Cynthia Needham

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Kenneth McPherson


Cynthia Needham is the co-founder and President of ICAN Productions.

Cynthia has extensive experience leading large and complex projects involving multiple organizations.  She has served as National Secretary of the American Society for Microbiology, with oversight for a 190 person staff based in Washington, D.C.  In that role, she created the public communication strategy for the 40,000-member organization that resulted in formation of the Microbial Literacy Collaborative.  The Collaborative was a partnership of organizations, including the American Society for Microbiology, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and the National Association of Biology Teachers, dedicated to increasing scientific literacy among members of the general public.  Other participating organizations included the Association of Science-Technology Centers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As chair of the Collaborative's Executive Board, Cynthia led this highly successful $7.2 million science education initiative.  The MLC was funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Society for Microbiology, the Department of Energyís Human Genome Program, The Annenberg-CPB Project, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and The Foundation for Microbiology.

As Principal Investigator, she oversaw the creation of six linked science education projects:

(1) Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth, a science documentary for public television; (2) Meet the Microbes, a set of hands-on activities;  (3) National youth science leadership summits for pre-college students from traditionally underrepresented communities; (4) Unseen Life on Earth: An Introduction to Microbiology, a 12-part video for distance learning,  (5) Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth, a companion book to the television series, and  (6), an educational website for all ages.

Cynthia published her second book, Global Disease Eradication: The Race for the Last Child in 2003.  She also created and oversaw her second major multi-partner project, focusing on the societal implications of nanotechnology from 2004 - 2009. The project resulted in a 3-part series of Fred Friendly Seminars "Nanotechnology: The Power of Small" broadcast nationally on the stations of the public television system, a web site dedicated to exploring issues raised in the television series (, and a series of deliberative forums and other science museum based events related to the topic. 

In her spare time, she contributes to Kennethís business enterprise and teaches Ashtanga yoga.  During the winter, she is a part time ski instructor at Mt. Mansfield Ski School, heading up the adaptive program.  She was chosen by her colleagues as ski instructor of the year for the 2007/2008 season. She views herself as a Renaissance woman. 

Cynthia received her Ph.D. in microbiology from Oklahoma State University.  She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and of the Infectious Disease Society of America and a Diplomat Emeritus of the American Board of Medical Microbiology.  She was formerly a faculty member of Boston University School of Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine.  She continues to lecture for Boston University School of Medicine.