“Ecologically True Story”TM projects emphasize the value of fully integrating the arts in communicating ecology/ecological research stories. These projects explore the role stories play in shaping public perspectives of science and ecology topics.


I am currently working on the following research and creative scholarship projects.

Ecological Concepts in Children’s Books: In progress visual critique/content analysis of Caldecott Medal-winning books and turn-of-the-century western children’s books (held in the University of Wyoming’s Toppan Rare Books Collection). A research presentation on this topic was presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Anticipated products: an academic article for submission in a journal such as Biology Teacher, along with workshops which will facilitate discussions between librarians, teachers, children’s book creators, and biologists. View project details.

The Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare: In progress. Research is on-going in Arizona, East Africa, and Europe. Existing and anticipated products: a multimedia project and exhibition a) investigating the conservation and social/cultural issues in ecosystems where tortoises and hares co-exist, and b) illustrating the value of utilizing a multidisciplinary method for researching and telling this story. View project details.

Pica Tidings: Pica Tidings. In progress. The black-billed magpie (Pica pica) and magpies around the world have long been creatures of lore, omen, portent. This project entails researching historical, cultural, and scientific perspectives on magpies. Anticipated products: Long-form essay submitted to Orion Magazine. View project details.

School of the High Plains: A public art mural I designed and painted, as part of a collaborative expansion of a community mural in Laramie, Wyoming. My design emphasized the resilience and striking appearance of pronghorn – a unique species endemic to the high plains of North America. View project details.

Hunting for a Sense of Place: Exploring Ecology, Myth, and Ritual on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front.

In progress. This heavily researched, book-length collection of personal essays focuses on the role of storytelling in one’s a) development of ecological knowledge, b) engagement in a local landscape and socio-cultural history, and c) hunting and gardening as central ways of engaging in an ecosystem and historical issues. Current and anticipated products: master’s thesis submitted in partial completion of requirements for an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Wyoming, 5/2017); anticipated publication of essays published in outlets such as Orion and Ecotone; anticipated book publication.

Science Communication and Engagement at the University of Wyoming

These are two survey-based studies coupled with professional development initiatives. See details below.

  1. Barber, B., G. Merkle, K. Landreville, and J. Crait. Student Attitudes, Capabilities, and Motivations Before and after a Science Communication Course. 2017-present; in progress. IRB exempt, #20170824BB01656.
  2. Landreville, K., G. Merkle, B. Barber, and K. Vaughan. UW Public Engagement and Communication Survey. A survey to quantify University of Wyoming campus-wide attitudes, capabilities, and motivations for public engagement and communication about research and creative scholarship activities. 2018-present; in progress; IRB exempt, # 20180104KL01819