the Good Death, author of the bestselling book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and recently opened her first funeral home, Undertaking LA. (Twitter: @TheGoodDeath.)

Saturday AM Workshops
Saturday morning features a 90-minute workshop of your choice. Be sure to indicate your preferences when you register:

(1) Introduction to Science Blogging: In this workshop we’ll explore the landscape of science blogging today. How are blogs different from other forms of written work? How can scientists and journalists alike use blogs to communicate science effectively and advance their careers? We’ll discuss best practices and common pitfalls to avoid.

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He is Environment Editor at KCET, and lives in Joshua Tree, CA.

(2) Science Comics Extravaganza: Learn the basics of design, execution, and sharing of science comics. We will cover current works by contemporary science comics and discuss the creative process, including considerations such as realism, anthropomorphism, and symbolism. The session culminates in a comic workshop where you will illustrate your own science comic and share it online. Art experience not at all required. Stick figures welcome!

Katie McKissick is the odd bird behind the webcomic Beatrice the Biologist. She’s a former high school biology teacher who simply loves to talk, write, and read about science. Based in Los Angeles, Katie contributes to the Scientific American science and art blog, Symbiartic, and cohosts the irreverent science podcast, Science Brunch. She also somehow wrote a book called What’s in Your Genes?, a conversational overview of genetics.

(3) Memory Maps, A Tool for Science Communication: In their own right, maps and memories are powerful ways to engage people with scientific content. Maps can communicate where organisms live, breed, move, and even where they no longer exist. Whereas, purposefully triggering personal memories can help us to connect more deeply or in new ways with our readers, viewers, or visitors. But what happens when you combine the two? Memory mapping is a unique way for people to share their place-based stories—from a dinosaur dig, or kayaking adventure down the L.A. River, to the last walk you took in a garden or the natural places you played as a child. In this workshop we will look at memory maps created by people from all over the world, and how they can be incorporated into programs, exhibits, and print. We will create our own memory maps, and then brainstorm ways to further incorporate this tool into science communication settings.

Lila Higgins is a museum educator, naturalist, and LA River advocate. In 2008 she joined the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County working in the Education & Exhibits department and overseeing the Museum’s Citizen Science efforts. She was a lead educator on the Museum’s Nature Lab and Nature Gardens exhibits which opened in 2013 and focused on the surprising biodiversity of Los Angeles. In her free time Lila balloon maps the LA River, holds river picnics and tours, and leads memory mapping workshops. She is a team member of Project 51: Play the LA River, and volunteers for Los Angeles Walks. Lila holds a bachelor’s degree in entomology from University of California, Riverside and a master’s degree in environmental education from California State University, San Bernardino.

(4) Telling Stories through Photos and Video:
In today’s media environment, science communicators need to be proficient at more than writing. They need to be photographers, videographers, and more, able to tell compelling stories about complex subjects with accuracy and nuance, using a variety of tools. Learn how to use photography and videos to deliver high-impact, high-quality stories about complex, often controversial topics in science from two master storytellers from National Geographic Channel’s Continent 7: Antarctica.

Ari S. Friedlaender is an associate professor at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute. Friedlaender’s research interests are in using tag technology to study the underwater behavior of marine mammals. Friedlaender also has a unique history of engaging the general public about marine mammals, climate change and Antarctica. Using photography as a medium, he has sought to shed light on some of the most unique aspects of the Antarctic, its inhabitants and the threats that this fragile ecosystem now faces. Most recently, he’s contributed to National Geographic Channel’s Continent 7: Antarctica, the first ever long-form documentary series filmed in Antarctica.

J.J. Kelley is an Emmy-nominated National Geographic director and correspondent focusing on wildlife conservation, exploration and wildlife-related crime. He was the 2014 recipient of the Blue Ocean Film Festival’s Best Short Film award for GYRE, a National Geographic documentary he directed on the mounting tragedy of ocean trash killing wildlife. Kelley was also the winner of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival’s Best Conservation Film for Battle for the Elephants, a one-hour NGTV-PBS special on the brutal slaughter of African elephants for their tusks, fueled largely by China’s demand for ivory. Kelley is the director of Warlords of Ivory, the premiere episode of National Geographic Channel’s newly relaunched Explorer series. He is a reporter for National Geographic’s new Investigation Explorer, and he regularly produces short films for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service highlighting their endangered species programs. His work has appeared on the National Geographic Channel, NOVA, Outside Television and PBS, and in the New York Times. Most recently, he served as field producer for National Geographic Channel’s Continent 7: Antarctica.

Unconference-Style Discussions
We’re eager to hear your ideas for Saturday’s three discussion sessions! Submit them via this form; a selection process will occur prior to the start of camp.

The Story Collider
Stories are powerful. Whether hilarious or heartbreaking, subversive or soothing, they reflect who we are and what matters to us. As a community, it matters who takes the stage and what stories are told. We want to hear yours!

SciCommCamp is thrilled to welcome The Story Collider to camp for our Saturday night party. We are looking for true, personal experiences of science in your life. Your story can be about anything – doing/learning/sharing/doubting/needing science – but we are looking for an 8-10 minute story with a beginning, middle, and end. Stories about interesting, emotional moments. Exotic locations and exciting action never hurt, but what we really care about is how you’ve changed and grown. And you’ll have plenty of help: Story Collider producers will work with you personally to make your story great. All you need to do is send a brief email describing your idea to stories AT storycollider DOT org with “SCICOMMCAMP Story Idea” in the subject. The deadline for pitches is September 30, 2016

You might be thinking “I love it, but just don’t have any great stories” – and you’re probably wrong! Take a chance on us, it may even be fun.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change)
12:00pm Pre-camp workshop check-in and lunch
1:00-4:00pm Pre-camp workshops
3:00-5:00pm Registration
5:00pm Welcome Reception
6:00pm Dinner, followed by keynote address
Late Night: Stargazing, sponsored by Celestron (bring your own equipment, or borrow ours!)

8:30am Breakfast
9:30am Announcements
10:00am-11:30am Workshops
11:30am-11:45am Break
11:45am-12:45pm Discussion sessions #1
1:00pm BBQ Lunch
3:00pm-4:00pm Discussion sessions #2
4:00pm-4:15pm Break
4:15pm-5:15pm Discussion sessions #3
6:30pm Reception, followed by dinner
8:00pm Red Planet Party featuring The Story Collider, sponsored by National Geographic Channel.
Late Night: Campfire

9:30am Breakfast
(9:30am Check out – all rooms must be empty)
10:30am Closing and Book Giveaway