How I got two science communication jobs

I have seen on Twitter the heart-ache for people in science communication who can’t find full-time jobs with benefits.

Well, I found two of them. So let me tell you how I did that.

First, how did I search for job openings? I’m not very good at that, but one thing I did was to keep on searching “scicomm jobs” and variants thereof on Twitter. Apparently, not a lot of people do that. In fact, the first scicomm job that I got seemed to have advertised almost exclusively on Twitter, and from what I could tell, a total of three people applied. Once I had the job, I was given control of the gmail account for it, and I could see the great rush of applications sent in for the job (not). Kind of made me feel like a loser, like, wow, I was more qualified than two others. Great.

Well, this job turned out to be not so great. I complained to all my friends about it, and one of them sent me a job posting she’d seen out of the blue. I applied for that on a whim, mostly because my friend had been nice enough to think of me and send it to me. And then I got that job, too.

So why do I think I got these jobs? From what I can tell, the employers liked the fact that I had a PhD; and they also liked the fact that I can make animations.

The PhD is apparently a big boost when applying to scicomm jobs, from my experience. My first employer did not say this straight out, but I got the impression that is was sort of an elitist issue for him, like, he doesn’t like to deal with people who don’t have PhDs.

The second employer straight out told me that me having a PhD was a big advantage to my application. They wanted someone who had a strong background in earth science, because they want a communicator who knows the science about as well as the scientists.

So the PhD has been a boost, but so has making animations. I think this is a somewhat unique skill among earth scientists, or scientists in general. I make 3D animations in a free and open-source program called Blender. I’ve been using Blender now for years and years. In the interview with the first scicomm job that I got, the animations were something that my soon-to-be boss asked about and seemed interested in. It was probably something that stood out from the grand total of two other applications.

And with the second job, the animation skill was even more important. The job was advertised as earth science visual storyteller. I might have been the only person who applied who both had an earth science PhD and extensive visualization experience.

Because I had been making animations for so long, and making them about my science research and as part of outreach programs, I had many years’ worth of samples that I could show during the application period and interviews for the second job.

When I first started making science animations, by the way, it was during my PhD, and my first advisor, who was a total disaster, was very haughty about the whole thing, and seemed to think it was a big waste of time, and something that perhaps demeaned the field of science. But I loved doing it, so I kept on. I’ve never been officially trained in animation, and I get feedback often that I’m not doing things quite right; but it would appear that despite all that I still need to learn, science + animations skills are a unique and rare combination. And that seems to be how I got these jobs.

So I guess my advice boils down to a very unsatisfactory, very humdrum: “follow your dreams and pursue your passions” and something will work out. Haha, so boring. It’s not true, anyways — it won’t always work out.

But I can’t come up with anything else, except …

For those who are both getting their PhDs and interested in scicomm:

Ignore the people who say that a PhD has to consume your life. No. Absolutely not, not least because of the big chance you’re going to crash and burn out of your PhD. You want to have other things going on for you. Don’t give up everything else that you love.

Oh, and I can think of one more piece of advice for everyone: when I was done with undergrad and had a 9-5 job, that was when I taught myself how to animate. I wasn’t in school anymore, but I still wanted to learn this new skill. I spent a few hours after work several times a week on it, and then usually a full day on the weekends. I didn’t have to force myself to do it, it was so enjoyable. My point is, keep on developing interests and skills even when you’re out of school — it will pay off so much later if you can spend at least some of your after-work hours doing that. Even if you don’t get a job from it, it will pay off — learning to animate was fulfilling and wonderful way before I got any money or reward from it.


So you got a AAAS fellowship. What’s next?

A follow-up to: My best tips for your AAAS Mass Media Fellowship application.

If you got it, congratulations! If you didn’t, you know what? Screw everything. Life sucks. I’ve definitely been in the same boat with other fellowships.

