Launching first cohort!

In January of 2018, the Wheelhouse Institute will bring together the Founding Fellows, our inaugural cohort of women leaders, with a focus on climate change and communication. We are thrilled to have an amazing and accomplished group of artists, scientists, and communicators to launch Wheelhouse. Get to know the first Wheelhouse women:

Fiona P. McDonald is a visual anthropologist who specializes in material culture. She completed her PhD (2014) in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. Her research interests are: Water, Energy studies, Indigenous material and visual culture, repatriation, oral histories, contemporary Indigenous art, curatorial theory, performance theory, and museum studies. She is a co-director of Ethnographic Terminalia (

Heidi A. Roop is a research scientist with a passion for science & science education. Through high-quality research, innovative teaching methods and informed public engagement practices, Heidi aspires to be a scientist who changes how the world engages in science. Heidi’s  pursuit of science has led her to all seven continents. She holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College, an MSc in Geology from Northern Arizona University and a PhD in Geology from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.  Dr. Roop is a Research Scientists and Strategic Communications Lead with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington and an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Science in Society Research Group at the Victoria University of Wellington. Web:

Julia Rosen is a freelance science journalist based in Portland, Oregon. She writes stories about how the world works, and how humans are changing it. She holds a PhD in geology. Her words can be found in Science, Nature, The Los Angeles Times, Orion, Discover, Nautilus, and High Country News, among other places, and her voice can be heard on podcasts for Science, Scientific American‘s 60-Second Science and The Dirtbag Diaries. She has received numerous awards and honors, including an AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellowship, the Grand Gold Award for feature writing and a Silver Excel award for feature writing from Association & Media Publishing. She was a finalist for a Science in Society Journalism Award.  Web:

Sylvia Johnson is a filmmaker, visual storyteller, educator, and impact strategist - humanitarian at heart and creative problem solver by nature . As the Creative Director of her production company, Free Roaming Studios, she works with organizations focused on social good and environmental sustainability to create films, visual storytelling projects, and impact strategies that foster human connection and drive positive change. Her films have been featured in film festivals around the world and she has worked for organizations including the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, the National Park Service, the Inter-American Culture and Development Foundation, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a Center for Environmental Filmmaking Scholar, and an Aspen Institute Socrates Seminar grant recipient. Web:

Sylvia Torti has a PhD in tropical ecology and is also a fiction writer. Her first novel, The Scorpion’s Tail, won the Miguel Mármol Award for “best debut fiction by an American Latino,” and her second novel, CAGES, won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature. Her work has been published in numerous academic and creative journals, edited volumes as well as performed on stage. In addition to her scholarly/artistic work, she is a teacher and educational leader. Since 2012 she has been serving as Dean of the Honors College at the University of Utah. In addition, she is Associate Director of Mapping Meaning (

These remarkable women will be joined by founders Nina Elder and Twila Moon:

Nina Elder is an artist, adventurer, and arts administrator. She makes meticulous drawings and interdisciplinary creative projects that promote curiosity, exploration, and collective sense of stewardship. Nina is an advocate for collaboration, often fostering relationships between artists, scientists and diverse communities. Nina’s work is exhibited and collected nationally, and has been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Rauschenburg Foundation, and the Pollock Krasner Foundation. Her personal commitment to fight oppression and inequity is reflected through her public speaking, teaching, consulting, and project management, all of which propose interdisciplinary understanding and engagement with the world. Web:

Twila Moon is a scientist, leader, thinker, communicator, and enthusiastic learner. As a Research Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, she studies Earth’s glaciers and large ice sheets, Greenland and Antarctica. Her focus is on understanding the current behavior of ice on Earth and how it interacts with the climate, ocean, and biosphere. Dr. Moon has a BS in Geology (Stanford) and an MS and PhD in Earth and Space Sciences (University of Washington). Her research has been published in Science, highlighted in Nature and Nature Geoscience, and received extensive media coverage, including National Public Radio, the Associated Press, and the BBC. Along with research, Dr. Moon is passionate about and active in communicating science to policymakers, the media, and the public.  Web: