Illustration (c) 2016, B.G. Merkle

Art-science synergy:

“Ecologically True Story”TM projects demonstrate the value of fully integrating the arts in communicating ecology/ecological research stories.

A body of research and a field of practice point to the importance of science communication, but much of this work is contingent upon the assumption that an audience is at least somewhat interested in science/ecology topics. “Ecologically True Story”TM projects assume only that everyone loves a familiar story. Herein lays a striking opportunity to engage with audiences that might otherwise not consider pressing science/ecology topics like biodiversity and science literacy. Indeed, publications, exhibits, and presentations on this material have the potential to deeply engage broad audiences in complex ecological themes.

About the Artist/Writer:

My name is Bethann Garramon Merkle, and I am an artist and science communicator. I am as a writer and illustrator passionate about ecology and ecosystems, I find storytelling a fascinating portal for communicating about important topics such as biodiversity, landscape conservation, and human-wildlife interactions.


I aim to create a seamless blend of art and writing which honors and builds upon the legacies of artist-scientists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, John James Audubon, Maria Sybilla Merian, and Lewis and Clark. Furthermore, I am inspired by contemporary greats in ecology, such as E.O. Wilson and Jonathan Kingdon, who advocate adamantly for drawing in ecological studies. I am also informed by a body of modern research documenting the efficacy of writing and drawing for learning about science and nature.

Professional Experience:
  • I have worked for over a decade as a science educator, naturalist, illustrator, and journalist/writer.
  • My professional affiliations include:
    • Co-founding the Ecological Society of America’s Science Communication Section (webmaster 2014-present, secretary 2015-2016, chair-elect 2016-2017).
    • Co-chair of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators‘ Drawing in Science Education Toolkit development committee (2014-present).
    • University of Wyoming Science Initiative Fellowship Program (active learning/teaching mentor/co-facilitator, 2016-2017)
    • University of Wyoming MFA Creative Writing Program (MFA candidate, nonfiction, 2015-2017)
    • Memberships:  Ecological Society of America, Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, National Association of Science Writers, The Wildlife Society, Urban Sketchers International
  • My detailed resume/CV is available online at: http://commnatural.com/portfolio/resume-cv/.