Concordia University



David M. Secko, PhD

Chair and Professor, Journalism

Office: L-CJ 3247 
Communication Studies and Journalism Building,
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5175
Website(s): Concordia Science Journalism Project
The Future of Science Journalism
Professor Secko at TEDxConcordia
Professor Secko's Google scholar page
From Slime to Scribe
Availability: I am always interested in speaking with students. For an appointment, please email me.


Previously worked as a science journalist for The Scientist magazine, Vancouver’s Tyee, the Science Creative Quarterly, Canadian Medical Association Journal and the U.S. Public Library of Science (PLoS). Dr. Secko now studies science journalism and is the leader of the Concordia Science Journalism Project.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia
  • PhD, Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia 
  • MJ (Science Journalism), University of British Columbia
  • BSc (Hons.), Life Science, Queen’s University

Areas of research interest

Before turning to journalism, I was trained as a molecular biologist at the University of British Columbia. My research focused on the soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and efforts to understand how it was capable of living a solitary life until starved, where upon it signaled to its kin to organize into a multicellular organism and crawl together to a new source of food. 

Now at Concordia University, I am working to give journalists and students 
new tools to communicate science. This research links across journalism, science and ethical issues to clarify and experiment with the roles of the public, experts and journalists in the democratic governance of biotechnology. Examples of my work include the definition and testing of four models of science journalisma qualitative metasynthesis of the experiences of a science journalists, and a narrative analysis of online commentary after science stories. My interests further extend to the moderation and design of deliberative engagement events.

I won a University Research Award for my research contributions in 2011, the Dean’s Award for excellence as a new scholar in 2010 and was awarded the Hal Straight Gold Medal in Journalism from UBC’s School of Journalism in 2006. In 2013-14, I was a visiting scholar at the 
Centre of Genomic and Policy in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University.

Course Taught

JOUR 402        Specialist Reporting: Science
JOUR 404        Magazine Writing 
JOUR 604        Research Methods in Journalism Studies
JOUR 602        Journalism Ethics
JOUR 205        Principles of Journalistic Thought

