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.
Hello, welcome to The SA Incubator. Let's start from the beginning: where are you originally from?
Iowa. I grew up in two similarly sized towns, Mason City and Marshalltown.
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 loved science as a little girl. My elementary school birthday and Christmas gifts were a microscope, telescope, chemistry set, etc. As an adult, I still find science intriguing and even better, valuable. That fine-tuned logic is essential to good science and is refreshing in a chaotic world. As for the writing, I think I like to write because I've always loved to read. The more you read, the better your write. So I suppose writing is fun for me because reading has sculpted my mind to think in words.
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 was already pursuing a masters of science at the University of Wisconsin - Madison when I decided to follow my long-standing interest in journalism. Luckily the professional-track journalism masters program only a few buildings over specialized in one of my strengths, science.
Which science writing program did you attend? Why did you choose that one? What are your best experiences there?
The University of Wisconsin - Madison professional-track journalism M.A. One of my best experiences here is working with Deb Blum, who is not only an incredible writer, but also a great teacher.
What professional experience you have had so far - publications, internships, jobs? Feel free to include a bunch of links here! What is your current job?
I write and edit for a local news website, Madison Commons and am looking forward to my first internship this summer, with the investigative news team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. For the past two years I've been a research assistant in a biogeochemistry lab, completing my Masters in geography. My thesis revolves around soil chemistry analysis.
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?
My personal blog, Curious Terrain includes posts on science, food issues, journalism, and a bit on my growing interest in data journalism. On Twitter I am @emilyeggleston. I use Twitter to keep up with what everyone else is writing and talking about and to share my latest writing.
Apart from writing, do you also do other aspects of science communication, e.g., podcasts, video, art/illustration, photography, infographics, or do you do any coding, web design and programming?
I'm very interested in data visualization and working to become proficient with Google Fusion Tables, Tableau, ArcMap and other tools.
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?
I know that I am drawn to data visualizations as story elements and I think there will be more and more of that in digital media. I think interactivity will be huge, whether that's a slideshow, a digital model, a timeline or something else. The bigger a young journalist's toolbox, the better. Many of the tools will likely be software proficiencies, audio/visual media production, and perfecting many different lengths, from super short (think tweet) to long-form. The ultimate goal of diversifying our storytelling abilities - hopefully this results in flexible, effective, and creative journalists, though I do worry about about whether or not to specialize my toolbox.
Previously in this series: