SkepchickCON 2013 Panelists

Home/SkepchickCON 2013 Panelists



Jamie Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein
Jamie Bernstein is a data, stats and economics nerd from Chicago. She has studied and runs experiments around behavioral economics and human behavior and worked for a presidential campaign, even though she swears she hates politics. She’s been involved with skeptical activism for many years, especially volunteer work promoting vaccinations. Sometimes she pretends she is a photographer to get free tickets to concerts. (Portrait of Jamie by Alexander, age 6.)

Bug Girl

Bug Girl
Bug Girl has a PhD in Entomology. Her bug research involves using pheromones to try to control insect populations without pesticides. She’s been blogging about insects since before you were born. She currently runs a small consulting web company specializing in social media strategy for non-profits and scientists.

Kirsten Valentine Cadieux

Valentine Cadieux
Valentine Cadieux is a researcher in the departments of Sociology and Geography, Society, and Environment at the University of Minnesota. She studies the cultural geography and social organization of land use and food governance and the politics of environmental decision making, particularly at the urban-rural interface. Valentine relies on publicly-engaged participatory research processes to explore the implications of policy, activism, and decision-making processes related to landscape and food practices. Current work focuses on the ways that urban and rural environmental ideologies and anxieties relate to the ways that groups negotiate conflicts and contradictions in their aspirations for addressing trauma in food systems, residential landscapes, and environmental planning.

Emily Cassidy

Emily Cassidy
Emily Cassidy has a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science and is currently finishing up a Master’s in Natural Resources Science and Management at the Institute on the Environment with Jonathan Foley. She is co-author on a 2011 Nature publication titled “Solutions for a Cultivated Planet.” Her research has focused on the global environmental impact of dietary preferences. Specifically she quantifies the land, water, and climate impacts of the food we eat everyday. Twitter handle: Cassidy_Emily


Ryan Consell

Ryan Consell is a skeptical artist, tap-dancing armorer, juggling scientist, rock-climbing writer, sword-fighting math teacher, uni-cycling gamer, fire-spinning academic and devout nerd. He has a masters in applied science, most of a bachelors in fine arts, and a very short attention span. He is the author of How Not to Poach a Unicorn and half of the masochistic comedy duo that is Creative Dissonance.


Heina Dadabhoy

Heina (pronounced hee-na) holds two shameful Humanities degrees from a fine University of California institution. Her induction into the noble life of the nerd occurred at age ten, when she discovered the Internet through excessive amounts of time spent among adults in Star Wars forums. As she is fierce femme who never wears t-shirts, she often expresses her geekiness in far less sartorial fashion, although she does enjoy the occasional (or not-so-occasional) sewing-free cosplay.


Debbie Goddard

Debbie Goddard is an organizer and activist who works at the Center for Inquiry as director of outreach and director of African Americans for Humanism. She also writes (not often enough!) for Skepchick. Before working for CFI, she was involved in Philadelphia-area freethought and skeptic groups and supported international campus groups as a student volunteer. Eleven years of Catholic school fostered her interest in secularism and atheism, while doing magic shows as a teenager sparked a fascination with the psychology of deception. Other interests include language and perception, LGBTQ issues, and Trivial Pursuit.


Nicole Gugliucci

Nicole Dr. Nicole Gugliucci is a post-doctoral researcher in astronomy working for the citizen science project called CosmoQuest. Her graduate work was on building a low-frequency radio telescope to detect hydrogen from the early universe. She enjoys all kinds of outreach, especially helping kids explore the world around them. She is skeptically curious about all things.

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer is a musician and writer living in Chicago. She’s a contributor to the art and science blog Mad Art Lab, where she writes about the neuroscience, technology, and politics of music, skeptical and atheist musicians, and whatever else gets her excited about the world. She also plays woodwinds professionally — most frequently, it’s tenor sax in the band FuzZz, a five-piece funk outfit that includes two neuroscience professors and recently recorded its debut album. She spends the rest of her time running, drinking craft beer, and teaching herself to play various instruments badly.