But any case! Here’s my top ten list of things you should know as you prepare for your summer:

1. The airplane ticket situation at AAAS is TERRIBLE!

Take heed. Getting your airplane tickets for your placement will be the first order of business, so it’s the first thing on this list, too. When they contacted me about getting the fellowship, they asked me if I wanted them to take care of buying the airplane tickets first to Washington DC (for orientation) and then to San Francisco (for the fellowship). My other option was to arrange flights myself, pay for everything, and then get reimbursed. Well, I didn’t want to have to deal with extra responsibility, so I told them to handle it. They picked out my flights, sent them to me to check over, and like an idiot, I agreed.

My flights sucked. Liked sucked so much. I had the worst flights out of everyone in the whole group. First, I was already at a disadvantage because along with the rest of the fellows placed in California, we had the greatest distance to travel. Now, as this is just a consequence of geography, I didn’t really care that much — at first. Because of the way my flights were set up, I actually had to leave the last day of orientation a few hours early. Again, this was a bummer, but again, geography — what can you do? So on the last day of orientation, I found the other person who had been placed in San Francisco. I figured that we would probably be on the same exact flights out. I told her: isn’t it too bad that we have to miss part of orientation, and do you want to take the metro together to the airport? That’s when I found out that she — although headed to San Francisco as well — was in no danger of missing any part of orientation. Not at all. Instead, she had been given a direct flight out. She not only was going to depart from Washington D.C. after me, she was also going to arrive in San Francisco before me. That’s when I got really mad. I was like just completely screwed over for no reason. If she got a direct flight, why didn’t I?

The answer I got from the program director, who really didn’t like me from before she ever met me for some reason, was that airplane tickets were purchased as fellows were placed. The placement process is an on-going thing, and it’s based on — I guess — how quickly any given editor makes their choices about what fellow they want. Apparently, when I was placed, the cheapest flights sucked, and when the other person going to San Francisco was placed, the cheap flights were far more favorable. That or the program director (who’s no longer working there, so don’t worry about it) wanted to make me miserable. And yes, I was miserable. Not only did I miss the last part of orientation; not only did I have like a 10-hour trip across the country; but then I also got to San Francisco super late at night. And to top it all off, after spending like an hour extra on the public transportation to get to my apartment in Berkeley, I ended up at a train station that was still a few miles from my final destination. It was close to midnight. I was hungry, had heavy bags, was super tired, and in a place I’d never been before. I took a taxi to cover the last bit of distance, and that taxi driver was a big jerk.

Same thing, by the way, happened on my way back from San Francisco going to the wrap-up in Washington D.C. Again, I had to leave super early; and I arrived super late. And the other person in San Francisco, her trip back east only lasted about half as long as mine. And I completely missed all the first night of wrap-up activities. I was like the only one who missed it all.

So key advice: no, don’t accept the stupid flights that they give you. Yes, do insist on direct flights. Yes, you are getting screwed over on your flights when someone else is not. Yes, make a big fuss and argue with them about it.

2. Do what your editor tells you to do … or not?

During our wrap-up in August, 2018, one of the speakers asked us, “so of course, if your editor assigned you a story, none of you turned it down … ” and every one nodded sagely, while I thought, oh, darn it. Because of course I had done just that. This is something very touch-and-go, of course. Every editor is different. My editor at WIRED was a little chill and didn’t micromanage or dictate over my head too much, so we had a certain hands-off dynamic between us. And furthermore … you don’t want to be part of the further erosion of power in the American labor force, do you? You’re getting paid $500 a week (at least, we were) and you’re basically free labor for WIRED or wherever … the media company isn’t paying you, your sponsor is paying you. So there is really no cause to bow down to every command from your editor too, too much.

3. Really, should you suck up that much?

I mean, you don’t want to wreck your reputation. Some of us (not me!) got jobs and stuff at the same media organization or another one shortly after completing the fellowship. But just think of it this way … you might spend all your time sucking up to your editor and the other hot-shot writers around you and you still might not get any job. So wouldn’t you rather leave with your dignity in tact? All I’m saying is, don’t go in there breathlessly in awe and anxious to please.

