Channeling passion into action: NSPN Wiki Scientists

“The public looks to Wikipedia to make informed political decisions. If I can make that information more accurate and complete, that’s a good use of my time.”


When the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) announced that they would be sponsoring a course with us for early career scientists to add science policy information to Wikipedia (in alignment with their NSPN 2020 Election Initiative), the reaction online was excitement. The enthusiasm from early career scientists to take action was contagious and soon we had a robust pool of impressive applicants for the seats sponsored by NSPN. These scientists have been meeting virtually, once a week since September to deliver well-sourced, crucial science policy information to Wikipedia readers everywhere.

Professionals are drawn to take (and organizations are drawn to sponsor) our Wikipedia training courses for a variety of reasons, but almost always those reasons are driven by a passion for freeing up academic knowledge for people to use in their everyday lives. As a Wiki Scientist in a past course put it,


“As an academic, my goal is to produce high-quality data and analyses that can be used to inform policy processes; as an activist, my goal is to ensure that the information generated by those in the academy finds it way into the hands of the people who need to use it. Being a Wiki Scientist provided me a tremendous opportunity to finally fulfill the latter goal.”


We’re thrilled to help channel scientists’ passion to inform the public into concrete action. By collaborating with other early career professionals to drive forward a shared vision, they’re putting their knowledge to great use.

Meet the NSPN Wiki Scientists!

Kate Bredbenner is a graduate student at Rockefeller University in New York City. By day, Kate studies HIV using one-of-a-kind microscopes to learn more about how new HIV viruses are formed. By night, Kate runs a YouTube channel called SimpleBiologist that translates new scientific publications into 5 minute animated videos for adults without science careers. She also works with other science outreach organizations like the BioBus, KnowScience, and the Science Outreach Lab at Rockefeller to connect different communities with science. Kate hopes to edit Wikipedia articles surrounding molecular biology since she frequently and quickly becomes an expert on many topics for her YouTube videos.

Gwendolyn Gallagher is a PhD graduate student at the University of Chicago studying the effects of marine microbes on the global carbon cycle. In her work, she is interested in how microbes survive using phototrophy and the resulting global impacts of these metabolisms. The topic areas she would like to improve on Wikipedia are articles that focus on the intersection of aquatic systems, environmental science, and policy.

Christina Hansen is a developmental biologist and Genetics PhD student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She uses zebrafish and closely related fish species to study maternally-inherited factors responsible for key events, such as germ cell specification, during early embryonic development. Since her work incorporates aspects of molecular biology, genetics/genome editing, and reproductive/developmental biology, she plans to contribute her expertise in these areas to improve related Wikipedia content.

Dilara Kiran is a combined degree DVM/PhD candidate at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Her thesis research seeks to understand how infection with the bacteria that causes tuberculosis alters our immune cells. She is extremely passionate about using science to impact society through both evidence-based policy-making and effective science communication. During this course, Dilara aims to contribute to Wikipedia pages pertaining to global public health, veterinary medicine, zoonotic disease, and One Health.

Jake Krauss is a biologist and science communicator currently working on a PhD in reintroduction biology, or the study of bringing back endangered species from the brink of extinction. He has spent the last five years working in tropical biology and worked in science writing in marine science issues for the National Environmental Education Foundation. He has documented his experiences on his personal blog ( and presented on various environmental science topics on Boiling Point, a science-themed podcast. He looks forward to contributing to articles related to wildlife conservation and the tropics as a Wikipedian citizen-scientist!

Lydia Le Page is a postdoc at the University of California, San Francisco, where she images brain metabolism with MRI to understand neurodegenerative diseases. She is keen to contribute to Wikipedia as it is a fantastic resource for knowledge. She is most excited by democratizing evidence based policy – empowering voters to check politicians’ claims – and helping policy-makers make the best use of research when developing policies.

Katherine Lopez was born and raised in Queens, NY. She graduated from Hunter College with an honors degree in Psychology. She is currently pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine where she aims to decipher how phenotypic adaption to environmental challenges is mediated through epigenetics. One of the topic areas she plans to improve on is the ecology/animal section in Wikipedia where much of the neuroscience research is omitted or outdated. Additionally, she is also interested in expanding sections of the epigenetic page, particularly the psychiatry portion, where new research isn’t described.

Holly Mayton is a co-founder and director of the National Science Policy Network, and holds a PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering with a Designated Emphasis in Public Policy from the University of California, Riverside. In addition to her dissertation work on the fate and transport of colloids in aquatic environments, she has served as a University of California Global Food Initiative Fellow, represented students on the board of the California Agriculture and Food Enterprise (CAFE) at UCR, contributed to several California state advisory committees on environmental science and public outreach, and worked part-time for the California Council on Science and Technology. Holly is passionate about connecting food and water science to policy and advocacy outcomes, from the local to the international level, and aims to improve Wikipedia pages related to food and water security in the U.S. and abroad.

Christopher Miller is currently an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, where he is involved in program management of several inter-agency and public-private collaborations bringing to bear the High Performance Computing capabilities of the D.O.E. to solve Big Data problems in the cancer drug development and Veterans healthcare space. He received his Sc.B. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Brown University and the M.D. degree from the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. He completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in Sleep Medicine, Neurobiology and Epidemiology at Case Western Reserve University, where he investigated the application of entropy analysis algorithms to physiological time-series data to inform predictive modeling of clinical outcomes in patients with respiratory disorders and sleep disordered breathing. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Medical Informatics at the N.I.H. Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communication at the National Library of Medicine where he used natural language processing and semantic predication extraction to visualize and analyze conceptual relationships in Medline text to facilitate literature-based discovery and hypothesis generation. Dr. Miller has biomedical research experience in Immunology and Molecular Virology.

Amy Nippert, graduate student in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota.

Daniel Puentes, graduate student in Physics at Michigan State University.

Brian Redder, graduate student in Soil Science and biogeochemistry at Penn State University.

Jess Rudnick is a fifth year PhD Candidate in the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at UC Davis. Her research interests focus around the human dimension of agricultural-environmental issues, motivated by her desire to contribute to building a more equitable and sustainable food system. For her graduate research, she studied California’s policy approaches to climate-smart agriculture and California farmer decision-making on nitrogen management, for water quality implications. She is excited to join Wiki Scientists to add to the amazing amount of accurate, detailed and free (!) science information available to all online through Wikipedia, and she is especially looking forward to contributing to pages on agriculture, food production and food justice.

Alicia Takaoka, graduate student studying human computer interaction and social informatics at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Maryam Zaringhalam is a molecular biologist by training who now works in science policy, communication, and advocacy, with the goal of increasing access to the products and practice of science. She is a leadership team member of 500 Women Scientists and enrolled in the course to learn how to more effectively improve and create biographies for women and underrepresented minorities in STEM and science policy.

If you’re interested in buying out a customized professional development course for your members or for faculty at your institution, contact Director of Partnerships Jami Mathewson at


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