David M. Secko, PhD
Chair and Professor, Journalism
Biography Selected publications Selected conference papers and presentations Learn more about Dr. Secko and his work Prospective graduate students Formation of the Concordia Science Journalism Project
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 the future of science journalism. He is the leader of the Concordia Science Journalism Project and our experiential science journalism summer school Projected Futures.
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
I am currently the Chair of the Department of Journalism and its MA Program Director, with a diverse research team working on digital innovation related to how science is communicated with society through journalism.
Before turning to journalism, I was trained as a molecular biologist at the University of British Columbia. This 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. I followed this up with adventures as a science journalist.
At Concordia University, my team works to give journalists and students new tools to communicate science. We are particularly interested in experimental science journalism and innovating with new forms of scientific storytelling. This research seeks to link across journalism, science and ethical issues to clarify and experiment with the roles of publics, experts and journalists in the democratic governance of biotechnology. Examples of our work include examining educational visions for the future of science journalism, the definition and testing of four models of science journalism, and a metasynthesis of the experiences of science journalists. We also study the moderation and design of deliberative engagement events.
This research has won a University Research Award and a Dean’s Award for Excellence. It is put into practice through our summer school, Projected Futures.
JOUR 645 Projected Futures: Experimental Science Journalism Studies
JOUR 500 Critical Approaches to Journalism
JOUR 402 Specialist Reporting: Science
JOUR 205 Principles of Journalistic Thought
- Edimo, A., Morel, B., Secko, D. M. (Forthcoming). “An Exploration of the Lived Experience of African Journalists during the 2014 Ebola Crisis,” in Pandemics: The Nature of an Emerging Global Threat (ed. Candance Gibson), Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
- Santosa, S., Secko, D. (2020). "Opinion: Obesity should be viewed as a disease," The Montreal Gazette, March 3.
- Sanza, C., Secko, D. M. (2019). “Projected futures: A qualitative metasummary of visions for the educational future of science journalism,” Conference Proceedings for the 6th World Journalism Education Congress, July.
- Sanza, C., Borowiec, B., Secko, D., Qaiser, F., de Araujo Ferreira, F., MacGregor, H., Bramadat-Willcock, M., Nazemi, P. (2019). “Why we see hope for the future of science journalism,” The Conversation, February 26.
- Nazemi, P., Secko, D. M., (2018). “Recent Books in Science Communication: Practice, Ethics, and a Perspective on New Spaces in Digital Videos,” Journal of Communication 68(6): E73–E76,
- Secko, D. M., Morel, B., Edimo, A. (2017). “An Exploration of the Lived Experience of African Journalists During the 2014 Ebola Crisis,” World Federation of Science Journalists.
- Longstaff, H., Secko, D. M. (2016). “Assessing the quality of a deliberative democracy mini-public event about advanced biofuel production and development in Canada,” Public Understanding of Science, 25(2): 252-61
- Stoett, P., Daszak, P.,…, Secko, D. M., et al. (2016). "voiding catastrophes: Seeking synergies among the public health, environmental protection, and human security sectors," Lancet Global Health, 4(10): e680-681.
- Secko, D. M., Morin, V. (2016). “Report: 3rd Kavli Symposium on Science Journalism: International Collaboration on Global Science Stories,” U.S. National Academy of Science, Washington DC, February 15-17.
- 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, 10: 1359-71.
- Secko, D. M., Morin, V. (2015). “Report: 2nd Kavli Symposium on Science Journalism: Data Mining.” Dolce Hayes Manison, San Jose, CA, USA, 16th -18th February 2015.
- 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 EvidenceNetwork.ca,” 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.
- 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., 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.
- 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. (2013). “Exploring points of view from Tycho Brahe’s castle,” New Scientist, Culturelab blog, February 20.
- 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.
- Capurro, G., Secko, D. M. (2013). “Workshop Report: Pitfalls in health policy reporting,” World Café, Concordia University.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Secko, D. M. (2011). “Feng Shui for Researchers,” Concordia Magazine, Fall.
- 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., Cohen, E. (2009). “Salmon Genes, Discuss,” The Tyee, March 23.
- 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. (2008). “Rare History, Common Disease,” The Scientist 22(7): 38.
- 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.
Selected conference papers and presentations
- Secko, D. M., Kann, T. (2019). “"Collaborative classrooms: A thematic metasummary of educational futures in science journalism," paper presented to the annual Canadian Communications Association (CCA) conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, June 3-6.
