Public Outreach

Having worked in children’s education before beginning my graduate studies, I am a proponent of education and public outreach, especially with youth. Below are my volunteer and science promotion activities, starting with the most recent!

WISEAtlantic Mentorship

I volunteer as a representative of the WISEAtlantic program for science promotion and outreach, particularly to inspire young women to get involved with STEM and STEAM.

Speaking with young women about embryology and turtles at Techsploration 2018.

So far, I’ve been a role model/mentor to high school students at Techsploration 2018 and at STEMfest 2018!

Canadian Association for Girls in Science: LEGO Workshop

I joined CAGIS on Nov 28th for a workshop in designing LEGO vehicles and buildings! Girls learned about physics and architecture in this fun challenge-based workshop. Check out a test run of one of the cars:

Canadian Association for Girls in Science – “Fix and Release” Film Screening and Turtle Conservation Talks

I created and led a film screening for Director and Producer Scott Dobson’s film “Fix and Release” with the Canadian Association for Girls in Science (CAGIS). We started with a talk by Scott himself, and then finished with a Q&A session from Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre’s Donnell Gasbarrini on turtle research, finding your path in science, and veterinary science.

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“Our Fragile Planet”/Sigma Xi Lecture Series at the Toronto Public Library

The free, open-to-the-public “Our Fragile Planet” lecture series focuses on the environment and how community members can help protect it. I gave a turtle talk on conservation and my research on October 11th at the Beaches Library branch as part of the Sigma Xi University of Toronto lectures.

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Science Literacy Week at Brentwood Library

Science Literacy Week is a celebration of science in Canada. It runs from September 18-24. I presented my research, information on turtle conservation, as well as some demos on turtles for children, at Brentwood Library on September 19th from 2-4 pm.


Scientific Illustration Workshop with the Canadian Association for Girls in Science

May 27th, 2017

Viviana and I have the pleasure of designing a workshop hosted at the Royal Ontario Museum for the Toronto chapter of CAGIS, the Canadian Association for Girls in Science. This workshop discusses the history of scientific illustration, outlines artistic techniques, touches upon phylogenetics, and finishes with a discussion on the role of women in scientific illustration.

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NASA Space Parachutes with the Canadian Association for Girls in Science

18199089_1384862554905735_3901786038117033952_n April 29th, 2017

I  volunteered with CAGIS (the Canadian Association for Girls in Science) to help young girls make parachutes, NASA-style, at the Toronto Reference Library April 29th 2017.

Atwood Colloquium

April 7th and 8th, 2017

Question sesh after the presentation.
I’m happier than I look, I swear!

I presented my M. Sc. research at the University of Toronto’s Atwood Colloquium, an event hosted by the department of Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, where researchers share cutting edge science.

Learning Unlimited Oxford

March 29, 2017

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A lecture series aimed at older adults that has an 8-week program once yearly. I presented new research and also discussed community conservation. We had a wonderful turnout and I was very happy to talk to the community about helping Snappers!

St. Catharines Loves Snapping Turtles!

March 2017

I worked with a school group to help develop projects that would benefit snapping turtle conservation in the St. Catharines and Niagara region. Here are some highlights of their work!

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Students engineered and built nest cages that will be used to protect turtle nests in the Niagara region, made brochures with information on how to help injured snapping turtles  and delivered them to local boating and angling stores. They even presented their findings to their local MP, who agreed to help them stop the Snapping Turtle hunt in Ontario!

Students meet with local MP, Dean Allison who graciously took time to listen to them present about the unsustainable Snapping Turtle hunt in Ontario, and agreed to help end it!

Turtle Nesting and Conservation

November 23rd 2016, Beacon Christian School

I recently designed a children’s lab focusing on turtle nesting and conservation. This lab shows children how Snapping Turtles make their nests, and asks them questions such as “how do these structures help protect the eggs?” This lab also teaches children how to identify Ontario species by using morphological clues. Finally, children will be able to make their own dioramas of a Snapper nest in cross-section as a science-meets-arts-and-crafts project.

Student showing off her well-decorated nest!

Past Presentation: “Climate Change and Sex Ratios in Snapping Turtles”

September 13th, 2016 at the Ingersoll District Nature Club

Media coverage:

This presentation outlined challenges turtles with TSD face, in addition to other conservation threats such as habitat loss and road accidents. It encouraged the public to get involved with ending the Snapping Turtle Hunt, taught them how to help turtles cross the road, and how to identify Ontario Turtles.


Past Presentation: “Dinosaurs and the Earliest Birds”

April 1st, 2016 at Beverly Central Elementary School

 “Melanie’s presentation to the Beverly Central JK -5 students on how recent research shows that dinosaurs originated from birds was clear, highly motivating and easy to understand. The kid-friendly visuals, questions and samples really brought home new science to the students. Melanie’s enthusiasm, obvious mastery of the material and ability to answer any student question was spectacular!”

– Doug Dunford, Principal

An interactive presentation at the Grade 1-5 level that described the fossil links between dinosaurs and birds as an illustration of evolution, as well as variation in dinosaurs. Children were encouraged to discuss similarities and differences in morphology (e.g. feathers) and behaviour (e.g. mating dances). Children learned about the history of the discovery of transition fossils such as oviraptor.


Past Scientific Illustration For the Public: Redpath Museum Society Logo

February 2015

RMS Website: Redpath Museum Society Blog

The Redpath Museum Society of McGill University was started in 2005 by Donald Fowler and is currently run by Anthony Zerafa. Their mission is to educate the public and build a community centered on scientific interest at the Museum. I designed this logo for the RMS in 2015.


Past Scientific Illustration for the Public: McGill University Natural History Minor T-Shirt

December 2014

In order to connect the students of the natural history minor at McGill University, I designed this T-shirt that illustrates the beauty and variety of nature, with references to poignant natural history stories, including that of Darwin’s moth, the coelacanth, and the gingko tree.


T-shirt in action!