My name is Sheril. I'm new here, although I've been bouncing around the science blogosphere since 2006. Today I'm delighted to be joining the terrific energy team at Scientific American's Plugged In!

I am primarily interested in the relationships between science, politics, and people. Real energy solutions require more than cutting-edge technologies and carefully crafted legislation. In reality, public opinion plays the most critical role in shaping our energy future.

In my role as Director of the University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll, I work to understand how Americans think about energy. Every six months we conduct a national survey exploring U.S. attitudes on big energy issues like efficiency, climate change, and hydraulic fracturing. Perceptions matter tremendously because decision-making at the local, regional, and federal level involves more than just "the facts." Voters and elected officials are influenced by stories in the media, friends and family, politicians, and even comedians and religious leaders. Ultimately, popular opinion shapes where we go from here.

For those new to my writing, a bit of background: In graduate school I studied marine biology and policy. The following year I served as a legislative science fellow for Senator Bill Nelson covering oceans, energy, and environmental policy. Next at Duke, I worked at the intersection of science and policy. In 2010, I landed at The University of Texas at Austin with The Webber Energy Group before becoming director of the UT Energy Poll.

Somewhere along the way I started blogging, which eventually taught me a lot about writing. In 2009, Chris Mooney and I co-authored Unscientific America about the growing disconnect between science and the American public. The Science of Kissing came out in 2011, which explores a near universal behavior through a variety of lenses from anthropology to neuroscience. (For more information, you can read a full bio on my website).

I'm looking forward to contributing here at Plugged In with Melissa, David, Scott, and Robynne. The five of us certainly have a lot to discuss--and I encourage readers to dive into the conversation along the way...