About

20161029_bgm-drawing-hare-specimens_v1_rs

Illustration (c) 2016, B.G. Merkle

Art-science synergy:

“Ecologically True Story”TM projects investigate 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 and engagement, 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 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.

Inspiration

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-founder of the Ecological Society of America’s Science Communication Section (webmaster 2014-present, secretary 2015-2016, chair-elect 2016-2017, chair 2017-2018).
    • Co-chair of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators‘ Drawing in Science Education Toolkit development committee (2014-present).
    • Teaching Mentor for the University of Wyoming Science Initiative’s Learning Actively Teaching Fellowship Program (2016-2017)
    • University of Wyoming MFA Creative Writing Program (MFA, nonfiction, 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/.