4. Maintain a healthy work-life balance.

This is obviously up to you, but in my opinion, and you can see it is in line with my previous notes, you don’t need to make this as stressful as writing your dissertation. Work your 40-hours — oh, I stayed a bit later now and then when I wanted to finish something up — but again, you’re getting paid for 40 hours a week. And when you apply for jobs afterwards [**at least, the kinds of jobs I applied to, which were mostly science communication jobs at universities or organizations ***], they are going to ask you for THREE writing samples max. They’re not going to ask for 10 or 20 writing samples. Often, they might just ask for one or two. So just get a few good stories out there. Don’t break your back working 60 or 80 hours a week. First of all, you’re not getting paid enough, second of all, do you really want to be free labor for anyone, third of all, do you really want to further diminish the power of the American worker? NO! Leave at a proper hour and enjoy the city you’re getting to live in! Enjoy your life! My editor was pretty good about this. Once I did stay really late and come in early to finish an article on a deadline, so she gave me a free afternoon the next day. If your editor is not like that, honestly … forget that editor. They have no right to demand even more free labor from you.

5. The people at AAAS are not deities upon whose every word you should hang.

AAAS publishes ‘Science’, the top-tier journal. We got to meet and endure long presentations by some of the people in charge. They had just come off of a big lapse in judgement for an op-ed they had published. The op-ed maybe had a good point hidden in it somewhere, but it was not very well written, so it came across as jealousy. Wouldn’t a good editor have caught that and stopped it from being published? Well, the AAAS editors did not, I think because they’re mostly male. And the reason I think that especially is because one of the people in charge, while he was giving us a four-hour-long lecture that I’m sure he was very proud of, said something very off-color and gender-biased. I called him out on it (yes, I did, because as I say, AAAS people are not deities whom you should suck up to), and he still DIDN’T GET IT!! In fact, he relentlessly kept making the same joke on and on, just to really drive it in. Big surprise, honestly, coming from people who published this.

6. Don’t expect your news room to enclose you in a big hug.

Some news rooms did do that. Mine did not. I mean, every one was very nice, and bent over to make my experience fulfilling … like my editor who let me write stories I had pitched and cared about … or the guy from the artwork department who let me fulfill my dream of making 3D imagery to go along with my article … or the established science writer who let me bore her one lunch as I asked her questions. So in all the important ways, I was supported. But in the meantime, over on Slack, I was reading about the experiences of other fellows, and they were all like [okay, not all, but it felt like that] “OMG! I was thrown a big surprise party today!” and “OMG! I got taken out for lunch and ice cream.” Etc etc. When we all re-congregated in D.C. for the wrap-up, we were talking and those of us who’d gotten no parties or ice cream commiserated together. So see, it’s not you. It’s just that particular news room.

7. National newsroom, or local paper? Well …

They will tell you that all the sites are equal, blah blah blah. But let’s face it, when you get placed at NPR, or the Washington Post, there’s an extra ‘WOW’ factor in place. Let’s just say that out-loud so we can get past it. It comes out in some really snooty ways. Like for example … some hot-shot someone-or-other was a speaker at our Wrap-Up. And later he tweeted a thread about “check out the cool articles the MMFellows wrote this summer!” Well, all the ones he tweeted were from the Post, NPR, PBS NewsHour, etc … all the well-known, national places. Forget him.

8. You’re new to this, not a professional; so don’t let anyone stress you out.

I know there’s always the profile out there of some person who, with no experience at all, shows up and does everything better than all the people already working there, and comes with great insight and great energy, etc etc. Well. If you’re that person, great. But the majority of us should accept that we are not. You are going into a professional newsroom, and you’ve probably never worked in one before. Don’t put pressure on yourself to “know everything” and to appear polished and well-experienced and like you’re going to hit the ground running. Obviously, also don’t go around telling everyone, “OMG! I don’t know what I’m doing!” Just use whatever gumption you can summon to get you through, but also be honest about what you think you can handle, and what you need help with.

