About me

March 2016

I’m Director of Science Communication with the Center for Integrative STEM Education at the National Institute of Aerospace (www.nianet.org) in Hampton, Virginia. I live and work in the Washington, DC, area.

I do science communication research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Astrobiology Program and Planetary Defense Coordination Office in the the Planetary Science Division of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

I earned my Ph.D. in mass communication from the Indiana University School of Journalism, M.A. in international transactions from George Mason University, and B.A. in social sciences from the State University of New York at Binghamton (now Binghamton University). For the 2010-11 and 20-11-12 academic years, I was a research professor  at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. For the 2012-2013 academic year, I was a Fellow with SMPA.

My research interests and expertise include mass communication, science communication, risk communication, rhetorical analysis, journalism studies, and social studies of science. My research has focused on the role that journalists play in constructing the cultural authority of scientists, the rhetorical strategies that scientists and journalists employ in communicating about science, and the rhetoric of space exploration.

I’ve worked for a looong time in Washington, D.C., as a researcher; journalist; freelance writer; communication planner, manager, and analyst; policy analyst; and consultant to the government. As a researcher, I’ve worked on communication strategy, media analysis, and audience research for NASA’s astrobiology, Mars exploration, near-Earth object, and planetary protection programs. As a journalist, I covered energy, environment, and labor-management relations as well as aerospace.

I was the first senior editor for space at Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine (1986-88) and the founding editor of Space Business News (1983-85). I was a contributing author for First Contact: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (New American Library, 1990) and appeared on ABC TV’s “Good Morning America” to talk about the book. I also appeared on CNN to discuss the Biosphere II project. My freelance articles have been published in outlets such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post Magazine, and Space News. (See my c.v. for a list of publications and presentations.)

I was a member of the staff for the National Commission on Space (1985-86), appointed by President Reagan to develop a long-term plan for space exploration (we didn’t go there, and we’re still arguing about it…sigh…). I served as an officer of Women in Aerospace (WIA)  for 15 years, most recently as president (2003). I received an Outstanding Achievement Award from WIA in 1991 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. I received a Media Award from the Washington Space Business Roundtable in 1988 for my coverage of commercial space development.

I served as a member of the NASA Advisory Council’s Biological and Physical Research Advisory Committee (a so-called “FACA” committee) in 2004-2005. I’m a member of the Society for Social Studies of Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). I was elected a Fellow of AAAS in 2010.

For the past five years I ‘ve volunteered as a “scientist in the classroom” with  elementary-school students in the Arlington (VA) Public Schools: a 4th grade class at Jamestown Elementary School and 2d, 3d, and 4th grade classes at 2d-grade class at Arlington Science Focus School. I obtained these volunteer assignments through the AAAS “Senior Scientist” program. For many years I was a reading tutor to elementary students at an Arlington County community center, and my fellow volunteers and I received a 2008 Outstanding Volunteer Award from the county for this effort. In 2007, I was a Cheetah Conservation Station interpreter at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

3 Responses to “About me”

  1. doctorlinda Says:

    For now, you can find my archive of blog posts at:


    Also see my profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn.

    On Twitter: lbillin

  2. Paul Marks Says:

    So you do not actually have any scientific qualifications?

    • doctorlinda Says:

      I hold a Ph.D. in mass communication — a social scientific discipline — from Indiana University. That’s a scientific qualification sufficient for me to obtain funding from a federal research agency.

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