Christine O’Connell

Assistant Professor of
Communicating Science

Dr. Christine O’Connell is an Assistant Professor of Communicating Science at the School of Journalism. As a scientist with an extensive interdisciplinary background in outreach and communication, she brings a unique perspective to the School of Journalism. She currently teaches and builds research and curriculum initiatives in science communication in collaboration with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, where she has a joint appointment. She received her BS from Cornell University, and PhD in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. In 2018, Dr. O’Connell was named a Women InPower fellow (, a NY based fellowship for rising leaders in business, nonprofits, law, arts, technology, philanthropy, science, and higher education.

Dr. O’Connell is an expert in the field of science communication, policy, and engagement. She provides strategic direction to grow non-profit and academic organizations, research initiatives, and environmental and community campaigns. She was the founding Associate Director at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University where she helped create and build the Center and its curriculum to international acclaim. She led the growth of many of the Alda Center’s flagship programs, including the workshop program and the Flame Challenge. Under her direction, the Alda Center’s workshop program trained thousands of scientists worldwide to be more effective communicators.

Dr. O’Connell helped develop core Alda Center courses including JRN 501 Distilling Your Message, JRN 508 Engaging Key Audiences, JRN 565 Talking Science (for graduate students) and JRN 354 Talking Science (for undergraduates). She recently created a new course, JRN 511 Communicating to Decision Makers, where she teaches students how to connect with policy makers about their research in clear, concise and engaging ways. Dr. O’Connell currently teaches Distilling your message, Talking Science (for graduate students), and Communicating to Decision Makers. In addition, she is an affiliate faculty member and teaches courses/seminars for SBU’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Institute for Advanced Computational Science, and the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program. She has also taught courses environmental communication, oceanography, and marine conservation at several other universities.

Research and Partnerships
Dr. O’Connell’s current research focuses on best practices in Science Communication, Science Policy, Art and Science, Environmental Communication, and Women in STEM. She co-leads an international research collaboration with Australia National University’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science on communication challenges and stereotypes for women in STEM, where she is a visiting Associate Professor. She also designs workshops and research projects on Imposter Syndrome for women in STEM with colleagues at Colorado School of the Mines. In addition, she runs a collaborative research project looking at the connections between art and science, called from Ideation to Actuality.

Dr. O’Connell is a PI on SBU’s Science Training and Research to Inform Decisions (STRIDE) program, where she helped create a new graduate certificate in translating complex science into policy, and is an integral part of the STRIDE evaluation and planning teams. As part of STRIDE she co-designed a new interactive mentoring workshop for STRIDE faculty and trainees and has given several seminars on storytelling and women in STEM, and is the faculty advisor for the STRIDE student blog, Science Appliance.

Christine has organized collaborations across academia, government, and the community – including an initiative between the humanities and sciences at Stony Brook called The Coastlines Initiative. Prior to her time at Stony Brook, Christine worked in the fields of environmental advocacy, community organizing, and public policy. She has been involved with organizing national environmental and political campaigns and teaching community groups in New York City how to refine their message to talk to politicians, raise money, and organize their communities. She is experienced in messaging, government relations, coalition building, campaign planning, coaching and facilitation. Her previous research involved the connections between science and society, with a focus on how we use our oceans (i.e., marine spatial planning, ecosystem-based management, waste management, conservation planning, and ecosystem services).