Research

My current research interests include:

Paleontology exhibit at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
Paleontology exhibit opening day. Lidia Valencia from STRI guides to visiting children.

How is science communicated to the public through different outlets such as mass media and museum exhibits?

I have collaborated on two research projects to try to answer this question. The overarching questions of these two projects are:

a. How is the shark finning issue framed in US newspapers?

b. How is horse evolution portrayed in natural history museums in the US?

These results are important for conservation groups, policy makers and museum designers.

Paleontologists working at La Tatacoa dessert, Colombia
Paleontologist Jorge Moreno working with a local guide in La Tatacoa desert, Colombia

Why do people participate in science communication activities?

My thesis proposal aims to understand what drives scientists to interact with the public. Also, I want to study why the public takes part in science communication activities.

Science communication activities include public talks, museum visits, field trips, mass media coverage, books and webpages.

Teachers using a fossil shells identification guide
Teachers during a field trip in Colon, Panama.

How do scientists can plan meaningful science communication activities?

I am participating in a front-end evaluation for a traveling exhibit. The purpose of this evaluation is to understand people's perceptions and interest on the topic of the exhibit, in this case, past and present biodiversity in the Neotropics.

Results of this evaluation will better inform scientists and exhibit designers on the public's understanding and needs.

One example of a meaningful actitivy designed by a scientist is the fossil identification guide developed by paleontologist Austin Hendy and his wife, Katherine Hendy. A group of teachers from different cities in Panama participated in a field trip to a fossil site near Colon in the Caribbean side of the country. Teachers were able to use the guide to familiarize themselves with paleontology and fossils from Panama.