Selected publications

  • Longstaff, H., Secko, D.M., Capurro, G., Hanney, P., McIntyre, T. (2015). “Fostering citizen deliberations on the social acceptability of renewable fuels policy: The case of advanced lignocellulosic biofuels in Canada,” Biomass and Bioenergy, 74: 103-112.
  • Cunningham, S., O’Doherty, K., Sénécal, K., Secko, D.M., Avard, D.  (2015). “Public Concerns Regarding the Storage and Secondary Uses of Residual Newborn Bloodspots: An Analysis of Print Media, Legal Cases and Public Engagement Activities,” Journal of Community Genetics, 6(2): 117-28.
  • Chuong, K. H., O’Doherty, K. C., Secko, D. M. (2015). “Media Discourse on the Social Acceptability of Fecal Transplants,” Qualitative Health Research, in press.
  • Longstaff, H., Secko, D. M. (2014). “Assessing the quality of a deliberative democracy mini-public event about advanced biofuel production and development in Canada,” Public Understanding of Science, DOI: 10.1177/0963662514545014.
  • Secko, D. M., Einsiedel, E. (2014). "The biofuels quadrilemma, public perceptions and policy," Biofuels, 5(3): 207-209.
  • Amend, E., Capurro, G., Secko, D. M. (2014). “Grasping Scientific News: The use of science journalism models to clarify the impacts of alternative forms of production,” Journalism Practice, 8(6): 789-808.
  • Secko, D. M., Roos, N. (2014). “Health Policy Journalism in Canada: Experience from,” in First Do No Harm: Reporting on Health and Healthcare (ed. John Lister), Oxfordshire: Libri Publishing (pp. 57-65). 
  • Secko, D. M., Burgess, M. M. (2014). “Assessing Moral Perspectives on the Technical Application of a Fish's DNA: An Interview Study with Salmon Genomic Researchers,” in Iconic Species: Cod and Salmon and Social Issues in Genomic Science (eds. Keith Culver and Kieran O'Doherty), Concord, Ontario: Captus University Publications.
  • Bourassa, E., Amend, E., Secko, D. M. (2013). “A thematic review and synthesis of best practices in environment journalism,” Journal of Professional Communication, 3(1), Article 6. Available here
  • Secko, D. M., Amend, E., Friday, T. (2013). "Four Models of Science Journalism: A Synthesis and Practical Assessment," Journalism Practice, 7(1): 62-80.
  • Secko, D. M. (2012). “Swimming with salmon: The use of journalism to public engagement initiatives on emerging biotechnologies,” in Public Engagement and Emerging Technologies (eds. Enda Einsiedel and Kieran O'Doherty), Vancouver: UBC Press (pp. 211-228). 
  • Amend, E., Secko, D. M. (2012). “In the face of critique: A qualitative meta-synthesis of the experiences of journalists covering health and science,” Science Communication, 34(2): 241-282.
  • Secko, D. M., Tlalka, S., Kingdon, A., Dunlop, M., Amend, E. (2011). “The Unfinished Science Story: Journalist-Audience Interactions from the Globe and Mail’s Online Health and Science Sections,” special edition of Journalism, 12(7) 814–831.
  • Longstaff, H., Secko, D. M. (2010). “Canadian news media influence on biobank deliberations,” Journal of Health and Mass Communication, Vol. 2 (1-4): 73-95.
  • O’Doherty, K., Burgess, M., Secko, D.M. (2010). “Sequencing the Salmon Genome: A Deliberative Public Engagement,” Genomics, Society and Policy 6(1): 16-33.
  • Secko, D. M., Smith, W. (2010). “Health journalism: fracturing concerns with a deliberative lens,” Canadian Journal of Communication 35(2): 265-274.
  • Secko, D. M., Preto, N., S. Niemeyer, S., Burgess, M.M. (2009). “Informed Consent in Biobank Research: A Deliberative Approach to the Debate,” Social Science and Medicine 68: 781-789.
  • Secko, D. M., Burgess, M.M., O'Doherty, K. (2008). “Perspectives on Engaging the Public in the Ethics of Emerging Biotechnologies: From Salmon to Biobanks to Neuroethics,” Journal of Accountability in Research 15(3): 283-302.
  • Secko, D. M., Sui, C-H., Speigelman, G. B. and Weeks G. (2006). “An activated Ras protein alters cell adhesion by dephosphorylating Dictyostelium DdCAD-1,” Microbiology, 152: 1495-1505.\
  • Lim, C. J., Zawadzki, K. A., Khosla, M., Secko, D. M., Speigelman, G. B. and Weeks G. (2005). “Loss of the Dictyostelium RasC protein alters vegetative cell size, motility, and endocytosis,” Experimental Cell Research 306(1):47-55.
  • Secko, D. M., Insall, R. H., Speigelman, G. B. and Weeks G. (2004). “The identification of Dictyostelium phosphoproteins altered in response to the activation of RasG,” Proteomics 4(9):2629-2639.

Recent journalism

  • Secko, D. M. (2014). “Listen to Your Heart, An electrocardiogram monitor that snaps onto your smartphone,” Reader’s Digest (Canada), January 14. 
  • Secko, D. M. (2013). “Exploring points of view from Tycho Brahe’s castle,” New Scientist, Culturelab blog, February 20.
  • Secko, D. M. (2011). “Feng Shui for Researchers,” Concordia Magazine, Fall.
  • Secko, D. M., Cohen, E. (2009). “Salmon Genes, Discuss,” The Tyee, March 23. 
  • Secko, D. M. (2008). “Canvassing Protein Complexes,” The Scientist 22(9): 55.  
  • Secko, D. M. (2008). “Rare History, Common Disease,” The Scientist 22(7): 38.  
  • Secko, D.M. (2008). “The Small Side of Cancer,” The Scientist 22(4): 73.

