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The SA Incubator

The SA Incubator


The next generation of science writers and journalists.
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Introducing: Maggie Pingolt

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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This is a series of Q&As with young and up-and-coming science, health and environmental writers and reporters. They have recently hatched in the Incubators (science writing programs at schools of journalism), have even more recently fledged (graduated), and are now making their mark as wonderful new voices explaining science to the public.

Today we introduce you to Maggie Pingolt (homepage/blog, Physics blog, Twitter)

Where are you originally from?

It’s funny you ask this because I need to work on perfecting this answer. I’ve moved 21 times and can never decide on where I want to say I’m from.

…I was born in St. Paul, MN and am from The Midwest.

How did you get into science and how did you get into writing? And how did these two trajectories fuse into becoming a science writer?

I got into science, and basically fell in love with science, my junior year of high school when I was a competitive Irish Dancer. In an effort to be a better competitor, I did my best to learn as much as I could about maximizing muscle tone and growth, and along the way became fascinated with Biology. After a year of college level science I realized that a hard-science degree might be a bit too…studious for me and my personality. So I picked up a pen, wrote an essay, got into J-school and decided to tailor my education to include both science and writing.

Why did you decide to attend a specialized science/health/environmental writing program instead of a generalized journalism or writing program, or just starting a blog and hoping to break into the science writing business?

I decided to tailor my time at Journalism school in health and science writing because it just made sense. I am not gifted at standardized tests and cannot stay awake long enough to be a doctor. So I’ll write about those things instead. Plus, the opportunities for intellectually challenging positions are endless in science writing and each position ensures that you will be learning something new every day. It’s like being a life-long learner without the Ph.D loans.

…I say that now.

Which science writing program did you attend? Why did you choose that one? What are your best experiences there?

I chose to go to school at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication because not only is the school good, but ASU’s scientific research is impeccable and would also be flanked by my involvement in the honors college.

One of my favorite experiences was an honors contract I did for an online media/design-heavy journalism class. I focused this extra project (that would render me honors credit) on the embryonic development of food allergies and was able to create an interactive PDF of this original article for the class and for extra credits with the Honors College. Being able to mold an experience like that made for a great story and a killer learning experience.

Thank you!

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Previously in this series:

Kristina Ashley Bjoran
Emily Eggleston
Erin Podolak
Rachel Nuwer
Hannah Krakauer
Rose Eveleth
Nadia Drake
Kelly Izlar
Jack Scanlan
Francie Diep





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