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Department of Zoology and Physiology

College of Arts and Sciences

Bethann Garramon Merkle

Professor of Practice|Zoology & Physiology and Biodiversity Institute |Biological Sciences, room 408

Research Interests:

I am interested in the integration of the arts and humanities into science education, research, and communication efforts. I am particularly fascinated by the role stories play in shaping public perspectives of science and ecology topics. I am currently conducting research on: 1) efficacy of drawing as a science learning and teaching tool, 2) mechanisms of effective training to enhance scientists’ communications skills, 3) assessment and evaluation of broader impacts and outreach programs, and 4) inclusive teaching practices in science classrooms. This work is conducted with an express goal of enhancing public engagement with science and expanding access to and participation in science through the application of best practices in the science of science communication and in the field of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

Teaching and Professional Development Programs:

Courses: ECOL 5620-02 | ZOO 5890-06 – Visualizing Science (spring, odd years); ECOL 5620-04 | ZOO 5890-08 – Science of Science Communication (fall, odd years); ECOL-5620-10 | ZOO-5890-10 – Creative Approaches to Writing About Science (spring, even years); ZOO/BOT 4100 – Scientific Communication (every fall)

In several capacities, I lead programs and trainings to enhance science communication skills for scientists at all career stages and to enhance and assess broader impacts projects. I also teach courses and workshops for students in undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Through courses and other trainings, I advocate for a diverse, inclusive view of who belongs in science, who has access to science, and who represents science. Communication skills are central to how students and scientists contribute to and share biological science, and I work to cultivate and enhance these skills. As a first-generation student and first-generation academic, I am committed to curriculum design and instructional practices which ensure coursework and trainings are relevant and that participants gain (and are able to articulate and apply) transferable skills which build on their existing knowledge, identities, and self-efficacy. I develop curriculum with the recognition that foundational and advanced skills in writing are fundamental to students’ abilities to share science with peers and beyond academia. Building these skills is a critical way we can support students’ growth as engaged citizens, regardless of their career paths. Furthermore, science writing and communication skills are essential for expanding access to science and enhancing the relevance of the science we do. I am both enthusiastic about, and deeply committed to, supporting scientists at all career levels as they explore how science communication and engagement fit into the spectrum of science-allied careers.

Science Communication and Engagement:

In 2017, I co-founded the UWyo Science Communication Initiative, a grassroots, campus-wide initiative which envisions a campus community that values, supports, and creates effective science communication and engagement. We provide trainings and collaborate to help build a community of science communication practitioners and scientists doing science communication at all career levels. I also collaborate with scientists across campus and beyond to share science effectively in Wyoming and globally. In addition to my work at the University of Wyoming, I co-founded the Communication and Engagement Section of the Ecological Society of America in 2014. I am also the founding editor of the Communicating Science department of The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, ESA's oldest journal. Both of these ESA-related endeavors provide excellent science communication resources for scientists and practitioners working on public engagement and broader impacts efforts.

Professional Service:

Professional service is an integral aspect of how academia functions within and beyond one’s home department and institution, and there are certainly meaningful, productive aspects of service. However, professional service is fraught, particularly for first-generation academics and for individuals who may not be able to afford to work for free (e.g., during their coursework, in non-tenure-track positions, or in careers beyond academia). Further, tenure and promotion practices tend not to fully account for the time and impact of professional service. Thus, it is important to note how service relates to impactful teaching, scholarship, administration, and public engagement work and to make our approach to service inclusive and equitable. Recognizing service is one aspect of doing so.

Through the following service roles, I contribute to national, international, and local initiatives which build scientists’ capacity to effectively and inclusively share science. In these collaborations, I also aim to identify how collective and individual service work can lead to outcomes and products more traditionally valued by academia, including peer-reviewed publications, external grant funding, and professional awards and recognition. My current service includes:

Subject Editor, Integrative Sciences/Science Communication + Zoology, FACETS journal, Royal Canadian Society

Associate Editor, Natural Sciences Education journal

Editor and founder, Communicating Science section, The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America

Consulting editor, Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

Invited, Digital Learning Strategist, Academic Affairs, University of Wyoming

Invited member, Communicating Across the Curriculum Committee, Academic Affairs, University of Wyoming

Co-founder, Scholarly Writing Practices training program, Communicating Across the Curriculum Program, University of Wyoming

Director and co-founder, University of Wyoming Science Communication Initiative

Co-chair and co-founder, UWyo Department of Zoology & Physiology’s initiative to enhance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the department

Co-chair and co-founder, UW Dept. of Z&P fundraising and alumni relations project

Chair, UW Dept. of Z&P academic assessment program

Selected Publications:

Strickland, J., B.G. Merkle, P. Deibert, H. Nikonow, D. Edmunds, S. Soileau, T. Messmer, C. Rose, B. Kenna, and M. McFadzen. 2021 in press. Strategies for Communicating Science chapter, Sagebrush Conservation Strategies, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. In press with the U.S. Geological Society.

