Associate Professor Merryn McKinnon

Associate Professor
Associate Dean of Education (College of Science)
BSc Hons (Marine Science), Grad Dip (Sci Comm), Masters Journalism, PhD (Sci Comm)

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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 talking about her research to other people brought her far closer to her conservation goals than her actual project ever could.

This led her to the field of science communication where she has stayed ever since, working in a range of roles and countries. Merryn enjoys the diverse issues science communication allows her to explore, and the creativity and problem solving it requires.

Merryn has worked and conducted qualitative and quantitative research nationally and internationally, in both non-academic and academic roles. She worked as a science communicator for a decade before entering academia, and uses her professional knowledge combined with her theoretical expertise to inform her own teaching and practice in the media and in developing and delivering communication workshops to researchers and policy makers.

Merryn's research contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between science, media and publics. She also explores the influence of equity, inclusion and intersectionality in STEM, especially STEM communication.


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;
  • The impact of science communication training and activities with a particular focus on gender;
  • intersectionality, diversity and inclusion in STEM disciplines


Teaching information

Merryn is the lecturer for Science in the Media (SCOM2016/6016), Health Promotion and Protection (POPH6115), and Health Promotion Principles and Practice (SCOM3033). A core focus of her teaching is providing students with opportunity to practice the skills 'in the real world' through working with partners both within and external to the ANU.

She convenes the Honours program and is also a regular presenter of some of CPAS's short courses.


Peter Baume Building 42a


  • Shellock, R, Cvitanovic, C, Mackay, M et al. 2022, 'Breaking down barriers: The identification of actions to promote gender equality in interdisciplinary marine research institutions', One Earth, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 687-708.
  • McKinnon, M & O'Connell, C 2021, 'Perceptions of barriers to career progression for academic women in stem', Societies, vol. 11, no. 2.
  • Judd, K & McKinnon, M 2021, 'A Systematic Map of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity in Science Communication Research: Do We Practice what We Preach?', Frontiers in Communication, vol. 6.
  • McKinnon, M & O'Connell, C 2021, 'Communication: The Bridge Between Knowledge and Implementation', in Ferreira, CC & Klutsch, CFC (eds.), Closing the Knowledge-Implementation Gap in Conservation Science, Springer Cham, Switzerland AG, pp. 172-197.
  • Kapoor, A & McKinnon, M 2021, 'The elephant in the room: tackling taboos in women’s healthcare', Journal of Science Communication, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 1-10.
  • Thomas , C, MacMillan, C, McKinnon, M et al. 2021, 'Seeing and Overcoming the Complexities of Intersectionality', Challenges, vol. 12, no. 5, p. 13.
  • Orthia LA, McKinnon M, Viana JN & Walker GJ 2021, 'Reorienting science communication towards communities', Journal of Science Communication, 20(3): A12. DOI: 10.22323/2.20030212
  • McKinnon, M & O'Connell, C 2020, 'Perceptions of stereotypes applied to women who publicly communicate their STEM work', Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, vol. 7, no. 1.
  • Navarro, K & McKinnon, M 2020, 'Challenges of communicating science: Perspectives from the Philippines', Journal of Science Communication, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. -.
  • McKinnon, M 2020, 'The absence of evidence of the effectiveness of Australian gender equity in STEM initiatives', Australian Journal of Social Issues.
  • O'Connell, C, McKinnon, M & LaBouff, J 2020, 'One size does not fit all: gender implications for the design of outcomes, evaluation and assessment of science communication programs', Journal of Science Communication, vol. 19, no. 1.
  • Phiddian, E, Hoepner, J & McKinnon, M 2020, 'Can interactive science exhibits be used to communicate population health science concepts?', Critical Public Health, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 257-269.
  • Rowbotham, S, McKinnon, M, Marks, L et al 2019, 'Research on media framing of public policies to prevent chronic disease: A narrative synthesis', Social Science and Medicine, vol. 237, pp. 1-10.
  • McDonald, I & McKinnon, M 2019, 'Communicating biosecurity information to Australian-registered veterinarians', Australian Veterinary Journal, vol. 97, no. 10, pp. 394-397.
  • McKinnon, M, Black, B, Bobillier, S et al. 2019, 'Stakeholder relations in Australian science journalism', Public Understanding of Science, vol. 28, no. 5, pp. 554-571.
  • Mitchell, M & McKinnon, M 2019, ''Human' or 'objective' faces of science? Gender stereotypes and the representation of scientists in the media', Public Understanding of Science, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 177-190.
  • McKinnon, M, Howes, J, Leach, A et al 2018, 'Perils and positives of science journalism in Australia', Public Understanding of Science, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 562-577.
  • Dunn, M & McKinnon, M 2018, 'How can university sexual health promotion events reach those most at risk? A cross-sectional study', Sexual Health, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 304-311.
  • McKinnon, M, Ahmad, M, Bongers, M et al 2018, 'Media coverage of lethal control: A case study of kangaroo culling in the Australian Capital Territory', Human Dimensions of Wildlife, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 90-99.
  • Rowbotham, S, McKinnon, M, Leach, J & Lamberts, R 2017, 'Does citizen science have the capacity to transform population health science? [IN PRESS]', Critical Public Health, vol. Online, pp. 1-12.
  • McKinnon, M & Bryant, C 2017, 'Thirty Years of a Science Communication Course in Australia: Genesis and Evolution of a Degree', Science Communication, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 169-194pp.
  • McKinnon, M & Orthia, LA 2017, 'Vaccination communication strategies: What have we learned, and lost, in 200 years?', Journal of Science Communication, vol. 16, no. 3, A08.
  • McKinnon, M & Vos, J 2016, 'Crossing a Threshold', in M C A van der Sanden and M J de Vries (ed.), Science and Technology Education and Communication: Seeking Synergy, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, pp. 27-45pp.
  • McKinnon, M, Semmens, D, Moon, B et al 2016, 'Science, Twitter and election campaigns: Tracking #auspol in the Australian federal elections', Journal of Science Communication, vol. 15, no. 6, pp. 22pp.
  • McKinnon, M & Perera, S 2015, 'The Big Picture: Pre-service teachers' perceptions of 'expert' science teachers', Teaching Science, vol. 61, no. 4, pp. 32-45pp.
  • 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.
  • McGillion, C & McKinnon, M 2014, 'Participatory Theater as a Science Communication Tool in Timor Leste', Science Communication, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 502-510.
  • McKinnon, M 2014, 'Layperson's guide to pandemics', Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 200, no. 5, p. 297.
  • McKinnon, M, Orthia, LA, Grant, WJ & Lamberts, R 2014, 'Real-world assessment as an integral component of an undergraduate science communication program', International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 1-13.
  • 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.
  • 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, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 172 - 194.
  • 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.
  • Thomas, J, Raynor, M & McKinnon, M 2014, 'Academic integrity and oral examination: an Arabian Gulf perspective', Innovations in Education and Teaching International, vol. 51, no. 5, pp. 533-543.