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The world of science writers has a dual problem that we have confronted recently, involving issues of sexual equality and of sexual harassment. As an initial step toward grappling with these problems, the National Association of Science Writers held a session at its 2013 meeting in Gainesville, the XX Science Question, featuring six panelists and a standing-room-only audience intent on airing these concerns. What was originally planned as a session on women and representation among science writers instead grew into a plenary in which the community brought forward a number of issues. But time was necessarily limited, precluding getting into any single concern in any depth.
Now, the members of that panel have expanded what began at the plenary in Gainesville and are coordinating a conference to address these issues, with generous funding from the National Association of Science Writers. The conference will take place at MIT on June 13-15, 2014, to bring together stakeholders in the community for training, discussion, and finding consensus on solutions. While the team listed below is serving to organize and coordinate, the important contributions at this conference will come from attendees, some invited and others registered through open registration, all with the goal of having as much representation as possible across community stakeholders.
Christie Aschwanden is an award-winning freelance writer. She’s a health columnist at The Washington Post, a 2013/2014 Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism, and a contributor to the science blog, Last Word On Nothing. Her articles and essays have appeared in more than 50 publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, Smithsonian, Men’s Journal, NPR, Mother Jones, National Wildlife, Backpacker, Reader’s Digest, Self, Men’s Health, Science, Cell, New Scientist, Discover and O, the Oprah Magazine. She is the founder of the Creative Convergence Workshops, which offer career-building programs and peer-to-peer support for science writers, and she is a five-time instructor at the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop. She’s the recipient of the 2013 NASW Science in Society Award in the Commentary/Opinion category for her Last Word On Nothing blog post “The real scandal: science denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” and was a 2011 National Magazine Award finalist.
Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer prize-winning science writer and the Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She teaches classes ranging from science writing to creative non-fiction and is the author of four books and co-editor of a popular guide to science journalism. Her latest book, The Poisoner’s Handbook, is a New York Times best seller and the subject of an upcoming documentary on PBS’s American Experience. She writes the chemistry-focused blog, Elemental, for Wired and a monthly column, Poison Pen, for The New York Times. She is a past-president of the National Association of Science Writers and currently serves as vice president of the National Association of Science Writing.
Maryn McKenna, MSJ, is a journalist and author who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. She is a blogger and contributing writer for Wired and a columnist and contributing editor for Scientific American, and writes for Slate, SELF, Nature, the Guardian, China Newsweek and other publications in the US, Europe and Asia. She is the author of two books and is writing a third, on food production, for National Geographic; she is also a research fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT.
Kathleen Raven is an investigative healthcare reporter specializing in cancer for BioPharm Insight, a Financial Times Group product, in New York City.
Florence Williams is a contributing editor to Outside Magazine and the author of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History (W.W. Norton), which won the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science and Technology, the 2013 Audie for best audio book in general nonfiction, and was featured on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. A former Ted Scripps fellow and visiting scholar at the University of Colorado, she currently freelances from Washington, D.C. She also serves on the board of her favorite nonprofit, High Country News.
Emily Willingham is a scientist, lecturer, and science writer who founded the Website Double X Science to bring evidence-based science stories to women interested in science. Her writing for a general audience has appeared online at the New York Times, Slate, Forbes, Discover, Wired, and The Scientist, among others, and she is a Forbes online contributor. She also has appeared in print in Backpacker, Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine, The Scientist, and in local newspapers.
Thomas Levenson is a science writer and film maker whose day job has him professing the craft at MIT and directing the Graduate Program in Science Writing there. He is the author of four books, most recently Einstein in Berlin and Newton and the Counterfeiter, and producer, director, writer and/or executive producer of more than a dozen feature documentaries, including the PBS NOVA miniseriesOrigins, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. His work has received a AAAS, an National Academy Keck Award and a Peabody, among other honors. He lives in the Boston area with his spouse, son and a semi-feral cat.
Seth Mnookin teaches in MIT’s Graduate Program of Science Writing. His most recent book is The Panic Virus: The True Story of the Autism-Vaccine Controversy, and is writing about rare genetic diseases.
Funded by a generous IDEA grant from the National Association of Science Writers.
(Logo design courtesy of Will Hornaday of Hornaday Designs.)