2016 Guest Lecture Biographies

Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. Her latest book is Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, long-listed for the National Book Award and a finalist for the 2016 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Ms. Barnett has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Discover magazine, Salon, Politico, Orion, Ensia and many other publications. She teaches environmental journalism at the University of Florida.

Darlena Cunha is a Former TV producer. She writes for Time Magazine, Washington Post, The Atlantic, The NYT, McSweeneys, Salon, Backpacker Magazine, and many more. She teaches journalism and multimedia at the University of Florida.

Rachel Damiani is pursuing a Master of Arts in Mass Communication where she is specializing in science and health communication. She received a B.S. in biology from the University of Florida. Before attending graduate school, Rachel worked in science education and outreach as a program coordinator. She collaborated with artists and scientists to develop the curriculum for the inaugural STEAM Quest program, which brought high school students to UF to learn about the intersection of science and art. Rachel is a contributing writer at Gainesville Magazine where she features local artists and scientists in the "Creative Gainesville" section.

Lisa S. Gardiner is a writer, science educator, and illustrator. She leads K-12 science education projects at the UCAR Center for Science Education in Boulder, Colorado where she creates learning experiences about weather, climate, and the Earth system and helps train teachers. She is the author and illustrator of several books and websites for children about science and is currently working on a book for adults about how we deal with Earth's chaos in our everyday life. Lisa holds a PhD in geology (paleoecology) from the University of Georgia, an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Goucher College, and a BA in geology and marine science from Smith College.

Narayan Ghiotti is the co-founder and Creative Director at Kinwa, a mobile design and development studio based in Gainesville, Florida. He specializes in branding and interaction design for a diverse clientele from industry, science, and academia. Working with seedling startups and deeply rooted organizations, he strives to empower those who are changing the world with the best creative and tech tools to make a profound impact. (narayan@kinwa.co)

Mike Gil received his Ph.D. from the Department of Biology at the University of Florida in the fall of 2015 and started a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of California, Davis in March 2016. Dr. Gil uses empirical data from field studies combined with modeling approaches to better understand the ecological consequences of species interactions in a human- dominated world. In addition to his research, based primarily in French Polynesia, Mexico, and Thailand, Dr. Gil has broad interests in connecting the public with the process of scientific discovery and all that it offers humankind. To read more about his mass science communication efforts, visit SciAll.org

Deborah Hendrix is UF Samual Proctor Oral History Program’s Digital Humanities Coordinator, where she serves as Archivist and Videographer, and has worked with the program since 2000. Born on St. Simons Island, Georgia, Deborah graduated Glynn Academy High School in 1972 and attended Brunswick Junior College (now College of Coastal Georgia), where she received an A.S. degree in Marine Biology and Medical Technology. She worked in Shands Hospital medical lab for 15 years. In 1999 she completed a Graphic Design and Technology Degree from Santa Fe Community College (now Santa Fe College) in Gainesville, Florida, and in 2006 a BA in History and Anthropology from the University of Florida. Deborah worked as invertebrate technician with Dr. Eugene Keferl. She also tagged loggerhead turtles on Jekyll Island with Dr. Archie Carr.

Charlotte Kesl is a documentary photographer who has worked for humanitarian organizations in East and West Africa and South America since 2008. Her work in post-conflict countries focuses on public health, girl education and women's issues. She helped launch Project Cordillera, a sustainable adventure tourism company in Peru in 2014 and is an instructor for international photography workshops for Momenta Workshops. She has a Masters from the London School of Economics in Media, Communication and Development and a BA from American University in Washington, DC.

Andrea Lucky is an evolutionary biologist and biodiversity scientist with a focus on insects, specifically the evolution of ants. Her research program focuses on two main themes:

  1. insect evolution and biodiversity

  2. science communication with non-scientific audiences

Research in the Lucky Lab addresses fundamental questions about evolutionary relationships among different ant lineages and the timing of dispersal and diversification that has led to the distribution patterns we see today. The approach to answering these questions involves tools such as insect morphology to molecular genetics to phylogenetic statistics. In combination with these research interests, Dr. Lucky uses citizen science as a tool to involve the public in research about native and invasive insects, and to teach about science in general. A major goal of these projects is to make the process of ‘doing’ science accessible to non-scientists.

John Moran’s work is a deep meditation on water and Florida’s future. Florida author and scholar Gary Mormino says, “If Florida had a Photographer Laureate, John Moran should hold that title.” 

Jorge Perez-Gallego is a multifaceted scientist, designer, and educator, with a Ph.D. in Astronomy and an M.F.A. in Design. As an astronomer, he has led an international team of colleagues, and conduct original research about the formation and evolution of galaxies. As a designer, he has followed his passion for science communication and alternative learning, and focused on finding useful and empowering ways to share scientific knowledge with different audiences by means of visual, exhibition and communication design. He has published his work and research in both astronomy and design journals. Currently, he is focused in the development of the new Frost Planetarium and Feathers to the Stars exhibition, as well as new science exhibitions at the upcoming Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.

Eric Segal is Director of Education and Curator of Academic Programs at University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art. In Spring 2016, he co-curated, “Framing Nature: The Living World in Art,” which brought together more than 100 works of art that offer challenging and enriching perspectives on how we see and understand the natural world through the eyes of artists and makers from across time, places and cultures.

Margaret Ross Tolbert is an artist whose commissions include projects for series of paintings with residencies in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Oman, enabling her to continue her research for her series, Doors and study of language and dance from the regions of the ancient trade routes. Another continuing focus is the Springs of North Florida, whose paradisiacal presence provides a sense of ideal destination and the exotic in the here- and-now that counterpoints the sense of passage, time and journey implicit in the Door paintings.

In 2010, the book, AQUIFERious was released, with art and writing by Tolbert and with thirteen contributors. This amalgam of scientific insights woven into a catalog of Tolbert's painting, writing and performance about the springs, documents some of the many features, and urgent need for the preservation of Florida's freshwater springs and the Floridian Aquifer. AQUIFERious received a gold medal in Florida non-fiction and a silver medal in fine arts from the Florida Book Awards. The book GEZI, with Tolbert's narrative and sketches of travels in Eastern Turkey, was released in 2006.