9. Forget about everyone else.

Some people published 20 or 30 articles during their summer. I published 8. That was one of the lowest numbers. But I was super happy with that, because they were eight articles that I cared a lot about, and I’m proud of them. So proud, I encourage you to find my favorites and read them! Yes, there was a bit of time during the middle of the summer when I still only had 3 or 4 articles and the edits on my next article were so slow in coming, and every time they came back there were more problems I needed to address, and I thought, I’ll never get another article published! And there were so many other topics I wanted to move on to… eventually, I did! Literally, this is a case of “you do you”. If you want to publish a lot of articles, then do that. But don’t do it just because you’re trying to keep up with some threshold. If you feel bad, just remember I published 8. Compare yourself to me.

10. Are you the oldest fellow of your cohort? Don’t worry!

I was either the oldest or one of the oldest. And yes, going into it, I did feel like I would be out of place, or feel behind everyone .. but as soon as I got to DC, all those feelings melted away. Everyone was super nice and welcoming and no one worried about comparing age. And maybe even because I was older, I wasn’t as willing to sacrifice every single minute of the summer to this fellowship and this fellowship only.

11. Last but not least, AAAS MM Fellows are the sweetest …

I can be quiet and reserved, but pretty much everyone in my cohort acted like I was their best friend anyways. Especially by wrap-up, when we’d all congregated back in D.C. again (when I FINALLY made it there — see point #1 above). They were all so lovely, and I have very nice, warm memories of how included and cared-about everyone made me feel.

(This is a follow-on article from My best tips for your AAAS Mass Media Fellowship application.)




Scicomm tips: making maps

I had to make a map of Brazil — of a specific province in Brazil called Paraná. The map was for this story, that I also wrote. The map is the second image. I know it looks small and insignificant, but my, that map took me a long time to make.

It first takes a while to process through what maps you will need. Then you have to find them. In my case, I need at the very least a map of Brazil and a map of Paraná. Luckily, I found those shapefiles (map files) easily enough through quick searches. And then I opened up the map software I like to use, which is QGIS.

I like that one because it is free and open-source, and who wants to pay or get reliant on ArcGIS anyways?!

Now, what I still had to figure out was, how would I add the rest of the world in the background. First, I tried with the OpenStreetMap option that is available right in QGIS.

Adriana Alves parana map
Map with OpenStreetMap in the background.

However, I ended up not liking this because way too many cities were labeled, and there were distracting black squiggles that you couldn’t even read everywhere. It just made the map look busy and pock-marked.

Luckily, I then ran into something called Natural Earth. It’s a map-making kit. I found it on this great tutorial that explains how to make pretty maps in QGIS. I have been using this tutorial, I believe, for perhaps 8 years by now. I discovered when I was working in Maryland. And this tutorial is so nice and step-by-step, and it keeps getting updated. It is still as relevant for QGIS today as it was 8 years ago. I swear, every time I make a map in QGIS, I come back to this tutorial. This time, it’s been updated with a link to the Natural Earth kit. I downloaded the kit and used it for my own map of Brazil. It took a bit of clicking around to understand how the maps in the kit are arranged, but I finally figured it out, and I ended up with a nice background of the western hemisphere:

Adriana Alves parana map 3
A nice map showing Paraná in Brazil. Made with Natural Earth.

Maybe I should have made the inset map of Paraná smaller? Well, any case, I’m sure there’s still room for improvements, but it’s a nicer and cleaner map than the first one I made. At least, you can see exactly where Paraná is, right? That was the whole point.

How the WIRED summer went

After our fellowship was done, we were all flown back to D.C., and we had a “poster fair”. All of us fellows who had been placed at newsrooms pasted and arranged our articles on posters, and then we had some very nice and supportive guests tell us what a good job we had all done.

My poster:


And then all of us fellows spent the rest of the two-day “wrap-up” sessions joking, giggling, eating, and having each other’s back. It was great.

Now that it’s all done, here in no particular order are the stand-out moments as a AAAS media fellow:

1. We gave each other certificates for “superlative awards” (like what you do in high school year books), and one of the fellows brought along her childhood sticker collection to decorate the certificates with. They came out looking glittery and glamorous!

