On the Origin of Science Writers


Every now and then, I get an email from someone who’s keen to get into science writing and wants to know how I started. Whenever I reply, and I always try to, I’m always left with the nagging feeling that my experience is but one of a multitude of routes that people have taken. Science writing (whether you want to call it journalism, blogging, communication and so on) is a diverse field, as are the people working in it. It would be far more illuminating for a newbie to see a variety of stories rather than just one.

This was the origin of this thread of origins. I will be asking science writers around the world to do what they do best – tell a story – about the thing they know best – themselves. This will be a perpetual thread that I hope will act as a lasting resource for the writers of tomorrow to take inspiration from.

Some kind individuals have already submitted their stories and I hope that many more will chip in. You can already see that they’re a varied bunch. Some stumbled into it by accident. Some came from traditional journalistic backgrounds. Others were bitten by a radioactive Carl Sagan. The more the stories accumulate, the better this diversity reveals itself.

Who should contribute to this thread?

Anyone who regularly writes about science, and preferably has been doing it for a couple of years now. I originally wanted to focus on science journalists but because all these definitions are bleeding into one, I’m opening it to all manner of science writers. From blogger to book writer, beginner to veteran, Asimov to Zimmer, tell us your story.

What should I say?

You’ll see from the existing entries (which are virtually unedited) that there’s a lot of variety in content, tone and length. This is as it should be – science writers are a diverse bunch and it would be a shame to edit them into uniformity. But essentially, there are two basic questions:

  • how did you make your start
  • what advice would you give to people in the same position?

What do I do?

Just stick a comment in with your story, who you are and what you do. If there are multiple links, it’ll be diverted to my spam folder, but just email or tweet me and tell me to rescue it. Alternatively, feel free to email your story and I’ll put it up on your behalf.

How do I tell people about this?

Obviously, the URL is above, but you can also link to this page from tinyurl.com/sciwriters and bit.ly/sciwriters

What about regular comments?

I’m not going to restrict people from posting regular comments initially, but I’d ask that readers keep them to a minimum. The thread’s value relies on the stories taking centre-stage.

Other than that, go for it.

Who has contributed?

I’ll keep a running list here, with links to their stories:

