Detailed Bio

20170610_AMK_Grand Teton (30).JPG
Illustrating sunset over a lake shore impacted by a major forest fire in 2016 (2017)

Overview: I am an award-winning artist/communicator fascinated with science and sustainability. I focus on illustrations that demystify how ecosystems work and editorial projects that connect our everyday lives to the natural world. I have an Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of Wyoming’s Creative Writing MFA program. And, I am passionate about teaching researchers, teachers, and the public how to incorporate the arts and humanities into science work and lifestyle.

My award-winning work can be seen in numerous publications, including a college-level writing textbook I co-authored and magazines such as American ScientistBC NatureCamasFair ChaseMontana Outdoors, and Western Confluence. Past visual communication projects include photography for Parks Canada and leading professional development trainings for scientists at Harvard Forest, Ecological Society of America annual meetings, and the University of Wyoming’s Science Initiative Summer Teaching Institute.

Interviewed by EPSCoR regarding the relationship between writing, illustration, and science communication (2016)

 Philosophy: My approach is grassroots and personal – with an eye toward how local efforts can inform policy – because I firmly believe that well-informed citizens make a difference. For me, positive change means improving how we communicate about projects, how we plan the next big initiative, and even how individuals perceive their role in keeping our ecosystems viable. And, this work is necessarily based on a foundation of fundamental respect for humanity, and a deep commitment to equity in STEM and broader society, that includes utilizing ethical, best practices in both communication and educational efforts.

Current work: Right now, I work toward these goals as an Associate Research Scientist at the University of Wyoming. I teach science communication courses for graduate students and undergraduates, direct the Wyoming Science Communication Initiative (including leading professional development trainings for faculty, staff, and students), and I do communication work for the Wyoming Migration Initiative. I lead public engagement assessment for the Biodiversity Institute and Wyoming EPScOR. I am also the co-founder and current chairperson of the Ecological Society of America’s Communication and Engagement Section. See the Section website for details on my role with them and the trainings and resources we offer, including the #MySciComm blog series which I edit. In these capacities, I collaborate with colleagues and students to professionalize science communication and engagement (C&E) efforts, enhance the integration of C&E and the arts and humanities in Broader Impacts proposals, and contribute to research on transdisciplinary science communication. I also conduct my own research and creative activities, including an on-going project – The Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare – investigating ecosystems in the world where tortoises and hares coexist.

Bethann sketching jackrabbits
Making field sketches of black-tailed jackrabbits in the University of Arizona Museum of Natural History’s Vertebrate Collection (2016)

Background: My experience with science, conservation, food systems and sustainability spans more than a decade. My background includes community development facilitation, nonprofit management, branding campaigns, educational program direction and development, and more. I have contributed to/done field research on black bears, bison, painted turtles, kestrels, Rocky Mountain amphibians and more. I have been responsible for the direction and implementation of natural history and sustainability education programs. My native language is American English, and I am functionally fluent in Canadian French. I have provided editorial support to numerous peer-reviewed publications, and I have published extensively in popular and peer-reviewed publications. I am driven by how we can blend word craft and images to communicate about important, and not always glamorous, conservation developments and issues. Ultimately, my motives are to increase collaboration, improve scientific literacy, and encourage positive action among ordinary citizens, policy makers, and scientists.

J&B_Rat_20130518 (13).JPG
Collecting camera and behavioral data during field research studying bison home-ranging behavior in Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada (2013)

More information:

  • Follow this link for my portfolio and CV.
  • Contact me to collaborate and brainstorm.
  • Or, connect with me online. Just look for @CommNatural on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.
Waiting to do a plenary talk about historical and contemporary synergies between drawing and science, Missoula, Montana (2017)