Recent Reports

  • Secko, D. M., Fleury, J-M. (2014). “1st Kavli Symposium on the Future of Science Journalism. Detailed Report.” The Hyatt Lodge, Oak Brook, Illinois, USA, February 17-19th. Available at:
  • Capurro, G., Secko, D. M. (2013). “Workshop Report: Pitfalls in health policy reporting,” World Café, Concordia University. Available at:
  • Capurro, G., Longstaff, H., Secko, D. M. (2013). "Advanced Biofuels: A Public Delberation. Final Report." Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics and Department of Journalism, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
  • Joseph, S., Hanney, P., Amend, E., Capurro de Dargent, G., Hoffman, E., Longstaff, H., Secko, D. M. (2012). "Advanced Biofuels: A Public Deliberation. An Information Booklet," Concordia Science Journalism Project, Concordia University.
  • Cooper, M., Morrison, K., Einsiedel, E., Adams, J., Tran, S. L., Hoffman, E.,Secko, D. M. (2012). “World Wide Views Canada on Biodiversity. Final Report.” Report prepared for the World Wide Views on Biodiversity project. Available at:
  • Abelson, J., Secko, D. M., (2011). “Media Saturated Publics: Understanding News Media Roles in Engaging the Public Effectively,” Final NGOA report to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute for Health Services and Policy Research, July 15.
  • Amend, E., Secko, D. M. (2011). “Final Report: Planting Our Fuel: WillScience Feed or Kick our Energy Consumption?” World Café, Concordia University.
  • Abelson, J., Secko, D. M., Longstaff, H., Boesveld, S., Collins, P. (2011). “Gap Analysis: Understanding news media roles in engaging the public in Canadian health policy,” Report prepared for the Media Saturated Publics (MSP) Project, Workshop #2, McMaster University, Hamilton, February 4.
  • Secko, D. M., Gabrial, B., Bacon, S. (2009). “Final Report: Is Good Health Reporting an Oxymoron,” Health Journalism Workshop, Concordia University.

Recent conference papers and presentations

  • Secko, D. M. (2014). “Online Models for Science Journalism: Criteria Development.” 2014 Canadian Communication Association Annual Conference, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, May 28-30.
  • Secko, D. M. (2014). “Outsdie the box with WWViews: Exploring the human dimension of biodiversity with a worldwide public engagement event.” Symposium on the human dimension of biodiversity conservation and management, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, April 4.
  • Secko, D. M. (2014). “Science journalism in the digital age,” Invited panelist, Science and technology panel, McGill Journalism Week, Montreal, QC, Canada, March 21.
  • Secko, D. M. (2013). “Citizen deliberations on our environment, health and human rights: The case of advanced lignocellulosic biofuels in Canada,” Symposium on Sustainability and Human Rights, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada. November 22.
  • Secko D. M. (2013). “Communicating Publics: What can deliberation offer?” Invited panelist, Science Communication Workshop, 5th Annual Canadian Science Policy Conference, Toronto, ON, Canada. November 20. 
  • Secko, D. M. (2013). “Model-derived experimental science journalism: A novel mixed method.” Paper presented at the 12th Annual Advances in Qualitative Methods Conference, Edmonton, AB, Canada, June 23.
  • Longstaff, H., Secko, D. M., Capurro, G., Dag, H. (2013). “Public Deliberations on the Role of Biotechnology in Advanced Biofuel Production.” Paper presented at the 17th ICABR Conference ‘Innovation and policy for the bioeconomy’, Ravello, Italy, June 18-21.
  • Tran, S., Hoffman, E., Secko, D. M. (2013). “Science Journalism: Two Solitudes.” Invited talk at the Journalisme scientifique : deux solitudes au Canada? panel, Canadian Science Writers Association - Association des communicateurs scientifiques co-annual meeting, Montreal, QC, Canada, June 8.
  • Secko, D. M. (2013). “Science in the Media. Lost in Translation.” Invited talk at the European Human Genetics Conference (ESHG 2013), Paris, France, June 9.
  • Secko, D. M. (2013) “Balancing ethics in population health with media immediacy,” invited panelist at Axe éthique et santé des populations media workshop, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, April 19.

Learn more about Dr. Secko and his work

Prospective graduate students

Dr. Secko is always interested in speaking with prospective graduate students and research assistants. Graduate students interested in working with Dr. Secko need to first be accepted into the Department's MA program in Journalism Studies. Those interested in research assistantships can contact Dr. Secko at anytime and be studying at any level. Dr. Secko's research team is currently focused on the study of science, environmental and health journalism, as well as public engagement on emerging biotechnologies.

Formation of the Concordia Science Journalism Project

Science journalism is an important source of information for the public. However, in the midst of politically and ethically contentious issues, science journalism has often been criticized. Critics deem it polarizing, sensationalistic, and unable to connect with citizens in ways that allow meaningful engagement with the governance of science. In this way, science journalism’s ability to positively support democracy has been questioned.

For this reason, the CSJP formed in the Summer 2008 to investigate current and theoretical practices in science journalism, with a focus on determining how it can be improved so as to better support public engagement with science. The CSJP is a collection of projects and collaborations that are currently funded by Concordia University (2007-2012), Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture, Établissement de nouveaux professeurs-chercheurs (2008-2011), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2009-2010) and Genome Canada / Genome Quebec (2009-2014).

Project website:

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