  1. Carl Zimmerblog; website, Twitter
  2. Mark HendersonTwitter
  3. Tim Radford
  4. Jonah Lehrerblog, Twitter
  5. Maggie Koerth-Baker Twitter
  6. John Rennieblog; Twitter
  7. Steve Silbermanwebsite, Twitter
  8. Gaia Vinceblog; Twitter
  9. Mary CarmichaelTwitter
  10. Ivan Oranskyblog; Twitter
  11. James Randerson Twitter
  12. Deborah Blumblog; Twitter
  13. Oliver Mortonblog; Twitter
  14. Melinda Wenner Moyerwebsite; Twitter
  15. Jonathan GitlinTwitter
  16. Raima Larterblog; Twitter
  17. Mohammed YahiaTwitter
  18. Steffie Tomsonblog
  19. Jennifer Ouelletteblog; Twitter
  20. Chris Lee aka Laserboyblog
  21. John Pavlus blog; Twitter
  22. Alice Bellblog; Twitter
  23. Ed Yongblog (yes, this one); Twitter
  24. Sandeep Gautamblog
  25. John Timmer website; Twitter
  26. Mun-Keat Looiwebsite; Twitter
  27. Charles Seife website; Twitter
  28. Helen Fieldswebsite
  29. TR Gregoryblog; Twitter
  30. JR Minkelblog; Twitter
  31. Cassandra Willyardwebsite; Twitter
  32. Christopher Mimsblog; Twitter
  33. Brendan MaherTwitter
  34. Rowan HooperTwitter
  35. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
  36. Emilie Lorditch
  37. Catherine Shafferwebsite, Twitter
  38. Apoorva MandavilliTwitter
  39. Ann Finkbeinerblog, Twitter
  40. Eric Michael Johnson blog, Twitter
  41. Emily Antheswebsite, Twitter
  42. Carin Bondar website, Twitter
  43. Michaelangelo D’Agostinowebsite, Twitter
  44. Tom Levenson blog, Twitter
  45. Stephen Curryblog, Twitter
  46. Richard Conniffblog
  47. Alexandra WitzeTwitter
  48. Sean Carrollblog, Twitter
  49. Emily Willinghamblog, Twitter
  50. Maryn McKennablog, Twitter
  51. Thomas Hagerblog, Twitter
  52. Joanne Manasterblog, Twitter
  53. Matt Fordblog
  54. Marcia Bartusiakwebsite,
  55. Barbara J Kingwebsite, Twitter
  56. Virginia Hughesblog, Twitter
  57. TJ KelleherTwitter
  58. Michelle Nijhuiswebsite, Twitter
  59. Dan Verganocolumn, Twitter
  60. Edward WinsteadTwitter
  61. Hillary Rosnerwebsite, Twitter
  62. Cristine RussellTwitter
  63. Kate TravisTwitter
  64. Peter RodgersTwitter
  65. Jon Turneywebsite, Twitter
  66. Christie Aschwandenwebsite
  67. Andy Extanceblog, Twitter
  68. Vivienne Raperblog, Twitter
  69. Priya Shettyblog,
  70. Kat Arneyblog, Twitter
  71. Leila Sattarywebsite, Twitter
  72. K. Kris Hirstwebsite
  73. Dave Mosherwebsite, Twitter
  74. Claire AinsworthTwitter
  75. Paul Sutherland website, Twitter
  76. Nancy ShuteTwitter
  77. Maria-Jose Vinaswebsite, Twitter
  78. Ann Downer-Hazell blog, Twitter
  79. Heather Pringleblog, Twitter
  80. Emily Sohnwebsite, Twitter
  81. Dan Faginwebsite, Twitter
  82. Mary KnudsonTwitter
  83. Beth Azar
  84. Anne Sasso website
  85. Adam RutherfordTwitter
  86. Mike Lemonickwebsite
  87. Dave Mungerwebsite, Twitter
  88. Sheril Kirshenbaumblog, Twitter
  89. Laurel Nemewebsite, Twitter
  90. Richard van NoordenTwitter
  91. Jude Isabellawebsite
  92. Matt Billewebsite, Twitter
  93. Becky Oskinwebsite,
  94. Emil Viktor Nilssonblog, Twitter
  95. Jeff Hechtwebsite,
  96. Rhett Allainblog, Twitter
  97. Alex Antuneswebsite,
  98. Bora Zivkovicblog, Twitter
  99. Eoin Letticeblog, Twitter
  100. Steve Koppeswebsite, Twitter
  101. Joerg Kurt Wegnerwebsite, Twitter
  102. Sally Churchblog, Twitter
  103. J. Michael Quante, Twitter
  104. Martin Fennerblog, Twitter
  105. Lewis Dartnellwebsite, Twitter
  106. Catherine Doldwebsite, Twitter
  107. Erik Klemettiblog, Twitter
  108. Carmen DrahlTwitter
  109. Boonsri Dickinsonwebsite, Twitter
  110. Pamela Ronaldblog
  111. David Manlyblog, Twitter
  112. Roger HighfieldTwitter
  113. Tom Chiverswebsite, Twitter
  114. Dan Ferberwebsite, Twitter
  115. Emily BaldwinTwitter
  116. Kerri Smithwebsite, Twitter
  117. Earle M. Hollandblog, Twitter
  118. DeLene Beelandblog, Twitter
  119. Hannah Watersblog, Twitter
  120. David M. Lawrencewebsite
  121. Michael Brooksblog, Twitter
  122. Cobi Smithwebsite, Twitter
  123. Julia Heathcoteblog, Twitter
  124. Alan Boylewebsite, Twitter
  125. Sarah Webbblog, website, Twitter
  126. Charlie Petitblog
  127. Todd I Starkblog, Twitter
  128. PalMD blog, Twitter
  129. Brian Switekblog, Twitter
  130. Jim Handman
  131. Martin Robbins
  132. Richard Grant
  133. Fred Furtado
  134. Henry Gee
  135. Brain Clegg
  136. Eva Amsen
  137. Simon Frantz
  138. Allen Salzberg
  139. Catherine Schmitt
  140. Gianluigi Fillippelli
  141. Wendy Barnaby
  142. David Bradley
  143. Daniel Stolte
  144. Tuan Nguyen
  145. Catherine Brahic
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