Ben Riggs

Civic Science Fellow

The story of science is not monolithic, though it can feel that way, and Ben Riggs’ passion as a researcher and educator is leveraging the breadth and nuance of contemporary storytelling methods to make scientific knowledge more accessible and impactful—to ultimately rethink what “science” can mean. As a Ph.D. candidate in Screen Cultures at Northwestern University, his dissertation (“Knowing TV: Science on Screen in the Early 21st Century”) focuses on science- and nature-related television series. For this work, Ben makes the argument that TV and science share an epistemological commensurability—that is, that they have a similar way of presenting/processing knowledge—built on overlapping aesthetic and narrative sensibilities (e.g., spectacle, complexity, authority). In other words, if part of doing science is thinking scientifically, is it also possible to watch TV scientifically? If so, what does that look like?

Prior to Northwestern, Ben received his M.A. in Communication and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and B.A. in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico. Originally from Albuquerque, N.M., Ben is also a former high school science teacher, having taught mostly biology for Albuquerque Public Schools. He has also been a mentor teacher and research coach for K-12 teachers in Yonkers, N.Y. and Evanston, I.L. Outside of work, he likes to watch movies (well, sometimes that’s also work), go to museums, and eat sandwiches.