Dr Merryn McKinnon's original degree was in marine science where, after the novelty of moving intertidal snails with a paint scraper wore off, she discovered that she preferred talking about her research much more than doing it.
This led her to the field of science communication in 2001 where she has stayed ever since, working largely with Questacon in Canberra, Australia, and also private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and overseas. She has explored the field of science communication quite broadly, working as a presenter, evaluator, event manager, marketing consultant and media trainer. Her experience outside of academia shapes her teaching, embedding her courses in 'real world' scenarios with an emphasis on engaging students in practical application of theory wherever possible.
She was one of 76 women selected to participate in the inaugural journey of Homeward Bound - a state of the art leadership and strategy initiative for women in science. She hopes to take the skills and lessons from Homeward Bound and transfer them to her students to help equip them to be effective leaders in their chosen career paths.
The relationship between science, publics and the media; public engagement in science inlcuding influences on beliefs and perceptions of science; factors affecting interpretation and understanding of communication messages; informal education; health communication and the impact of science communication training and activities.
Peer-reviewed journal papers
- McKinnon, M., Howes, J., Leach, A. & Prokop, N. (2017). Perils and positives of science journalism in Australia, Public Understanding of Science, Online First, DOI: 10.1177/096362517701589
- McKinnon, M., & Bryant, C. (2017) Thirty years of a science communication course in Australia: Genesis and evolution of a degree, Science Communication, 39:2, 169 - 194. DOI: 10.1177/1075547017696166
- McKinnon, M., Semmens, D., Moon, B., Amarasekara, I. & Boillet, L. (2016) Science, Twitter and election campaigns: Tracking #auspol in the Australian federal elections, Journal of Science Communication, 15:06, A04
- McKinnon, M. & Perera, S. (2015) The Big Picture: Pre-service teachers' perceptions of 'expert' science teachers, Teaching Science, 61:4. pp 32 - 45.
- McKinnon, M. & Vos, J. (2015) Engagement as a threshold concept for science education and science communication, International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement, 5:4. pp 297 - 318. DOI: 10.1080/21548455.2014.986770
- McKinnon, M., Orthia, L.A., Grant, W.J., Lamberts, R. (2014) From generic skills to real world assessment: Building an undergraduate science communication program, International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 22:5, pp 1 - 13.
- McGillion, C., & McKinnon, M. (2014) Participatory theatre as a science communication tool in Timor Leste. Science Communication, 36:4. pp 502 - 510. DOI: 10.1177/1075547014533663
- McKinnon, M., Moussa-Inaty, J., & Barza, L. (2014) Science teaching self-efficacy of culturally foreign teachers: A baseline study in Abu Dhabi. International Journal of Educational Research, vol 66. pp 78 - 89. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijer.2014.03.001
- McKinnon, M. & Lamberts R. (2014) Influencing science teaching self-efficacy beliefs of primary school teachers: a longitudinal case study. International Journal of Science Education Part B: Communication and Public Engagement, 4:2, 172 - 194. DOI:10.1080/21548455.2013.793432
- McKinnon, M., Barza, L. & Moussa-Inaty, J. (2013) Public versus private education in primary science: The case of Abu Dhabi schools. International Journal of Educational Research, vol 62. pp 51 - 61. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijer.2013.13.06.07
- Thomas, J., Raynor, M. & McKinnon M. (2013) Academic integrity and oral examination: an Arabian Gulf perspective. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51:5, pp 533 - 543. DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2013.796724
Peer-reviewed encyclopaedia entries/book reviews/book chapters
- McKinnon, M. & Vos, J. (2016) Crossing a Threshold. In Maarten C.A. van der Sanden & Marc J. de Vries (Eds), Science and Technology Education and Communication: Seeking Synergy, (pp 27 - 46). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers
- McKinnon, M. (2014) Layperson's guide to pandemics, Review of Pandemics, by Prof Peter Doherty, Medical Journal of Australia, 200:5, 297. DOI: 10.5694/mja13.00232
- McKinnon, M. (2010) David Attenborough. In Susanna Hornig Priest (Ed), Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication, (pp 71 - 72). California: Sage Publications.
- McKinnon, M. (2010) Thomas Kuhn. In Susanna Hornig Priest (Ed), Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication, (pp 435 - 437). California: Sage Publications.
- McKinnon, M. (2010) Edward Teller. In Susanna Hornig Priest (Ed), Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication, (pp 884 - 885). California: Sage Publications.
Peer-reviewed conference proceedings
- Durant, G. & McKinnon, M. (2016, September). Developing science communicators in Australia through a university-science centre-industry partnership: The Shell Questacon Science Circus. Paper presented at the Public Communication of Science and Technology Symposium - “Science communication as a profession: formal training, responsibilities and roles”, San Jose, Costa Rica, 28 - 30 September.
- Moussa-Inaty, J., Barza, L. & McKinnon, M. (2014, April). A Closer Look at Science Education in Abu Dhabi Primary Schools Through Teacher Self-Efficacy. Paper 184, Conference Proceedings, presented at American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2014 Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, United States of America, 3 – 7 April 2014.
- McKinnon, M. (2010, December). Motivator, Supporter, Trainer: Science Centres and their Role with Primary School Teachers. Conference Proceedings, Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST), 11th Annual Conference, New Delhi, India.
Popular writing/opinion pieces
- Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Leach, L. & McKinnon, M. What the ABC's new Catalyst could mean for science on TV. The Conversation, 4 November 2016.
- McKinnon, M. How to keep more women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Conversation, 13 July 2016.
- McKinnon, M. & Walker, L. Teachers are leaving the profession - here's how to make them stay. The Conversation, 11 January 2016.
- McKinnon, M. (2014, 10 May) Shells in a nutshell, Ask Fuzzy, Canberra Times.
- Barnard, K. & McKinnon, M. (2013, July-August) Partnering to build capacity in Indonesian science centers, Dimensions, vol 15 (4), pp 42 – 47. Washington: Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC).
- Grant, W.J. & McKinnon, M. Australians seem to be getting dumber - but does it matter? The Conversation, 17 July 2013.