Patty Raun, Director

This is a headshot of Patty Raun

I'm a  professional actor and voice coach, a theatre professor, and Director of the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech. I've devoted my life to developing healthy and varied voices (both literal and figurative) in individuals, institutions, and communities. I served as department head of Theatre and as director of the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech from 2002 - 2016 and have recently shifted the focus of my research and teaching to sharing the powerful tools of the theatre in the development of communication skills for scientists, technology professionals, and scholars -- helping them to discover ways to become more direct, personal, spontaneous, and responsive.  I'm particularly interested in empathy development, serious games and roleplay, collaborative problem solving, and values-based leadership. 

Educational background:

  • Voice internship, American Repertory Theatre, Harvard University
  • M.F.A., Pennsylvania State University
  • B.F.A., University of Nebraska

Selected Memberships and Affiliations: 

  • Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, fellow, 2013 - present
  • Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, 2011 - present
  • Actors' Equity Association, member, 1992-present
  • Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) President 2010 - 2012, member 1987-present
  • National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) Board member and Treasurer 2015 - present
  • National Association of Schools of Theatre Accreditation Site Visitor 2009 - present

Selected Honors and Awards:

  • Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in Team Outreach 2019 
  • Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) Leadership and Service Award 2012
  • The Pennsylvania State University's College of Arts and Architecture Alumni Award 2011
  • CLAHS Excellence in Administration Award, Virginia Tech, 2010
  • University Exemplary Department (Theatre Arts Department), Virginia Tech, 2004
  • Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award, 1992
  • Outstanding Educator, Virginia Governor's School, 1992


Carrie Kroehler, Associate Director

This is a photograph of Carrie Kroehler

I am a biologist, writer, editor, Virginia Tech graduate school instructor, and Associate Director of the Center for Communicating Science. In my career, most of my work has focused on "translating" research for non-scientists: writing public education materials and giving talks on water-related issues while working at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, co-authoring introductory sociology textbooks and writing content for others, serving as a "unit scientist" who corresponded with schoolchildren through National Geographic's Kids Network, creating science reasoning units for ACT, and, more recently, writing science book reviews for a regional newspaper. I came to believe in the power of play, experiential learning, and hands-off teaching while doing my student teaching, working with school groups, and raising my children, and I've been happy to put that training and understanding to use in helping researchers learn to communicate more effectively with people outside their specialties. My hope is that we can bridge the gaps between us so that we can listen to and learn from one another as we transform our global society into one that sustains all of us and our beautiful, threatened, life-supporting earth.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • B.S., Biology with a double major in English, Millersville University
  • Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science summer institute, 2015

Publications, Presentations, Awards:

  • Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in Team Outreach, 2019
  • Kroehler, Carolyn J. 2018. Amid historical context, an appeal to action. Roanoke Times December 16.
  • Kroehler, C., P. Raun, and H. Govenor. 2018. Building communication and collaboration skills, from the inside out. Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) & National Institutes of Water Resources (NIWR) 2018 Annual Water Resources Conference, June 26-28, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Govenor, H., C. Kroehler, and S. Ciparis. 2017. Strengthening your communication skills: Exercises to build rapport. Abstract for the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North America 38th Annual Meeting, 12-16 November, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Kroehler, Carolyn J. 2014. Potable water quality standards and regulations – A historical and world overview. In: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry:  Potable Water: Emerging Global Problems and Solutions. (ed.) Tamim Younos and Caitlin A. Grady. Springer.

 Full list of publications and projects


Yancey Crawford and Cynthia Booth provide administrative assistance to the Center.

Karen Roberto, Director of the Institute for Society, Culture and the Environment, provides support for the Center.

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