LSC alum Dennis Dimick visits campus to engage with Wisconsin audiences about the Anthropocene

Life Sciences Communication Master’s alum, Dennis Dimick (’74) recently visited campus to speak during the Wisconsin Science Festival. Dimick has worked as journalist, photographer, and editor for newspapers in multiple locations. He served as the executive environment editor for National Geographic magazine, and was a picture editor for the National Geographic Society for more than 35 years until retiring in December 2015.

Dennis Dimick headshot
Photo taken by Matt Busch.

Dimick is the Co-founder of Eyes on Earth, an educational collaborative meant to inspire a new generation of environmental photographers, and the 2013 recipient of the Charles M. Sprague award for service to photojournalism.

Now he spends his time traveling to universities, conferences, and meetings to further educate the public on environmental issues of the Anthropocene. Dimick is interested in bringing to light the effects of humanity’s expanding presence in the emerging Anthropocene epoch on earth. These long-term impacts are resulting from our expanding quest for resources, energy, water, and food.

“He [Dimick] has a unique gift for distilling a vast information into a manageable narrative and he has shared it with a wide range of public and corporate audiences worldwide.” National Geographic on Dennis Dimick’s work.

During the WSF, Dimick first spoke during the mini-symposium, “Living in the Anthropocene.” He explained how we are living in an era where humanity has become the dominant force on earth. Dimick was joined by Erle Ellis, environmental scientist and professor at the University of Maryland–Baltimore County and Lynn Keller, professor of English and director of the Center for Culture, History, and the Environment.

“Sometimes we are afraid to communicate about climate change because we do not want to be viewed as extremists. But sometimes the ends are where the most interesting stories are,” said Dennis Dimick during his talk.

For the second event, Dimick described how he approaches photographing with his phone during his talk, “Storytelling Photos from Your Phone”. He used some of his photos from his phone as examples for how to capture action, light, and tools to compose the perfect picture. He also discussed tools he uses to crop and tone images, with a focus on Snapseed.

While Dimick was here, he stopped to visit the students in LSC 625–Risk Communication. There he spoke about his career at National Geographic and how he handled portraying risk and audience values in various stories. The students came prepared with various questions and Dimick shared a lot of great insight.

“It was a great experience to hear about his life as editor and how he handled various situations in the journalism world. He shared many helpful tips about gaining trust from your audience and talking about tricky subjects in your work. Definitely, utilizing his advice in my future career,” said Tyler Fox, LSC 625 student and LSC senior.

LSC loves having our alumni come back to visit campus! If you are interested in visiting, please reach out and we’d be happy to help you plan a visit. Also, check out our 10 Easy Ways to Give Back & Stay Involved page for ideas on how to stay in touch with the LSC and UW-Madison community.

Story by Madison Brunett, LSC B.S. ’19 and LSC’s 2018-19 Lenore Landry Scholar