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Alex Kirpatrick to join Alda Center, SoCJ as postdoctoral fellow

Alex KirkpatrickAlex Kirkpatrick (they/them) will be a postdoctoral fellow in communicating statistics at the Alda Center for Communicating Science and the School of Communication and Journalism, effective this summer. Kirkpatrick’s work focuses on how the public understands potential risks related to new scientific discoveries, including vaccines and artificial intelligence, and how misinformation affects those perceptions.

They come to Stony Brook from Washington State’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communication, where they have been conducting original research as well as designing and teaching various communication courses. 

“Alex brings a truly interdisciplinary understanding to science communication and how information sharing impacts the world around us,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the School of Communication and Journalism and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “New scientific discoveries raise complex and sometimes fraught questions. Work like Alex’s can help scientists and science communicators better understand those questions and concerns. Therefore, we are better able to help people navigate new information and make decisions that are right for them and their families.”

As a postdoctoral fellow, Kirkpatrick will work with the faculty at the Alda Center and School to develop and test science communication academic and professional development programs, and to contribute to the fast-growing body of research in science communication and risk. They will also support a growing partnership between the Alda Center and the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee, Scotland. This relationship focuses specifically on understanding and developing science and statistical communication in the explanation of forensic science to legal communities and the public. Alex’s post is funded through the Leverhulme Research Centre with funding from the David and Claudia Harding foundation.

“I am delighted to welcome Alex to our partnership with the Alda Center. The work that they will undertake is of vital importance to the ability of experts to communicate their findings to the public who sit on juries,” said Niamh Nic Daeid, director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee. “Making decisions can only be effective when we understand both the science and what it means in the context of the narrative framework of the circumstances of a case. Alex’s work will help experts communicate this understanding.”

Kirkpatrick wrote two peer-reviewed book chapters and presented their work in nearly a dozen academic conferences. Their research in science communication, risk perception and misinformation, among other topics, has appeared in several journals including Communication Studies, Public Understanding of Science and the Journal of Risk Research.

Kirkpatrick has a bachelor’s degree in physics, astrophysics and cosmology from Lancaster University, a master’s in science communication from the University of the West of England, and a PhD in communication from Washington State University. 

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