- Salas, A., Secko, D. M. (2019). “Journalism strategies for public engagement with health,” Invited workshop, Career day for the 6th Annual PERFORM Centre Research Conference, Concordia University, Montreal, May 7.
- Secko, D. M. (2019). “Projected Futures,” Invited presentation, Beyond disciplines: FAS International Graduate Summer Schools, Concordia University, Montreal, April 16.
- Secko, D. M. (2019). “The perils and excitement of varied science journalism futures,” Invited Lecture, Department of Chemistry and Biology, Ryerson University, ON, March 28.
- Secko, D. M., Hunter, A., Salas, A. (2018). “J-SIM - Leadership, creativity and journalism,” Invited workshop, Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA) summer school, Concordia, Montreal, QC, July 26.
- Secko, D. M. (2018). “Science Journalism in Canada,” Invited Speaker, Science Outside the Lab North (SOTLNorth), Montreal, QC, May 4.
- Secko, D. M., (2018). “Working with Journalists and Storytellers,” Invited Panellist, Sharing Your Research and Telling Your Story, McGill Global Health Programs/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Workshop, Montreal, QC, April 27.
- Secko, D. M. (2017). “Local journalists as social mobilizers: A qualitative assessment of local journalism during the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.” Paper Presented at Is No Local News Bad News? Local Journalism and its Future Conference, Ryerson University, Toronto, June 3-4.
- Secko, D. M. (2017). “An invisible enemy: A qualitative assessment of the role of journalistic fear during the 2014 Ebola epidemic.” Paper Presented at 2017 Canadian Communication Association (CCA) Annual Conference, Ryerson University, Toronto, May 30 - June 2.
- Secko, D. M. (2017). “Science Journalism as a Career Choice.” Invited Panellist. Physiology Career Planning Evening. Department of Physiology, McGill University, January 18.
- Secko, D. M. (2016). “Deliberative Public Engagement as Co-production of Knowledge.” Invited Speaker. Science Communication Graduate Program, Laurentian University, November 10.
- Secko, D. M., Edimo, A. (2016). “Exploration of the lived experience of journalists who covered 2014 Ebola Outbreak.” Invited Panellist. 8th Canadian Science Policy Conference, Ottawa, November 9.
- Secko, D. M. (2016). “Paths to Science Journalism.” Invited Speaker. McGill Microbiology Career Night. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University, October 27.
- Secko, D. M. (2016). “Social Media and the Rise of Bad Health Information: Tweets, Posts, and Problems.” Invited Speaker. International Behavioral Trials Network Conference, May 21.
- Secko, D. M. (2015). “One science topic, four journalists and forty-five readers,” Invited Talk, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, September 15, 2015.
- Secko, D. M. (2015). “Debates and definitions: A qualitative metasummary of visions for the future(s) of science journalism,” International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference, Montreal, July 12-16.
Learn more about Dr. Secko and his work
- Enhance your science journalism skills with Projected Futures! (See the summer school description)
- Building a Science Journalism Educator (SJE) network
- Why we see hope for the future of science journalism
- Shaping Next Generation Science Reporting
- The Next Generation
- Professor Secko at TEDxConcordia
- Professor Secko's Google scholar page
- Salmon Genes, Discuss
- Smarter Democracy
Prospective graduate students
Dr. Secko is always interested in speaking with prospective graduate students and research assistants. Dr. Secko's research team is currently focused on the study of the future of science journalism, public engagement with emerging biotechnologies, and innovating with new approaches to scientific storytelling.
MA students interested in working with Dr. Secko need to first be accepted into the Department's vibrant MA program in Digital Innovation in Journalism Studies. Those interested can contact Dr. Secko to discuss working with his research team. Students can complete an MA thesis, a research-creation project, or an essay combined with course work.
Students interested in pursuing a PhD in science journalism or science communication with Dr. Secko should look at Concordia's Individualized Program.
Those interested in research assistantships can contact Dr. Secko at anytime and be studying at any level. Undergrads at Concordia are encouraged to write!
Formation of the Concordia Science Journalism Project
In 2008, the Concordia Science Journalism Project (CSJP; www.csjp.ca) was created by D. Secko to develop a research and teaching platform on science journalism in the department. This platform includes an active and constructive overlap with the wider goals of training in science communication, where journalism foregrounds holding science to public account and an inclusive democratic community.
The CSJP is a collection of projects that is currently focused on the future of science journalism (through Projected Futures) and the SSHRC-funded Communicating Synthetic Biology Project (2017-21). We aim to continually improve the tools and research available to ensure robust, evidence-based science journalism and the ability to positively support everyone's engagement with critical scientific debates and information.