Trained as a physical anthropologist studying evolution, Kyle Marian Viterbo’s career has itself “evolved” – she now dedicates herself to science communication. In addition to being an excellent communicator herself, she trains other scientists to communicate their science more effectively, particularly with the use of comedy.
Kyle studied physical anthropology at New York University (NYU) and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook. Physical anthropology is a branch of science looks (in incredible detail) at bones, which hold a surprising amount of information, including hints about age, sex, and size. Some of her work involved studying ancient bones to piece together the human family tree and, within that tree, the evolution of key human traits like walking on two feet (bipedalism). Her detailed knowledge of human anatomy made her perfect for teaching anatomy to medical students.
Physical anthropology isn’t limited to ancient remains and academic exercises. In 2007, Kyle worked as a forensic field technician for the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City (NYC) at the World Trade Center recovery center, where she helped reunite remains and belongings from Ground Zero of the 9-11 terror attacks with their loved ones.
Kyle’s anthropology research allowed her to explore the world, working at field sites in Italy and Spain, and now she’s exploring the world of science communication. If there’s a multimedia platform, Kyle’s likely used it: from broadcast journalism (she served as writer, producer, photographer, and editor for Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism and University of Edinburgh’s Science Magazine and Podcast) to blogging, to podcasts, talk radio, and public lectures (just to name a few).
Where she really found her groove is the intersection between science and comedy. She trains scientists to translate their jargon-filled research into funny (though accurate and educational) talks that resonate with a broader audience. Kyle produces a monthly stand-up show at NYC’s Caveat called “The Symposium: Academic Stand-Up” where the scientists she trains have a chance to present their work.
Kyle’s own training in science communication began while she was a grad student at SBU, where she took classes through the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. She went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Science Communication and Public Engagement from the University of Edinburgh followed by improv and writing training with the Upright Citizens’ Brigade.
She also serves as social media manager for an international organization called Guerilla Science, which works with scientists and cultural partners such as museums, galleries, and festivals, to create educational content (events, exhibits, games, videos, and more).
We were fortunate to have Kyle give us an improv workshop earlier this year and we are ecstatic to have her come back as a keynote speaker for this weekend’s first WiSE In-House Educational Retreat, a full day event where scientists of all genders and levels of training will gather to discuss gender issues. Kyle will be giving a talk about The Role and Impact of Female Comedians.