J. Drake Hamilton

J. Drake Hamilton is a climatologist with a knack for communicating science and policy ideas that motivate people to take action. She is science policy director at the St. Paul-based nonprofit, Fresh Energy, where she designs climate policy solutions at the scale of the climate change problem. Then she works with dozens of partners to turn those ideas into strong laws. She gives 50 invited presentations a year, usually on the connections among climate change, clean energy, and human health. J. was formerly a geography professor at George Washington University and studied climate policy in the European Union with an international leaders fellowship. She’s a Dartmouth College alum. MplsSt.Paul magazine included her among 100 Minnesotans “who get things done.” When not wonking about cutting carbon pollution, she grows organic peaches and plums that win blue ribbons at the Minnesota State Fair.


Olivia James

Olivia Olivia James is a recent graduate from St. Olaf College in philosophy and religion. She writes for Teen Skepchick and in her spare time enjoys geeking out to Once Upon a Time, Dr Who, Buffy, and all manner of books.

Melissa S. Kaercher

Melissa S. Kaercher is a Jane-of-all-trades. Her body of work includes work in comics, writing, photography, filmmaking, performance art, archaeology, and the biological sciences. She holds a BS of Biology from the University of Minnesota, which she garnered while also working on a BA of Fine Arts. She lords over an ever-growing collection of zombie movies, computers, and Godzilla action figures. She has proclaimed herself to be the Queen of the Lizard People. Melissa can be found online at Tin Lizard Productions, The Sound and the Foley, and on Twitter (@chebutykin).

Greg Laden

001_Greg Greg Laden is a biological anthropologist and science writer who blogs at National Geographic Scienceblogs and lives in the Twin Cities. He has worked on excavations in the United States, South Africa, and Central Africa, and conducted several years of field research with the Efe Pygmies of the Congo, exploring their use of the landscape and food gathering habits. He is the main architect of the “root hypothesis” for the ape-human split and worked on the team that proposed the central role of cooking in human evolution. He is the author of the obscure and playful science fiction novel Sungudogo.

Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist and blogger who writes about politics, feminism, and pop culture. She blogs daily at Raw Story’s Pandagon and Slate’s XX Factor, and has written for the Daily Beast, Salon, the American Prospect, and Alternet, amongst others.

Ashley Miller

Writer, public speaker, and communications scholar who gets paid to talk about variations of: atheism, feminism, gay rights, minority rights, young adult literature, mass media, culture, the oxford comma, the ukulele, and surviving getting a doctorate. She is working on a PhD in Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina, graduated cum laude from Emory with a BA in Film Studies, and has an MFA from FSU’s Film Conservatory. In another life, she was a reality television editor who worked on shows like Toddlers & Tiaras.

PZ Myers

PZ-Dino.jpeg PZ Myers is an astounding miracle of nature. He is made up of about 100 trillion cells that are all independently regulated by complex networks of approximately 20,000 genes and 3 billion nucleotides. His genome contains a unique combinatorial code of almost 40,000 alleles — genes which have been epigenetically honed by 57 years of experience. He is so popular that he is the personal host of a quadrillion organisms that rely on him for sustenance and support. Furthermore, he is the pinnacle of almost 4 billion years of chemical and biological evolution, and before that, stars burned for billions of years to generate the raw material of his corporeal body by nucleosynthesis. You should be awed by his presence. You want to be in the same room with him simply to bask in the cosmic significance of his existence.


Shawn Lawrence Otto

Shawn Lawrence Otto is the award-winning author of Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, which has been called “one of the most important books published in America in the last decade.” He is the organizer and producer of the last two US presidential science debates, Between President Obama and his opponents, Mitt Romney and John McCain. He travels and speaks about science and politics and the growing gap between science and the democratic process. He is also a filmmaker and novelist. He is the screenwriter and coproducer of the Academy-Award-nominated film House of Sand and Fog, and author of a new novel, Sins Of Our Fathers, which will be published by Milkweed Editions later this year.


