Hello, nice to meet you virtually.
Some of my backstory…Q & A style:
What are you working on now?
Lots of great projects. I am developing a new online community, and I continue to write about health, travel and create science education programs. And I also help scientists use digital and social media to promote their work and reach the public.
How did you become a journalist?
I learned the skills of a journalist on the job, the old-school way, without formal training or an academic degree in journalism, thanks to patient editors and persistent self-study.
What did you study in school?
My formal academic training was in biomedical sciences, not journalism, culminating in a Master’s at the University of Hawaii. My thesis project focused on identifying molecular markers of drug resistance in the parasites that cause malaria. A key part of the project was maintaining a culture of malaria parasites in the lab, and I literally gave blood weekly for my graduate research. Prior to that, I studied biology, chemistry and anthropology at Boston University, where I earned a B.A.
How did you get started as a writer?
I answered an ad for a science writer at an international astronomical observatory. I worked there for a year, then made the leap to freelance. I started freelancing for an independent newspaper in my hometown, The Haleakala Times, and went on to become a regular contributor to Nature Medicine and Nature. My work has also appeared in Science, Eye on NEI, Hana Hou!, Dog Fancy and The New York Times.
How have you grown in your career?
By embracing technology and my inner geek! I love to use digital and social media in my work, and I am fascinated by the direct engagement and community creation now possible with these tools.
I also have continued to develop and hone my reporting and writing skills by participating in workshops and conferences. For example, in 2010 I attended three major events: the Santa Fe Science Writers’ Workshop, the first-ever Future of Freelance conference and that National Association of Science Writers’ annual conference. I also took an online course in advanced essay writing from Mediabistro.com . From all of these activities I gained valuable contacts, feedback and expanded the scope of my work.
Which awards have you won?
I don’t spend a lot of time applying for awards; I’d rather write. In 2011 I won a fellowship to the Knight Digital Media Center on the campus of UC Berekely and NASW’s Career Grant to develop a digital media project. Prior to that I was a CASW fellow in 2008, and in graduate school, I won a graduate assistantship and a research grant from the National Institute’s for Health for my work on malaria.
Thanks for reading.