What I Do
Writing – Since 2002, I have written over 400 news and feature articles for a wide variety of scientific media outlets, ranging from academic publications (e.g., Nature, Nature Methods and Nature Biotechnology) to mainstream news magazines and websites (e.g., SEED, Wired.com, JustGarciaHill.com) to institutional publications (e.g. print and online content for RIKEN, Hunter College, Max Planck Institute and TGen). You can see some of my work here.
My educational and research background is in genetics and cellular and molecular biology. However, I have written about a broad array of science and technology topics, including nanotechnology, materials and biomedical engineering, electronics, chemistry, synthetic biology, healthcare, science policy, biotechnology and intellectual property (among other subjects). I’ve also prepared several corporate white papers and research documents about the development and use of internet-based scientific tools and trends in scientific publishing.
Editing – I edit scientific manuscripts for style, content and grammar, and my current roster of clients includes researchers at Rockefeller University, UC Davis, the RIKEN Brain Science Institute and Columbia University. In the past two years, I have helped prepare more than thirty articles for eventual publication in leading peer-reviewed research journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Journal of the American Chemical Society and Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. I have also handled editing for a variety of other projects, including website content and book chapters.
Photography – Although it’s not something I do ‘professionally’, I love taking photographs. Some people seem to think I’m pretty good at it, but you can take a look at my work and decide for yourself. My photos are for sale if you’d like one printed, and I would be very keen to exhibit them somewhere if the opportunity were to present itself.
Please feel free to contact me about potential projects or collaborations – I’m always up for a challenge and will at least consider just about any interesting idea that isn’t likely to be associated with a prison sentence.
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How I Got Here
About five years ago, I went to a photography portfolio review at New York’s School of Visual Arts, my first one. I didn’t really know how to approach it, so I stuffed a binder full of my favorite stuff, a mix of digital and print, color and B&W, portraits and buildings. When it was finally my turn to get ‘reviewed’, the instructor – a jolly middle-aged fellow – leafed rapidly through my binder with a slightly bemused look, then turned to me and said, “I’m not sure I get it – there’s no real unifying theme or concept here… some of this stuff is quite good, but it’s not coherent.”
Which more or less sums me up – I’m interested in a great many things, and have a hard time staying entirely focused on any one of them for too long. I see it as a feature rather than a bug.
In college, I bounced back and forth between history and biology. When I finally made up my mind, I spent ten years working in various molecular biology labs until one day – when I was (in principle, at least) well along towards my PhD – I realized that I was a pretty crappy scientist. I knew it. My advisor knew it. I’m sure the mice knew it. I liked science and I understood it… but I really didn’t have much business conducting it.
So I cut my losses and left with my Master’s degree, moved to the Lower East Side (back when an unemployed former grad student could still afford to live there) and started looking for work while surviving on a diet of bagels and half-price happy hour beers. I gradually broke into the scientific publishing world, starting as a lowly spreadsheet-monkey. Having demonstrated my meeting-scheduling and binder-assembling acumen, I managed to win enough trust from my coworkers in editorial to start getting opportunities to write short news features and press releases here and there. Over time, I eventually got enough experience under my belt and learned the journalistic ropes well enough to become an Assistant Editor as part of the founding editorial team of Nature Methods. I stayed there for several years as News Editor, and later became the Technology Editor for both that journal and Nature.
From there, I went to Seed Media Group, where I was part of a small team looking into the development of new technology tools for scientists – during that time, our group partnered with several members of the ScienceBlogs community to launch the highly successful ResearchBlogging aggregator, which collects thoughtful discussions of peer-reviewed research from throughout the science blogosphere. But I missed writing – and more importantly, I missed traveling… something I used to do a lot more often.
So I gave my notice, and went on a six week expedition through Argentina and Chile, where I rented a pick-up truck and took a 5000-kilometer solo drive to Tierra del Fuego and back, while blogging sporadically about the whole thing. With that out of my system for the time being, I came back to the US, set up shop in Philadelphia, and have been working as a freelance writer and editor ever since. I still focus on science mostly, but like I said – I like other stuff too much. So this is my professional site, where I’m keeping my work and occasional science and photobloggings… but I will also be maintaining another not-so-professional blog for covering “everything else”, and where I’m much more likely to use cuss words or repost ridiculous crap I found on YouTube.
Thusly informed, you can make the decision about which website is the right one for you.
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About My Dog
Past visitors to my site may be aware that in late September 2012, my pup Kern passed away at the ripe old age of 12. I’ve written a little tribute to him here if you’re a fellow dog-lover or feeling sentimental.
But as a freelancer working at home, it soon got pretty lonely around the house. So after an appropriate period of mourning, we welcomed a new pup to the house. Meet Mina:
Mina is a seven-month-old black lab/pit-bull mix, named after Mina Harker from Dracula. My girlfriend and I had a debate – I wanted a big dog, she wanted a smaller dog. So as a compromise, we got a dog that starts off small and becomes big very fast. After just three months, she’s already extremely leggy and clumsy, kind of like a panther on stilts. She also has alligator jaws and still has an unfortunate fondness for chewing on people’s hands. But she’s also rather clever, and mostly very sweet and huggable and doesn’t even mind when we take embarrassing photos with her dressed up in a silly pink scarf. And with a puppy this photogenic, expect more silly pictures to come…