Science Writers &

Communicators of Canada

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Board of Directors

Elizabeth Howell - President

Elizabeth Howell (Ph.D.) is a space and science freelance writer living in Ottawa. Her goal is to tell stories that will inspire the "next generation" to pursue science learning. Her work has taken her to Kazakhstan – where she watched a Canadian astronaut launch into space – and rural Utah, where she pretended to be a Martian astronaut for two weeks. You can spot her work in places such as CBC News,,Forbes, and Sky & Telescope.

Elizabeth knows the rewards and struggles of journalism and science communication, as she regularly takes work in both fields. She joined SWCC (then known as the Canadian Science Writers’ Association) in 2006 as a student. She attended the annual conference thanks to a $600 grant from Carleton University – and granola bars to feed herself when needed. That conference launched her science writing career: it helped her land an internship at NSERC and formulate a story pitch that won her a CSWA award just a year later.

As president, Elizabeth will increase SWCC's linkages with the World Federation of Science Journalists to partner on future conferences, and to help francophone journalists from countries around the world. She also will lead an update of SWCC's website to include better ways for members to speak with each other, and updated graphics to introduce the youngest millennials, and Generation Z, to science communication.

Her website is

Richard Zurawski - Vice President

I am a professional science writer and communicator, and have been for four decades, in all media (print, radio, TV, internet, lecture halls, keynotes, and academic papers). My efforts to understand how people perceive the sciences have led me from the practice of science writing and communication, into teaching, and then into a formal academic of the study and research.

Pseudo-science and junk science, brought about by vested interests, has flooded inexorably into education, medicine, technology, climate change, and virtually every science. We now have to contend with a rising tide of public scientific ignorance that was once unthinkable. In this setting, the role of organizations like the SWCC is clear: to provide a haven and support for those who practice science writing and communications. Through the SWCC directorship I hope to work with other science writers and communicators so that we can learn from each other how to accomplish this.

Aniruddho Chokroborty-Hoque - Treasurer

As a science communicator, I build bridges from p-values to people using words, sound and images.

I work with research institutions - Western University, Radio Western, Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada, and Canadian Science Publishing - writing and producing science stories that answer so what? and who cares?

In my capacity as a Science Writers and Communicators of Canada (SWCC) Director, I would like to:

  • LEARN from the collective wisdom and experience of SWCC members,
  • EXPLORE ways to build SWCC into a platform that provides balanced, accurate, and accessible voices on science and technology issues like climate changes, genetically modified organisms and space exploration,
  • SHARE my and other's experiences as science storytellers and,
  • SHAPE SWCC into an environment that nurtures excellence in science communication, and increases public awareness of science.

L.E.S.S is truly more!

Patchen Barss - Director

I’m interested helping the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada lead at a time of accelerating change. 

That means building a community that actively welcomes a rich diversity of science writers. It means offering training, mentorship, and career building. And it means fostering and communicating values that support ethical, honest practices. I’m currently a Board Member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. I’ve worked as a journalist—National Post, Discovery Channel, Scientific American, Nautilus—and as a communicator—Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Council of Ontario Universities. I’ve also done a lot of work that fits neither category—books, videos, websites, museum exhibits, and more. 

I don’t know what comes next. But I do know that success relies on leading change rather than chasing it. I hope to help the SWCC and its members to be leaders in our field.

Carolyn Fell - Director

As the former Director, Stakeholder Relations and Communications at Compute Ontario, I created opportunities to bring together stakeholders, government, and media to support Advanced Research Computing. I have 15 years experience in communications, public affairs, and stakeholder outreach.

Prior to joining Compute Ontario, I was with Canadian Beverage Association (CBA). There I was responsible for directing all communications for the association and acted as spokesperson on behalf of the association’s diverse member communities.

I wish to join the Board of Science Writers and Communicators of Canada as I believe in excellence across all fields of communications, and recognize the unique challenges in knowledge translation from scientific concepts into common understanding. As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, exchanging best practices and championing this work is exceptionally important.

I bring four years of Board experience to SWCC, including two years as treasurer.

Terry Lavender - Director

I have been a communicator for more than 30 years; beginning my career at a lively tabloid in North Vancouver where I combined the roles of sports editor, municipal politics reporter and wine and food critic. Since then I have spent most of his time in university communications, working for UBC, University of Toronto, SFU, York and Western. I am currently communications manager for UBC President Santa Ono. I am working on his PhD at Simon Fraser University, where he is exploring the relationship between meditation and technology.

Rhonda Moore - Director

Inspired by my experience as co-chair of the 2017 annual conference in Ottawa, I want to serve the SWCC by lending my unique skills and experience to increase the visibility and reach of this important organization in the Canadian science ecosystem.

Rhonda Moore is Senior Advisor, Science and Innovation at the Institute on Governance. For more than 15 years she has had one foot in policy & research and one foot in science & research communications, promoting a message that effective (science) policy requires clear communication.

A few of Rhonda’s science or research communications accomplishments include:

Michelle Riedlinger - Director

I am an Associate Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia. I teach science and environmental communication.

Before coming to Canada in 2010, I worked in Australia as a science communication professional for over 15 years. I worked on environmental science communication projects focused on climate variability, dryland salinity, catchment management, and river health. While working in Australia, I was also the Regional Coordinator for the Australian Science Communicators Association (an organization with similar goals to SWCC) for eight years (see

Michael Robin - Director

In both the telling and the hearing, stories begin with people.

My passion is taking complex science transforming it into stories that engage and excite. As a strategist, I ask questions. Who are we talking to? Where are they and where do they get their information? What do they believe?

Over more than 30 years, my work appeared in weekly and national publications, broadcast and online media. For more than a decade at the University of Saskatchewan, I worked to identify and shine a light on the innovative minds and discoveries at one of Canada’s top research universities.

We live in challenging times, where innovation and knowledge are often met with rejection and disbelief. This has consequences for issues critical to our species and our environment, from vaccines and genetic engineering to energy and climate change. I believe science writers and communicators have a vital role to play.

Marg Sheridan - Director

My background is in journalism where I was a National Online Sports Writer but it was later, during a stint with the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, that I realized I enjoyed the challenge of taking complicated medical research and finding a way to share it with the general public. This revelation encouraged me to stay in this field.

Now, I work as a communication coordinator with the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. This position allows me to write about medical research and the people behind it, provide hands-on science outreach in Saskatoon, and provide communications training for our students.

Natasha Waxman - Director

Natasha Waxman has been the Director of Publications at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo since 2009. She and her team create a range of publications and documents for print and web, aiming to make cutting-edge physics accessible, vibrant, and even cool. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Inside the Perimeter magazine.

Previously, she was a freelance scientific writer in New York and Waterloo. She holds a BA from the University of Toronto, and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jay Whetter - Director

I have been a farm journalist since 1997. I worked for Farm Business Communications in Winnipeg for 12 years and have been with the Canola Council of Canada the past seven years. I write and edit and Canola Digest magazine. I talk to entomologists, soil scientists, plant pathologists and geneticists on a regular basis. Each year, I also edit a Canola Digest Science special and co-organize Canola Discovery Forum, a symposium of new and needed research.

I also have experience with various other committees, including 10 years as board executive with Harbourfest in Kenora and three years as president of the Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association.

To see the 2019 Annual General Meeting Minutes, click here:

2019 AGM


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Toronto, ON

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