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Sheril Kirshenbaum  

Popular Science Expert & Conservationist

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public.

Kirshenbaum serves as a science advisor to NPR’s Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Brian Lehrer Show and The Bob Edwards Show.

Kirshenbaum is the author of The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, a wonderfully witty and fascinating exploration of how and why we kiss. When did humans begin to kiss? Why is kissing integral to some cultures and alien to others? Do good kissers make the best lovers? And is that expensive lip-plumping gloss worth it? In the book and at the podium, she tackles these questions and more. It’s everything you always wanted to know about kissing but either haven’t asked, couldn’t find out, or didn’t realize you should understand.

Kirshenbaum is also the co-author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, with Chris Mooney. It explains how corporate interests, a weak education system, science-phobic politicians, and hyperspecialized scientists have created this dangerous state of affairs. They also propose a broad array of initiatives that could reverse the current trend and lead to the greater integration of science into our national discourse—before it is too late.

Kirshenbaum contributes to popular publications including New Scientist, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society, from climate change to genetically modified foods. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010.

In 2006 Kirshenbaum served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, she was a research associate at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects.

Kirshenbaum is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician.

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