Dr Merryn McKinnon

Honours Convener
Communication & Engagement Research Fellow
Peter Baume Building 42a,
 +61 2 6125 4951


Career awards

  • Vice-Chancellor's Award for Public Policy and Outreach, 2015


BSc Hons (Marine Science), Grad Dip (Sci Comm), Masters Journalism, PhD (Sci Comm)


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.

Merryn believes that communication is an essential part of the scientific process, and crucial for change

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. She is now the science communcation coordinator for the 2018 Homeward Bound intake, providing those future leaders with science communication skills, training and experiences.




Research interests

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.


Supervisory Chair

Principal investigator




Merryn is the lecturer for Science in the Media and Health Promotion and Protection and convenes the Honours program.

She is also a regular presenter of some of CPAS's short courses.



Peer-reviewed journal papers


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

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