Award-Winning Science Journalist Joins SMPA Faculty

Lisa Lesch Palmer will be the inaugural National Geographic Visiting Professor of Science Communication, starting in the spring 2020 semester.

Lisa Palmer
Science journalist Lisa Lesch Palmer will join SMPA's faculty this spring. (Courtesy photo)
January 06, 2020

The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs announced that award-winning environmental and science journalist Lisa Lesch Palmer will be joining its faculty.

Ms. Palmer has written for numerous publications and authored Hot, Hungry Planet, which chronicles her travels around the world and the urgent innovations needed to feed a growing population. As the inaugural National Geographic Visiting Professor of Science Communication, she will hold office hours in SMPA to work with and mentor students. She also will work with Planet Forward, participate in SMPA events and serve as a liaison with National Geographic for student opportunities and institutional engagement.

Thanks to the long-standing relationship between Planet Forward and the National Geographic Society, a fund was established to bring in a visiting professor of science communication to teach one course per semester starting spring 2020. One class will be intended for journalism majors and the other for science communications majors. Both will help students understand and build compelling narratives around the science that explains the world and feeds discovery that lifts human knowledge to new levels. 

"We are thrilled to partner with the School of Media and Public Affairs to bring in its first visiting professor of science communication," said Kaitlin Yarnall, senior vice president and chief storytelling officer at the National Geographic Society. "It's more important than ever that we equip students with the skills needed to tell stories about the issues facing our planet today and in the future."

Ms. Palmer comes to SMPA with an extensive background in science communications. She has spent the past four years working for the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) serving as a senior fellow for Socio-Environmental Understanding where she writes and speaks on socio-environmental issues.

She is a journalist, author and producer at Palmer Media and writes for major publications that cover topics like team science, climate change and social sciences. Her writing has been featured in The Guardian, Scientific American, the New Republic, Nature journals, Yale e360, Slate, The New York Times, as well as many others. She also co-produced two Research in Action videos titled Water and Governance and Planet Pests that talk about the SESYNC process. 

“It is important for journalists and communicators alike to be able to take the discovery and the data of science and find the compelling narratives that can engage a wider audience,” said Frank Sesno, director of SMPA. “I am excited for Lisa Lesch Palmer to join our team. I am deeply grateful to the National Geographic Society for their partnership and their enthusiasm in making this a reality.”

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