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.
Today we introduce you to Ashley Tucker (Twitter).
Hello, welcome to The SA Incubator. Let’s start from the beginning: where are you originally from?
I’m originally from Vernon, NJ. I’ve spent a majority of my life living there. It was always my dream to live in New York City and after I graduated high school I moved to Queens to attend St. John’s University, which is where I currently reside.
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?
Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a scientist. First I wanted to be an astronomer, then later I realized what I really wanted to be is an astrophysicist. I’ve always enjoyed writing as a hobby – when I was in eighth grade I started writing a novel. As I got older and went to college I started thinking about what I wanted to do as a scientist and what is important to me, which is education, scientific literacy, and showing people that there is more to science than just equations and facts and that science affects everyone every day of their lives. I started writing more about science, different ideas and theories. I figured that if I’m going to write about something I should stick with my interests and what is important to me.
I am currently a physics major and about to be a senior in college. I have been planning on studying physics since I learned what physics was when I was twelve years old. It is still my goal to get my PhD in astrophysics because that is my predominant interest but I like to write as well. I have taken different writing classes throughout high school and college – English classes as well as Spanish reading and writing classes. Ultimately I want to be a scientist just as much as a writer.
Do you write a personal or science blog ? How much do you use social media networks, e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube etc., to promote your own and your friends’ work, to learn and to connect?
I do, I use Facebook and YouTube more than anything. I have a Twitter and Tumblr. Twitter I had been using frequently, stopped, and now I am starting to again and Tumblr I am not on very often. I’m currently working on a website which should be up and running soon. Most recently I volunteered at the World Science Festival and helped to write for their blog.
How do you see the current and future science media ecosystem, how it differs from the past, and what role will new, young science communicators like yourself play in building it and making it the best it can be?
First, I think that we are in such a critical time right now with technology moving so fast with so many people having access to it that it is important to use that to our advantage and try to reach out to as many people as we can in a way they can relate to. I think the science media ecosystem is growing and that it will continue to. I think it really has to because science literacy is crucial because in the future the world will be further dominated by science and technology and people should be educated about the possibilities, the pros and cons, and how they can benefit.
It is different from the past because we can use the Internet to reach out to different people all over the world and our generation is the first to really have this experience. We are educated, we are cultured, we are open-minded, and we want to make a difference.
What are your plans for the future?
I am planning to attend graduate school in New York City; I want to go to Columbia although nothing is set in stone yet. I am planning to get my Phd in astrophysics. I want to write articles, some books, and do research. I want to start my own business that would basically be a science and technology firm, but first things first.
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