Keynote Speakers and Special Guests

As the Pop Culture Conference has grown, it has attracted the attention and support of incredible academics, professionals, writers, and fans alike. Here, we showcase a combination of the keynotes, as well as distinguished guests.


Robert Shearman

Robert Shearman has worked as writer for television, radio and the stage.Rob was one of the writers for the BAFTA award winning first series of the revived Doctor Who series starring Christopher Eccleston. His episode, ‘Dalek’, was runner-up for a Hugo Award, and his award winning contributions to the audio range of Doctor Who released by Big Finish have been broadcast on BBC Radio. He also contributed to the second series of BBC1’s Born and Bred. His many plays for 


Cheryl Cain

Cheryl Cain is a television screenwriter. Her work includes the episode "War Stories" for the cult television series Firefly, and episodes of Roswell and Threat Matrix. She also wrote an additional script for Firefly, "Dead or Alive," which was not filmed due to the show's cancellation.


Mat Irvine

I spent most of my, what could termed, 'early career' at the BBC. I briefly worked first in the Photographic 'Stills' Library for Television News, then moved to the Visual Effects Department, where I stayed for around 23 years, making an overall total of a couple of months short of 25 years. (So no gold watch...)


Maureen Ryan

I'm the TV critic for The Huffington Post and a juror for the Peabody Awards.


Robbie Thompson

Robbie Thompson is co-executive producer of Supernatural and the author of some of the most thrilling episodes of the show, including the 200th anniversary episode, "Fan Fiction.” He has previously worked on the series Jericho, Human Target, and The Cape, and is currently working on a Marvel comic series, Silk.


Mark oshiro

Known colloquially as Mark Does Stuff, Mark has been running a series of review websites that chronicle his journey through various fictional universes... while completely unspoiled.


Lisa Klink

Lisa Klink started her career writing for Deep Space Nine and Voyager before coming back to Earth for shows like Martial Law and Missing She’s also written two issues of Batman for DC Comics and contributed a short story to the anthology Empower: Fight Like A Girl. Lisa now writes novels, including three books in the Dead Man series and All In, co-authored with Joel Goldman. She’s also a five-time champion on Jeopardy!


Lincoln Geraghty

Dr. Lincoln Geraghty is Reader in Popular Media Cultures in the School of Media and Performing Arts at the University of Portsmouth. He is author of Living with Star Trek (2007), American Science Fiction Film and Television (2009) and Cult Collectors (2014). He has edited The Influence of Star Trek on Television, Film and Culture (2008), Channeling the Future (2009), and The Smallville Chronicles (2011).


Brannon Braga

Emmy-nominated Brannon Braga is currently Writer, Executive Producer, and Co-Creator of the drama series Salem. Braga was a key force as a Creator, Writer and Executive Producer of more than 300 episodes of the Star Trek series. For over 13 years collectively, he worked on The Next Generation, Voyager, and Enterprise. His film credits include Mission: Impossible II, Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: First Contact. Braga also served as Executive Producer and Director on FOX’s re-launch of COSMOS, as Executive Producer and Writer on Terra Nova, Executive Producer and Writer on 24, Creator and Executive Producer of Flashforward, and Writer and Executive Producer on Threshold.


Maria Jose and John Tenuto

Maria Jose Tenuto has been a sociology teacher for 18 years at the College of Lake County.  John Tenuto has been a sociology professor for 21 years, 18 of those at the College of Lake County. John and Maria Jose have conducted research on Star Trek fan subcultures and history, and their findings have been featured on BBC Radio, WGN News, the USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune. 


Alanna Bennett

Alanna Bennett is a Film and TV Writer for Buzzfeed. She is perhaps best known for her writings on Harry Potter and racebending Hermione Grainger. She has written previously for The Mary Sue, Bustle, and The Harry Potter Alliance. She writes entertaining content about entertainment, has interviewed talent, appeared on camera, covered live events, and worked in innovative formats. She tweets at @AlannaBennett


Christopher Bell

Dr. Christopher Bell is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado–Colorado Springs (UCCS). His academic books include Hermione Granger Saves the World! (McFarland 2012), Legilimens! Perspectives in Harry Potter Studies (Cambridge Scholars 2013), From Here to Hogwarts (McFarland 2015) and Wizards vs. Muggles (McFarland 2016). Dr. Bell serves as the chair of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association’s Harry Potter Studies division.


Rachel Talalay

Rachel Talalay is a celebrated and successful writer, producer, and director who made her film directoral debut in 1991 with Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. In addition to directing films such as Tank Girl and Ghost in the Machine, Rachel has become a prolific television director as well, including becoming Doctor Who’s first female director in four years, helming multiple episodes. She has also directed such television series as The Flash, Supernatural, Sherlock, Reign, and Riverdale, among many others. 



Wickham CLayton

Dr. Wickham Clayton is a lecturer in Film History and Theory at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, UK. He is editor of Style and Form in the Hollywood Slasher Film (2015, Palgrave Macmillan) and co-editor of Screening Twilight: Critical Approaches to a Cinematic Phenomenon (2014, I. B. Tauris). Wickham’s work focuses on film form and aesthetics, film genre (with some specialisation in horror), cult, adaptation, and the Biblical Epic.


Scott Myers

Scott has written over thirty movie and TV projects at every major Hollywood studio and broadcast network. His screenwriting credits include K-9 (Universal) which spawned two sequels, Alaska (Sony/Castle Rock), and Trojan War (Warner Bros.). He has been a member of the Writers’ Guild of America, West since 1987. From 2002-2010, Scott was an executive producer at Trailblazer Studios, overseeing the company’s original content development for TV including the Scripps and Discovery networks.

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Philo Barnhart

Philo Barnhart is professional film animator living in Oak Park, IL, known for his work on feature-length films: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Rescuers Down Under, The Secret of NIMH, Happily Ever After, An American Tail, and special effects for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Philo worked many animated TV shows and video games including The Smurfs, Scooby Doo, Jem and the Holograms, Space Ace, Dragons Lair, and many more. He worked on consumer products for several years with Disney, and to this day you can still find his artwork still being used on toys, books, home electronics/appliances, apparel, and posters. Philo's parents Dale Barnhart and Phyllis Barnhart were both animators at Disney's animation studios. Growing up watching the magic of art become animation, he spends his life continuing the tradition of making stories come to life through art. Currently Philo is working with Silver Phoenix Entertainment Inc. His latest comic title is Whispers from the Void


Dr Rebecca Williams

Dr Williams is Senior Lecturer in Communication, Culture and Media Studies at the University of South Wales. Her work on fandom has been published in journals such as Celebrity Studies, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Transformative Works & Cultures, Continuum, Popular Communication, and Cinema Journal and she is a member of the Board of the Fan Studies Network. She is the author of Post-object Fandom: Television, Identity and Self-Narrative (2015, Bloomsbury) and editor of Torchwood Declassified (2013, I.B. Tauris) and Everybody Hurts (2018, University of Iowa Press). She is currently writing Theme Park Fandom: Distinction, Immersion & Participatory Culture for University of Amsterdam Press.