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Communication Research

Linda Billings is a research professor at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. She does communication research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) astrobiology program in the Science Mission Directorate. She also advises NASA’s Senior Scientist for Mars Exploration and Planetary Protection Officer on communications.

Dr. Billings earned her 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).

Her research interests and expertise include mass communication, science communication, risk communication, rhetorical analysis, journalism studies, and social studies of science. Her 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.

Dr. Billings has worked for more than 30 years in Washington, D.C., as a researcher; journalist; freelance writer; communication planner, manager, and analyst; policy analyst; and consultant to the government. (Read Dr. Billings full c.v.) As a researcher, she has worked on communication strategy, media analysis, and audience research for NASA’s astrobiology, Mars exploration, and planetary protection programs. As a journalist, she has covered energy, environment, and labor relations as well as aerospace. She was the first senior editor for space at Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine (1986-88) and the founding editor of Space Business News (1983-85). She 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. She also appeared on CNN to discuss the Biosphere II project. Her freelance articles have been published in outlets such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post Magazine, and Space News.

Dr. Billings 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. She is a member of Women in Aerospace (WIA) and served as an officer of WIA for 15 years, most recently as president (2003). She received an Outstanding Achievement Award from WIA in 1991. She received a Media Award from the Washington Space Business Roundtable in 1988. She served as a member of the NASA Advisory Council’s Biological and Physical Research Advisory Committee in 2004-2005. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, D.C. Science Writers Association, Society of Environmental Journalists, National Communication Association, International Communication Association, Society for Social Studies of Science, American Astronautical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She volunteers as a reading tutor to elementary students at an Arlington County community center and received a 2008 Outstanding Volunteer Award from the county for this effort. In 2007, she was a Cheetah Conservation Station interpreter at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

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My research interests: communication, cultural studies, space policy, science in society...

Other interests: social justice, media reform, animal welfare...

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In this 2006 podcast Dr. Billings discusses her studies of media coverage of the so-called fringe science of alien abduction research.

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