C. Estelle Smith is a Ph.D. student in GroupLens Research at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Estelle is co-advised by Professors Svetlana (Lana) Yarosh and Haiyi Zhu and supported by the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellowship.

Estelle is currently conducting research along two threads in the discipline of Human-Computer Interaction. The first explores how socio-technical infrastructures support scientific media creation for the general public. The second explores user behavior in online health communities. Exciting future work will explore the intersection between these domains, applying a critical lens to understanding how users consume scientific (mis)information related to health and well-being, and how future technology could help scientists and media professionals do a better job of communicating scientific information to consumers.

Communicating science to lay audiences is fundamentally about storytelling. Communicating science accurately and effectively requires embedding core scientific concepts in narrative structures that are both simple and relatable. This is not easy to do, and most scientists aren’t trained to do it, whereas media professionals are trained to be effective storytellers, but they often do not have rigorous scientific training.

Estelle holds both a B.A. in English (Creative Writing, 2010) and a B.S. in Neuroscience (2015), both from the University of Minnesota. Between degrees, she worked in Marketing at San Francisco tech start-ups from 2011-2013. Upon returning to academia, she took up work as a Freelance Science Writer and Photographer for the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) at the University of Minnesota, producing web copy, blog posts, print features, photo essays, and more. She has also worked with the BioTechnology Institute (BTI) to develop and teach workshops to train future science writers. Empowering others to tell the stories of science through teaching and technology development is a core personal and professional value.

As a result of her highly interdisciplinary academic and professional background, Estelle brings a diverse set of knowledge and skills to her research on technology for science communications. She is a passionate researcher, communicator, and educator dedicated to helping the general public have better access to information and resources related to science, health, and technology.

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