This is a series of Q&As with young and up-and-coming science, health and environmental writers and reporters. They – at least some of them – 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.
Lets start from the beginning: where are you originally from?
I grew up in Maitland, Florida, just outside of Orlando. Florida is a wonderfully strange place, and I spent much of my childhood running around my backyard barefoot, catching bugs and reptiles with a net. Then I headed north for college, where I attended Princeton University and rowed for the lightweight crew team.
How did you get into science writing?
When I was little I would gather all my plastic animal toys, take them into the backyard, and make up stories about them. My love of narrative and the outdoors stayed with me as I grew up, but I only connected writing with literature, so at Princeton I majored in English and minored in Environmental Studies. Though I devoured science and environmental writing, somehow it never occurred to me that people make a career out of writing about science. When that realization dawned on me, I took off and never looked back.
Why did you decide to attend a specialized science/health/environmental writing program instead of a generalized journalism of writing program, or just starting a blog and hoping to break into the science writing business?
I knew absolutely nothing about science writing or journalism, so grad school seemed like the best way to learn some skills and arrive on the scene with a head start. After that, deciding to attend a specialized program was easy. Call me a science-snob, but I’m not all that interested in non-science journalism! I also thought it would be more valuable to start specializing as soon as possible.
Which science writing program do you attend? Why did you choose that one? What are your best experiences there?
I attend New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. (For brevity’s sake, we call ourselves SHERPies.) On a practical note, I chose SHERP because it seemed like the best bang for my buck. One of my favorite things about SHERP is that there are only 14 of us, so we automatically form our own little network of young science writers. I also love our class pitch-fests, because it’s really energizing and surprising to hear all the great ideas.
What professional experience do you have do far – publications, internships, jobs? Feel free to include a bunch of links here! What is your current job?
Before becoming a science writer I had a variety of environmental internships, working at the Wilderness Society, the Trust for Public Land, and the Smithsonian’s Encyclopedia of Life. Between college and grad school I spent a year working for Princeton’s Office of Sustainability, and I also interned at a Morven Historic Museum.
Do you write a personal science blog? How much do you use social media networks, e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, Youtube, etc, to promote your own and your friends work, to learn and to connect?
I’m a big fan of Twitter. It is great for just keeping up on the flurry of science news every day, but I also use it to share good science writing. I tend to tweet a lot about science and the environment, but if you follow me (@justinehausheer) you’ll also see a few tweets about rowing, especially with the Olympics coming up. I’m gradually warming up to Google+, and Facebook I reserve for personal networking. My blog is still in the works, but when it goes up you’ll be able to read it on my website: justinehausheer.com.
What are your plans for the future?
That’s something I ask myself every day. The immediate plan is to finish school, find a job, and continue establishing my career. Along the way, I hope that my stories will open up the fantastic world of science to my readers, or motivate them to take second look at the amazing (and often imperiled) natural world.
Previously in this series:
Kristina Ashley Bjoran
Mary Beth Griggs
Amy Shira Teitel
Noby Leong and Tristan O’Brien
Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, FutureX