In Autumn 2015, CapSciComm organized its inaugural Board of Directors and reviewed its founding mission and vision. The purpose of this team is to collaborative lead our professional community in our public service mission and vision:

Mission: To connect science communicators across all professions in the Capital Region with resources and networks for professional advancement. 

Vision: Sustained science literacy among citizens and decisionmakers in the Capital Region through the support of science communication professionals.

Board members serve on a volunteer basis, and the inaugural board was assembled by invitation. Board members serve to innovate and oversee our professional community needs and mission progress, but many leadership opportunities remain for any interested CapSciComm member, as projects and activities get planned each year.

If you have feedback or ideas regarding CapSciComm activities, or would simply like to get in touch with the CapSciComm Board, please e-mail us at admin@capscicomm.org Thanks!

CapSciComm 2018 Board Members

Executive Co-Chair
Ben Young Landis, 
Creative Externalities
LinkedIn | MuckRack | @younglandis

I am a science writer and creative consultant based in Sacramento. I have previously worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, California Council on Science and Technology, and the Orange County Register, and nowadays you can also find me around the Capital Region helping with scicomm seminars and media coaching sessions for researchers.

As the founder of Capital Science Communicators, I’ve led our network and grown its membership and mission since 2013. Working with our CapSciComm Board, I hope to truly expand the reach and resources of our professional community, so we can cultivate a vibrant and responsible corps of science communicators to benefit the growth and progress of the Capital Region. Outside of CapSciComm, you can often find me at the Sunday Farmer’s Market in Sacramento, or typing away at Tiferet Coffee House. Come up and say hello!

Executive Co-Chair
Nick Gray, 
Water Education Foundation
Website | @WaterEdFdn

Nick GrayAlthough my degree is in biology, I discovered my vocation in science communication as an AmeriCorps volunteer following college.

After 15 years of teaching formal science in the classroom and informal science at the World of Wonders Science Museum, I’ve joined the Water Education Foundation to coordinate their water tours across the region. Since my arrival in the greater Sacramento region, I have enjoyed connecting with our science outreach and science communication professional network, working closely with new colleagues to bring strategy and attention to events such as science cafés and “science idol” contests — as well as leading scicomm training workshops for student researchers and other science professionals.

I am excited to transition from my previous role as CapSciComm Public Science Chair, and help guide our professional community as CapSciComm Co-Executive Chair!

Professional Membership Chair
Becky Oskin, UC Davis
LinkedIn | Website | @beckyoskin

BeckyOskinI handle communications and marketing for several UC Davis science departments. Previously, I worked as a science reporter and in media relations; most recently, I covered geology and climate change for LiveScience.com. A career highlight was seeing Mars through the Mount Wilson telescope while reporting on Ray Bradbury’s birthday party.

My role with CapSciComm is to cultivate and expand our membership among journalism and public affairs professionals in the Capital Region. Communications professionals working in media, government, academia, industry, and nonprofits in greater Sacramento are invited to be part of our CapSciComm community!

Professional Development Chair
Nir Oksenberg, Delta Stewardship Council


Nir OksenbergI am a professional science communicator for the Delta Stewardship Council, a California state agency. Our goals are to achieve a more reliable water supply for California while protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. To help our agency meet these goals, I foster productive communication among scientists, the public, water managers, and policymakers.

After earning a PhD in human genetics from the University of California, San Francisco, I began my postdoc at UC Davis studying the rice response to bacteria, flooding, and drought. I chose to join Pamela Ronald’s lab for my postdoc because I knew I would have opportunities to pursue science communication and teaching efforts, which were becoming increasingly important to me.

Joining CapSciComm helped me get my current job! I am thrilled to be the Professional Development Chair and help others enhance their careers through science communication.

Journalism Chair
Emily Underwood, Freelance Science Journalist

LinkedIn | Website | @em_underwood

Emily UnderwoodI am a freelance science journalist and correspondent for Science magazine, where I was a staff neuroscience and mental health reporter for four years. I’ve also written for a number of other publications, including Smithsonian, Science News, High Country News, and Knowable. I write about health and inequality, earth science, the environment, and spiders. When I’m not writing, I’m usually out hiking or boating in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

My role with CapSciComm is to cultivate the community of journalists who write about science in the Capital Region, and advance science journalism in our area. If you’re a working journalist who covers scientific research — or want to — come to our events! You’ll meet other science journalists, as well as an eclectic group of researchers, sci-comm experts, and policy wonks.

Capitol Chair
Debra Cooper, 
California State Senate
LinkedIn | @postdoctabird

Debra Cooper, PhDI am a principal consultant in the California State Senate Appropriations Committee, analyzing the fiscal impacts that bills would have on the state. I initially came to Sacramento in 2014 as a CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellow. Outside of work, I try to fill my time, salsa dancing, hiking, or reading a good book.

My role with CapSciComm is to be a bridge between the public policy entities within California and our science communicator community.

At-Large Chair
Dharia McGrew, 
California Dental Association
LinkedIn | Website | @DhariaMcGrew

mcgrew head shotI was formerly a senior policy consultant in the California State Assembly Health Committee, where I analyzed legislation relating to biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, public health (communicable diseases), food safety, and health disparities in underserved communities. I came to public policy in Sacramento as a 2012 CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellow, spending my fellowship year placed in the Office of Assembly member Wieckowski and the Committee on Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials, where I worked on issues relating to drinking water safety, higher education, health, and consumer protections.

I earned a PhD from Brandeis University in Molecular & Cell Biology and a BA in biology from Mount Holyoke College. I have more than 10 years of experience as a laboratory researcher studying genetics, vision disease, and cancer biology, with additional career experience including teaching, publishing, and working in an industrial glue factory. I have lived all over the United States, from Alaska to the U.S. Virgin Islands, spending 16 years in Massachusetts before returning to her home state of California.

I have served as Capitol Chair on the CapSciComm Board since 2015. I’m excited for Debra Cooper to step into that role, as I continue to serve on the Board and help our community grow!


Communications Chair

The Communications Chair manages all CapSciComm online content, social media accounts, as well as producing The Pepper, our email newsletter. The position is time-intensive and requires editorial experience, but plays a critical part in curating CapSciComm resources for our community. Members interested in filling this position should email capscicomm@gmail.com.


  • Sarah Barnes, Public Science Chair 2018
  • Don Gibson, Student Membership Chair 2015-2018
  • Andrea Graffis, Managing Chair, 2015-2017
  • Katie Rodger, PhD, Professional Development Chair, 2017
  • Candace Spier Bever, PhD, Professional Development Chair, 2015-2016