Mary Poffenroth


Biological Sciences

Phone: (408) 924-4831


Mary, a biopsychologist and first-generation college student, began her career in the astrobiology unit at NASA Ames Moffett Field while assisting on payload experiments for STS-107. Mary holds a doctorate in psychology and three master's degrees (biology, psychology, and science communication), is the author of Write Present Create: Science Communication for Undergraduates, and has taught nearly 20,000 students both in person and online since 2007 at San Jose State University in the courses: Biology 10, Biology 21, Biology 54, GLST 1B, UNVS 96, and GLST 167. A Salzburg Global Fellow, Mary has spoken at TEDx London, Harvard, and SXSW, and her work has been featured in such legacy media outlets as TIME magazine, Forbes, Science, Entrepreneur, and National Geographic. Her current research interests lie at the intersection of fear science and innovation.


Ph.D., Psychology Fielding Graduate University
Research Focus: Using media to mitigate non-clinical fear in historically underserved students in the online classroom.

M.A., Psychology Fielding Graduate University
Research Focus: Media Psychology, using Augmented Reality to mitigate non-clinical fear

MSc, Science Communication with Merit Honors Imperial College London 
Research Focus: Fear appeals, persuasion, fear science, climate change communication

M.S., Biological Sciences San Jose State University
Research Focus: Organismal Ecology of Mammals