Merkle, B.G., B. Barber, and M. Carling. 2020. Drawn to natural history: enhancing field courses with drawing and field journal instruction. Natural Sciences Education 49(1).

Hettinger, A., A. Kumar, T. Eaves, S. Anderson, B.G. Merkle, and S. Bayer. 2019. Extending the Vision: Highlighting the Human Dimensions of the Ecological Society of America. The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 100(3): e01595.

Merkle, B.G. 2019. Writing Science: Best Practices for the Images that Accompany Your Writing. The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 100(2): e01536.

Byerley, P., B.G. Merkle, and M. Hepner. 2019. Renewed Hope for Coastal Marshes in Louisiana. American Scientist 107(2): 98-105.

Merkle, B.G. 2019. Writing Science: Transforming Students’ Science Writing by Tapping into Writing Instruction Scholarship and Best Practices. The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 100(1): e01487.

Merkle, B.G. 2018. Perspective: Drawn to Science. Outlook: Science and Technology Education. Nature 562: S8-S9.

Januchowski-Hartley, S.R., N. Sopinka, N., B.G. Merkle, C. Lux, A. Zivian, P. Goff, and S. Oester. 2018. Poetry as a creative practice to enhance engagement and learning in conservation science. BioScience. Vol 68(10): biy105.

Kauffman, Matthew J., James E. Meacham, Hall Sawyer, Alethea Y. Steingisser, William J. Rudd and Emilene Ostlind. Illustrated by B.G. Merkle and E. Rahel. 2018. Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming's Ungulates. Oregon State University Press.

Christensen, K., B.G. Merkle, and B. Marsicek. 2018. Integrating Art, Science, and Community Engagement: The University of Wyoming Art Museum’s Ballengée Project. Invited case study in Informal Learning Review 148(1): 21-27.

Ellison, A., C. LeRoy, K. Landesbergen, E. Bosanquet, D. B. Borden, P. CaraDonna, K. Cheney, R. Crystal-Ornelas, A. DeFreece, L. Goralnik, E. Irons, B.G. Merkle, K. O'Connell, C. Penick, L. Rustad, M. Schulze, N. Waser, and L. 2018. Art/Science Collaborations: new Explorations of Ecological Systems, Values, and their Feedbacks. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 99(2): 180-191.

Polfus, J.L., D. Simmons, M. Neyelle, W. Bayha, F. Andrew, L. Andrew, B.G. Merkle, K. Rice, and M. Manseau. 2017. Creative Convergence: Exploring Bicultural Diversity through Art. Ecology and Society 22(2): 4.

Krausman, Paul. Illustrated by B.G. Merkle. 2017. And Then There Were None: The Demise of Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. New Mexico State University Press: Albuquerque, NM.

Kinney, K., B.G. Merkle, and S.C. Vélez, eds. 2016. Writing @ 7200 Feet: First-Year College Composition and Rhetoric—Or a Beginner’s Guide to Composing Academic, Civic, and Multimodal Genres. Hayden McNeil: Plymouth, MI.

Exhibitions and Major Commissions:

Merkle, B.G. 2019. Thunder comin’ in; Hayfield Rosé; Wild Rose(hipsters). Juried selection of artwork for Lander public art project (beautifying electrical boxes). AT Lander Arts and Sciences, Lander, WY.

Merkle, B.G. 11/2017-1/2018. An Ecologically True Story: Rethinking the Tale of the Tortoise and the Hare. Solo multimedia exhibition featuring graphite drawings, watercolors, monotype prints, new media sculptures, installations, and creative writing interpretive text and audios. Biodiversity Institute, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY.

Merkle, B.G. 2017-2018. “School of the High Plains.” Laramie, WY (off campus). I was one of 13 artists commissioned by the Laramie Mural Project to design and paint a component of the expansion of the downtown Laramie “Gill Street” mural, which features fish designed to evoke Wyoming icons.

Merkle, B.G. 2007. Visceral Biogeography. Solo photography exhibit of photographs printed on linen, using traditional, wet darkroom techniques. Liquid Planet, Missoula, MT.




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