Lux Pickel
Lux is a contributing blogger for Teen Skepchick and Queereka. She hopes to one day use her super-activist skills to land a job at a major freethought org. For now, she smiths metal into jewelry, plays video games with a cat in her lap and works at night. Lux pines for toe socks, misses WoW, wishes she did more and is searching fruitlessly for agreeable gender-neutral pronouns.


Amy Davis Roth

Surly Amy Amy Davis Roth (A.K.A. Surly Amy) is a 4th-generation visual artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She is a professional artist and creator of Surly-Ramics. Her designer jewelry line is inspired by and encourages science, humanism and critical thinking. Amy is a longtime contributor to the widely popular blog She is managing editor for Skepchick’s sister site that deals with the intersection between art, science and skepticism called, Mad Art Lab. She loves to add her creative skills to the fight against pseudoscience and ignorance.


Anne Sauer

Anne Sauer Anne is passionate about good science, good food, and making connections between the two. With a background in education technology and following stints as a cocktail mixologist and old-timey soda jerk, Anne is now pursuing an MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. She is also one of the organizers of the San Francisco Atheist Film Festival, the oldest film festival of its kind.

Desiree Schell

Desiree Schell Desiree Schell is the host of Skeptically Speaking, a syndicated radio show and podcast that broadcasts across North America. The program explores the connections between science, popular culture, history and public policy, to help listeners understand the evidence and arguments behind what’s in the news and on the shelves. In her day job as the Senior Organizing Advisor of a Public Sector union, Desiree creates and implements various kinds of activist campaigns, and helps others be more effective in their own efforts.

Jason Thibeault

Jason Thibeault is a gigantic computer nerd and technology addict. He spends his precious free time ranting on the intertubes about whatever happens to irritate him, whenever something happens to irritate him and he’s in arms’ reach of a computing device. Since he’s such a computer nerd, that’s almost always. He identifies as a skeptic, a feminist and an atheist, and in his experience exactly no valid arguments have ever been presented to him that these three are at all in conflict. He is fueled by caffeine and rage and caffeine. (Portrait of Jason by Alexander, age 6.)

Indre Viskontas

Viskontas Indre Dr. Indre Viskontas is a scientist and artist, highly proficient in both neuroscience and music. She has published more than 35 original research papers and book chapters on the neural basis of memory and creativity, and curates, performs and commissions chamber music and opera as the leader of two ensembles: Opera on Tap – San Francisco and Vocallective ( Dr. Viskontas is affiliated with the Memory and Aging Center at UCSF where she explores creativity in patients with dementia and is a collegiate professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she teaches musicians how to apply the tenets of neuroscience to develop effective practice strategies. Her talent for bringing complex scientific topics to a broad audience garnered her international recognition as the scientific co-host of Miracle Detectives, a docuseries on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She is an editor of the journal Neurocase and co-hosts the popular science podcast Point of Inquiry. More at

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical activists on the Skepchick Network, which includes, Teen Skepchick, Swedish Skepchick, Esceptica, Queereka, and Mad Art Lab. She also co-hosts the weekly Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe radio show and podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter: @rebeccawatson. (Portrait of Rebecca by Sadie, age 2.)


Siouxsie Wiles

Siouxsie Wiles Dr Siouxsie Wiles describes herself as a microbiologist and bioluminescence enthusiast but to others she is “the one with pink hair”. Head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Group at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Siouxsie combines her twin passions to understand infectious diseases. In a nutshell, Siouxsie and her team make nasty bacteria glow in the dark. Keen to share her enthusiasm, Siouxsie has made a series of short animations with graphic artist Luke Harris, describing nature’s amazing glowing creatures and the uses of bioluminescence in science. Did you know NASA use fireflies to search for extraterrestrial life (!

Stephanie Zvan

Stephanie Zvan is an atheist and skeptical activist who used to have time to write science fiction on the side. These days, she blogs at Almost Diamonds on the FreethoughtBlogs network, hosts the Atheists Talk radio show on Sunday mornings, and spends a lot of time talking about known unknowns because she thinks it’s fun. Stephanie’s favorite snack is internet trolls.