Mika McKinnon

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Mika McKinnon
Mika McKinnon.jpg
ResidenceBay Area, California
Alma materUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
The University of British Columbia
Known forDisaster research, Stargate
Scientific career
FieldsGeophysics, Disaster Research, Science Communication
InstitutionsSETI Institute
FEMA
Gizmodo
Natural Resources Canada
ThesisLandslide runout: statistical analysis of physical characteristics and model parameters (2010)
Academic advisorsOldrich Hungr[1]
WebsiteWebsite

Mika McKinnon is a Canadian field geophysicist, disaster researcher, and science communicator. She is a co-investigator of the SETI Institute's Project ESPRESSO. She was a science adviser for the science fiction television series Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe.[2]

Education and early career[change | change source]

McKinnon earned her Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2005. She studied in the College of Creative Studies. There, she re-started the Society of Physics Students group and led a student study group on science in fiction.[3]

She earned her Master of Science in geophysics at the University of British Columbia in 2010.[1] Her graduate work was about measuring and managing risk of landslides. She used statistical models to map landslides physical characteristics to better predict how far landslides run and reduce the number of people hurt and the amount of damage.[4][5]

McKinnon was looking for work after graduation during a hiring freeze by the Canadian government. She learned that women in her field were being hired because they could be paid less than men. So, she spoke out more for women and minorities in science.[2]

Research career[change | change source]

McKinnon does research in disaster management, preparedness, and communication. She works with scientific research, advocacy, and policy. She uses her knowledge of both science and communication to teach science to disaster managers. She rewrote the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) science curriculum for emergency managers. She is working on several projects with Natural Resources Canada.[3][6]

McKinnon is a co-investigator of Project ESPRESSO. She uses her expertise in terrestrial landslides and hazard mapping to help the project reach its goal of describing extraterrestrial target surfaces (asteroids, comets, and moons) and reducing risks for robots and humans in space exploration.[7] The project is a group of seven partner institutions. It started when NASA called for Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute groups in 2016. ESPRESSO is one of thirteen projects that were chosen after that call.[8]

Science communication[change | change source]

McKinnon began doing science communication as a Master's student at UBC. The producers of the television show Stargate: Atlantis wanted a physicist who could help with accurate scientific explanations for the show's science fiction plots. McKinnon answered.[6] After graduation, she worked in science communication including popular science writing and continued helping on the television shows Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate: Universe.[9][6] Recently, McKinnon has worked on Doomsday: 10 Ways the World Will End, No Tomorrow, Madam Secretary, and Star Trek: Discovery.[10] McKInnon says that her interest in communication started with the media's incorrect reporting of a major landslide in the Pacific Northwest.[3]

She was an editor for Gawker Media. She wrote about popular science topics for io9 and later became a science writer for Gizmodo.[11] She writes about topics including space exploration, dinosaur discovery, the meeting of science and art, and disaster preparedness. Her writing is in Wired UK, Smithsonian magazine, Ars Technica, and Astronomy.[12][13][14][15]

She volunteers for the National Academy of Sciences Science & Entertainment Exchange. There, she uses her knowledge to help the entertainment industry show science more accurately in the media.[16]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 McKinnon, Mika (2010). Landslide runout: statistical analysis of physical characteristics and model parameters (Thesis). University of British Columbia.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wagner, Sarah (2017-04-18). "Young Professional Profile: Mika McKinnon, UBC M.S. '10". Yale Scientific Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Proctor, Will; Shapiro, Emma (2018-05-25). "Disasters and Space Exploration". UC Santa Barbara College of Creative Studies. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  4. McDougall, Scott; McKinnon, Mika; Hungr, Oldrich (2012-08-23). "Developments in landslide runout prediction". Landslides: Types, Mechanisms and Modeling. Cambridge University Press. pp. 187–195. ISBN 9781139560399.
  5. McKinnon, Mika; Hungr, Oldrich; McDougall, Scott (2008). "Dynamic Analyses of Canadian Landslides" (PDF). Proceedings of the 4th Canadian Conference on Geohazards : From Causes to Management.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Levine, Alaina G. (June 2017). "Profiles In Versatility: Mika McKinnon". American Physical Society. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  7. "Team". ESPRESSO. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  8. "U.S. Teams". Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  9. Ronson, Jacqueline (2016-07-22). "This Physicist Makes Sure 'Stargate' Is Scientifically Accurate". Inverse. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  10. "Mika McKinnon". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  11. "Mika McKinnon". Kinja.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  12. "Mika McKinnon". Wired. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  13. "Articles by Mika McKinnon". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  14. McKinnon, Mika (2016-05-09). "As fires rage, emergency responders rely on familiar apps to save lives". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  15. "Mika McKinnon". Astronomy.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  16. "Scientist Spotlight: Mika McKinnon". Science and Entertainment Exchange. Retrieved 2018-07-27.

Other websites[change | change source]