The Peabody, Yale, and Natural History: an Interview with Richard Conniff

Posted 14 April 2016 by Matt Shipman

I first visited the Peabody Museum of Natural History in the company of hundreds of science writers. The museum was hosting a social event for the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers, which gave me the opportunity to explore its exhibits in the company of people who were exceptionally well-informed and gifted storytellers. It was the best possible introduction. I visited again a few years later, this time in the company of family and friends. The enthusiasm... Read more

Science for Parents: an Interview with Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham

Posted 5 April 2016 by Matt Shipman

Parents, particularly first-time parents, get a lot of advice – whether they want it or not. Some of that advice comes from professionals, such as obstetricians, pediatricians and nurses. But a lot of advice comes from less reliable sources. New parents, and expecting parents, are often told that they “have” to do this or that. Sometimes it feels like everyone knows exactly what to do in order to get a baby to sleep, how a baby should be fed, or... Read more

The Book for Science Bloggers (or Anyone Thinking About Starting a Blog)

Posted 2 March 2016 by Matt Shipman

A new book hit shelves on March 1. The book, Science Blogging: The Essential Guide, is specifically aimed at helping two groups of people: those who have already launched science blogs, and those who are thinking about launching science blogs. That said, the book would be useful for anyone interested in blogging – regardless of what the blog is about. I’m mentioning this for a couple of reasons. First, it’s an incredibly useful guidebook for anyone who’s interested in using... Read more

Why It Was So Mysterious: an Interview with Steve Silberman

Posted 29 February 2016 by Matt Shipman

Neurotribes is an ambitious book. It is, as Oliver Sacks describes it in the foreword, “a sweeping and penetrating history of [autism, Asperger’s syndrome and how those diagnoses are understood]. Grappling with such a sweeping topic is a challenge, especially when it is subject to public controversy. How does a science writer deal with readers whose fears have led them to discount science (as is the case with those who claim vaccines have caused an autism “epidemic”)? For author Steve... Read more

It’s True, Hope Jahren Sure Can Write

Posted 19 February 2016 by Matt Shipman

I just finished reading Hope Jahren’s forthcoming book Lab Girl, due out April 5. It’s somewhere between a popular science book and a memoir – two tricky genres. Either one, done poorly, can feel like impenetrable jibberish or self-indulgent navel-gazing. Luckily (though I suspect luck has nothing to do with it), Jahren handles both styles well. Since most people read a book review to decide whether they want to read the book in question, I’ll give you some idea of... Read more

So, I Wrote a Book

Posted 23 July 2015 by Matt Shipman

So, I wrote a book. It’s called The Handbook for Science Public Information Officers, and if you’re the sort of person who enjoys reading this blog, I have high hopes that you’ll find it useful and interesting. What was I thinking? I’ve spent the past three years writing about the practical aspects of science communication, on this blog and elsewhere. Somewhat to my surprise, a lot of folks were interested in what I had to say. It occurred to me... Read more

Following Your Passion Project: Notes from the 2014 National Association of Science Writers Meeting

Posted 13 November 2014 by Matt Shipman

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Brooke Borel. Borel is a freelance science writer and author. She organized a session at the 2014 meeting of the National Association of Science Writers on what it takes to make a “passion project” a success, and I asked her to write a guest post on the subject. Last month, 430 science journalists and communicators took over a Marriott hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio for their annual meeting, which included talks and... Read more

I’m Never Bored: an Interview with Florence Williams

Posted 9 December 2013 by Matt Shipman

“Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History,” by Florence Williams, is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read in years; a smart, funny read that touches on everything from evolutionary biology to toxicology and environmental health. In November, I met Williams at the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers and she was exactly as smart and funny as I’d hoped she’d be, based on her writing. I wanted to know how she got into journalism, why she... Read more

The Story Trumps Everything: an Interview with Deborah Blum

Posted 21 May 2013 by Matt Shipman

If I had to hatch a murder plot with a science writer, Deborah Blum would be my first choice. Like Agatha Christie, Blum’s work frequently references poisons, skulduggery and murder most foul. Unlike Christie, Blum’s work is nonfiction. An award-winning journalist, Blum has written about issues ranging from primate research to the science of sex. But in recent years her focus has been on, broadly speaking, the science of murder. Her 2010 book, “The Poisoner’s Handbook,” chronicles an exciting era... Read more

How Do You Not Get Curious? An Interview with Jessica Wapner

Posted 7 May 2013 by Matt Shipman

Medical writing can be dry, technical and confusing. But it can also be spellbinding, pulling readers into a world where men and women are engaged in a daily battle against human suffering. At its best, medical writing reminds readers that the triumph of scientific discovery can not only change lives, but save them. “The Philadelphia Chromosome,” by first-time author Jessica Wapner, is an example of great medical writing. The book involves dozens of researchers, more than a century of complex... Read more