- B.Sc. (Hons.), Life Science, Queen’s University
- Ph.D., Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia
- M.J. (Science Journalism), University of British Columbia
- Postdoctoral Fellow, W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia
Journalism and Science Background
Previously worked as a reporter, columnist and freelance science writer for The Scientist magazine, Vancouver’s Tyee, the Science Creative Quarterly, Canadian Medical Association Journal and the U.S. Public Library of Science (PLoS).
Before turning to journalism, Dr. Secko was trained as a molecular biologist at the University of British Columbia. His 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, Dr. Secko is working to give journalists and students new tools to communicate science as part of the Concordia Science Journalism Project. His interests further extend to the moderation and design of deliberative engagement events, as well as research that 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.
Dr. Secko won a University Research Award for his 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.
Teaching (2014-2015 Academic Year)
- JOUR 402 – Specialty Reporting: Science
- JOUR 604 – Research Methods
Area of Research Interest
Science journalism, journalism ethics, empirical testing of new models of journalism, social and ethical studies of genomics (GE3LS), democratic studies, public engagement
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: http://www.csjp.ca/
Selected Book Chapters
- 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. (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).
- Gualtieri, L., Hanney, P., McIntyre, T., Secko, D. M. (2011). “Sustainable Development, Bioenergy and Education: Experiences in collaboration and communication for promoting environmentally sustainable biofuel development,”
in World Trends in Education for Sustainable Development (eds. Leal Filho, W) New York: Peter Lang.
Selected Journal Articles
- 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, in press.
- 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 at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/jpc/vol3/iss1/6
- Secko, D. M., Amend, E., Friday, T. (2013). "Four Models of Science Journalism: A Synthesis and Practical Assessment," Journalism Practice,
- 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.
- Burgess, M.M., O'Doherty, K., Secko, D. M. (2008). “Biobanking in BC: Enhancing discussions of the future of personalized medicine through deliberative public engagement,” Personalized Medicine 5(3): 285-296.
- 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 Non-Refereed Articles
- Burgess, M., O’Doherty, K., Secko, D. M. (2012). "Human Tissue Biobanking in B.C", CIHR’s Citizen Engagement in Health Casebook, p. 61-64.
- Amend, E., Secko, D. M. (2012). “The ‘replaceability’ of journalists” J-Source.ca, January 7.
- Secko, D. M. (2009). “Science journalism in a connected future,” J-Source.ca, December 4.
- Secko, D. M. (2009). “The unfinished science story: Reflections on journalist-audience interactions in the online environment,” Journal of Media Practice 10(2&3): 259-266.
- Smith, W., Secko, D. M. (2009). “Lost in Translation: Science journalists and society,” J-Source.ca, February 10.
- Secko, D. M. (2008). “A Mix between Education and Stand-up Comedy: Conversations with Science Journalists on their Role in Society,” Sciencejournalism.net, May 10.
Selected 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. http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2013/02/uraniborg-mac-montreal.html
- 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.
Selected Recent Conference Papers and Presentations
- 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., Novin, A. (2012). “Mapping Genozymes: Experimenting with geometrical concept maps to improve science journalism,” 2012 Canadian Communication Association Annual Conference, May 30 to June 1 in Waterloo, Ontario.
- Marchildon, G., Secko, D. M., Verma, J., Landriault, E. (2012). "Workshop on Writing Opinion Editorials," Innovations for Health System Improvement: Balancing Costs, Quality and Equity, Annual CAHSPR Conference, Montreal, Canada, May 29–31.
- Goldenberg, A., Gorry, A., Gualtieri, L., Mason, D., Secko, D. M. (2011). “From genomes to the environment: Can we create a sustainable future? A sticky wiki installation,” BALANCE-UNBALANCE 2011 conference, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, November 4-5.
- Secko, D., Tlalka, S., Amend, E. (2011). “The scholarly view on science journalism: A qualitative interview study,” Canadian Communication Association Annual Conference, June 1-3, 2011 in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
- Abelson, J., Secko, D. M., Longstaff, H., Boesveld, S. (2011). "Media Impacts, Public Engagement and Health Policy: A Gap Analysis." Paper presented at the Canadian Association of Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) annual conference, Halifax, NS, May 9-12.
- Secko, D. M. (2011). "Health Journalism – What Would Make it Matter?" Keynote Speaker, Medicine and the Media: Exploring the Issues, 5th Annual Massey Grand Rounds Symposium, April 27, 2011.
- Secko, D. M. (2011). “Science Journalism at Concordia,” Invited Panellist, Table ronde sur le journalisme scientifique, Laval Université, Québec City, March 29.
- Secko, D. M. (2011). “Science Journalism – An Overview,” Invited Panellist, Lost in Translation, panel discussion on science and the media, The Regis & Joan Duffy Research Centre, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI, March 7.
- Secko, D. M. (2011). “Salmon genes, discuss,” Invited Speaker, TEDxConcordia, Montreal, QC, February 19., http://tedxconcordia.com/