Niels G. Mede

Niels G. Mede

Science Communication Researcher

University of Zurich, Switzerland


I am a Senior Research and Teaching Associate at the Department of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ) of the University of Zurich, where I also completed a PhD in communication studies. My work focuses on science communication, public opinion, populism, digital media, climate change communication, and survey methodology. Together with main project lead Viktoria Cologna (Harvard University), I am currently conducting a global Many Labs study on trust in science and science-related populism – find more information on our project website.

From March to May 2022, I joined the Department of Life Sciences Communication of the University of Wisconsin—Madison as a visiting scholar. From May to August 2023, I was a visiting researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. You can also find me on Mastodon and Bluesky.

  • Science communication
  • Populism
  • Digital media
  • Climate change communication
  • Survey methodology
  • Open Science
  • PhD, Communication and Media Research, 2022

    University of Zurich, Switzerland

  • MA, Communication Science, 2018

    University of Münster, Germany

  • BA, Media Management, 2016

    Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media, Germany


Conference Presentations (selection)

Trust in scientists and populist attitudes towards them: Global survey evidence on the prevalence, predictors, and cross-country differences of trust in science and science-related populism

Paper presented at the 76th Annual Conference of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), 19–22 September 2023, Salzburg, Austria.

The climate change generation – vocal but overconfident? Communicative antecedents and consequences of inflated knowledge self-perceptions.

Paper presented at the 8th Annual Conference of the Science Communication section of the German Communication Association (DGPuK), 20-22 September 2023, Passau, Germany.

Comparative evidence on populist demands toward science and implications for science communication: Findings from a large-scale global population survey

Paper presented at the Pandemic Communication and Populism Symposium 2023 (PANCOPOP), 12-13 June 2023, Loughborough, UK.

Historical and projected prevalence of extreme weather events and attitudes towards climate change

Paper presented at the 2023 International Conference on Environmental Psychology (ICEP), 20-23 June 2023, Aarhus, Denmark.

How use of alternative and mainstream social media promote conspiracy beliefs and fake news sharing

Paper presented at the 73rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), 25-29 May 2023, Toronto, Canada.

Eco-informational media use, media-induced eco-emotions, and climate change activism: What drives the political engagement of the climate change generation?

Paper presented at the 73rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), 25-29 May 2023, Toronto, Canada.

Populist demands toward science and their implications for science communication: Analyzing science-related populism across countries and contexts

Paper presented at the Preconference “Misinformation, Science Populism, and the Role of Citizens” at the 9th European Communication Conference (ECC) of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), 17 October 2022, virtual.

Cognitio populi – vox populi: The implications of science-related populism for communication behavior

Paper presented at the 72nd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), 26-30 May 2022, Paris, France.

Measuring public attitudes toward political and science-related populism in surveys: A tale of two scales?

Paper presented at the 77th Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), 11–13 May 2022, Chicago, USA.

Trust in science during challenging times of a global pandemic: The Science Barometer Switzerland

Paper presented at the 4th Science & You Conference, , 16–19 November 2021, Metz, France.

How knowledge overestimation, science-related populism, and digital media use fuel each other during the COVID-19 pandemic: Representative survey evidence from Germany and Taiwan

Paper presented at the 74th Annual Conference of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), 2–6 November 2021, virtual.

Populism toward science: What it is and how it can be measured

Paper presented at the 17th International Conference on Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST), 25–27 May 2021, virtual.

Science-related populism, its prevalence, antecedents, and outcomes: Evidence from the Science Barometer Switzerland

Paper presented at the PERITIA conference “Trust in Expertise in a Changing Media Landscape”, 18–19 March 2021, virtual.

Science-related populism: Conceptualizing populist challenges to the knowledge and power claims of science

Paper presented at the 70th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), 21–25 May 2020, virtual.

Populism toward science: Introducing a new theoretical concept and a scale to measure it

Paper presented at the ECREA workshop “Constructed facts, contested truths: Science and environment controversies in media and public spaces” at the 13th Annual Conference of the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA), 8–10 January 2020, Brighton, UK.

Fake it till they take it? Pseudo user effects and pseudo user literacy

Paper presented at the 21st General Online Research Conference (GOR) of the German Society for Online Research (DGOF), 6–8 March 2019, Cologne, Germany.

Is distrust in the media undermining democracy? An explorative interview study on the implications of media skepticism

Paper presented at the 7th European Communication Conference (ECC) of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), 31 October–3 November 2018, Lugano, Switzerland.

Suspicion or sympathy? The relationship between scientists and journalists

Paper presented at the Interdisciplinary Symposium “Current Challenges to Mediatized Science Communication” of the IAMCR section “Mediated Communication, Public Opinion and Society”, 7–9 June 2018, Rostock, Germany.

Invited Talks and Keynotes (selection)

The populist challenge to science communication: Comparative evidence from a 67-country survey and potential remedies

Talk in the London Public Understanding of Science Seminar Series at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), 31 January 2024.

A double-edged sword? Science-society dialogue and its trade-offs

Keynote at the ScienceComm '23 in Bern, Switzerland, 2 November 2023.

Populist attitudes towards science and how they relate to media use and communication behaviour: Global survey evidence from the TISP Many Labs project

Talk at the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab (CSDMLab) of the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, 18 October 2023.

Populist attitudes towards science across the world: Global survey evidence on communicative antecedents and correlates.

School of Psychology of the University of Kent, 19 July 2023.

Communicating climate change in digital spaces: How sceptical views of science and knowledge overconfidence challenge science communication on social media

Oxford Internet Institute (OII) of the University of Oxford, 22 June 2023.

Populism scholarship – where are we going, where should we be going, how can we get there?

Symposium “Populism, Polarization, Propaganda in Times of Crisis” at the University of Zurich, 18 October 2022.

Wer braucht schon die Experten? Wissenschaft in Zeiten von Populismus, Falschinformationen und Verschwörungstheorien

Rämibühl Realgymnasium Zürich, 3 October 2022.

Trust in science and science-related populism across the world: Implications for science communication

Health and Risk Communication Center at the Michigan State University, 9 May 2022 — with Viktoria Cologna.

Trust in science and science-related populism: Implications for the role of science in politics and society

Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, 25 April 2022 — with Viktoria Cologna.

Was denkt die Schweiz über die Rolle der Wissenschaft in der Corona-Pandemie? Forschungsbefunde zu öffentlicher Wahrnehmung von Wissenschaft in Krisenzeiten

Input talk at panel discussion with PD Dr. Christian Althaus at the Paulus Academy Zurich, 28 April 2021.

Social Media im Dialog von Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft: Neue Chancen und hohe Erwartungen

Social Media Webinar 2020 of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT), 29 October 2020.

The “replication crisis” in the public eye: Germans’ awareness and perceptions of the (ir)reproducibility of scientific research

ReproducibiliTea Journal Club of the Center for Reproducible Science (CRS) at the University of Zurich, 1 October 2020.


Reception and effects of digital science communication
Hate speech in digital media
Science communicators’ views of public criticism of science
Media use and public opinion during the COVID-19 pandemic
What does the public think about science? Secondary analyses of population surveys
Science communication and populism
The relationship between science and journalism in times of alternative facts and fake science