Laura Lindenfeld, director for the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York, will give the keynote address at the 2017 Virginia Tech Graduate School Commencement ceremony at 2:30 p.m. on May 11, in Cassell Coliseum on the Blacksburg campus.

Lindenfeld joined the Alda Center as director and as a professor in the school of journalism in March 2016. She has been involved with the Alda Center since 2013, when she attended its Summer Institute for faculty.

The center, established in 2009 as part of the journalism school, “empowers scientists and health professionals to communicate complex topics in clear, vivid, and engaging ways; leading to improved understanding by the public, media, patients, elected officials, and others outside of their own discipline,” according to the center’s website.

The center, which uses a range of innovative techniques, including theater exercises, as part of its training, inspired Virginia Tech’s graduate communicating science classes and new Center for Communicating Science.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Lindenfeld as the Graduate School commencement speaker,” said Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw. “The Alda Center’s commitment to fostering effective, engaging communications is inspiring. Now more than ever, our graduates must be able to communicate their work with a wide range of audiences, whether they work in academe or in other professional fields.”

Prior to joining the Alda Center, Lindenfeld directed the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, a nonpartisan, independent research unit of the University of Maine, which aimed to inform public policy and societal decision-making.

Much of her research has focused on environmental communication, especially in the area of sustainability. Lindenfeld is passionate about supporting scientists to communicate their work in more direct and engaging ways.

Her work focuses on how we can advance meaningful, productive interactions with communities, stakeholders and decision-makers by strengthening linkages between knowledge and action. She also encourages efforts to build strong interdisciplinary teams that can communicate their work effectively and persuasively.

Lindenfeld holds a Ph.D. in cultural studies from the University of California, Davis. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Ecology & Society, Environmental Communication, Sustainability Science, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, and Food & Foodways. She and co-author Fabio Parasecoli wrote, "Feasting Our Eyes. Food Films, and Cultural Identity in the United States," published in 2016 by Columbia University Press.

The commencement website has a complete schedule of all departmental and college convocation ceremonie. Virginia Tech will offer live streaming video of both the Graduate School Commencement and University Commencement ceremonies from the university homepage.

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