2. I got to email, call, and interview people at the Sweden UN office. I also talked to someone at the Swedish consulate.

3. And I got to interview the presenters of an Arabic science show that I’ve watched for years!

4. Seeing my name on the WIRED home page, my name coupled with the article I wrote. It never got old

5. Biking across the Golden Gate bridge.

6. Writing my favorite article of all, which was full of good people, quiet, storied forests, and voices that are heard less often.

7. Writing about Sweden, Arabs, and North Carolina (in three separate articles)

8. The apartment I sublet in Berkeley, with the attic bedroom where you can climb out the window onto the roof, and sit and read in the sunshine

9. The Ghirardelli ice cream store right by my train stop

10. Emailing most any scientist, activist, or natural resource worker and having them be eager to get back to me and be interviewed by me (though this did not extend to government people, especially in Maryland)

Making maps

I had to verify a fact for my article I’m working on now. It’s about a bunch of polluting power plants being built in a neighborhood in Maryland where mostly Black people live. Having lived in Maryland, I can tell you that this is exactly the sort of thing that Maryland would do.

What the community activists told me was: there is no other place in the United States where you have 3 natural-gas power plants of that size within 2.9 miles of each other. So of course, I wanted to include that in the article, it’s a pretty powerful statistic.

But, no one could show me any report that backed it up.

All I got was a fact-sheet prepared by the non-profit Earthjustice. That fact-sheet said: after all 3 power plants are built, Brandywine will have more power-generating capacity than 99.9% of the country.

This was, first, a more confusing statistic – a lot less clean – compared to the first version. Second, I didn’t have any idea how they’d come up with that figure.

So, I got out my own nifty mapping and GIS skills. I felt so smart!! I have done GIS stuff for 10 years; and the particular program that I used, Google Earth Engine, I used almost every day for the last 2 years of my Ph.D. work. But I haven’t really touched it since I graduated in May. When I pulled it open, I kind of just stared at the screen. I couldn’t remember how to do anything. And it’s only been two months!

But soon I was coding up a storm:

power plant map code

I found a big spreadsheet from the EPA that lists all the power plants in the US. Somehow, I managed to upload that in Earth Engine. Then, I found a shapefile (computer map) of Maryland. Then, I was able to search through the giant EPA spreadsheet, and first pull out only the power plants in Maryland, then only the large ones, then only the fossil fuel-powered ones. It was super great! I’d forgotten I could do all that in Earth Engine, so it was like getting surprise presents one after the other.

Then my script crashed. So I had to redo everything, and I made sure to express my anger in the new script title.

Then, I mapped it all:

power plant map

The black dots are the power plants with a capacity of over 200 megawatts, of all fuel types. There’s one place that has two such plants, by Riviera Beach (the blob south of Baltimore). And the string of 3 black dots, with the red line over them, are the three power plants set to be running in Brandywine by next year.

So the statistic I was able to safely use in the article is: there is no other community in Maryland that will have as many large power plants as Brandywine. It would have been nice to go further and see if this was true for the whole US, but I didn’t have time to visually examine the map; or alternatively, I wasn’t sure how to get Earth Engine to do those calculations for me.

But any case, I’m really happy I was able to do this little bit. And it was worth it for sure to give the article a stronger backing.

Third article for WIRED

This article was going to be a triumph for me, for many different reasons. First, because it was about Sweden, pretty much. Second, because all the instagram/twitter/blog/facebook stalking I’ve done over the years came into handy. No one can say all of that was a waste of time any more. I went from a random Twitter post, to a Twitter account; then hunted up an Instagram account, which was all in Swedish, and figured out what blog I needed to follow, which was also all in Swedish, and found the email to get in contact with the girl on the cargo ship. I could not have been more proud, I could not imagined that I could ever, ever get a chance to write something like this!!

But then, when the story actually came out, I was super upset. I felt this weird sense of loss that I maybe shouldn’t try to explain. And I was also sad because some of my descriptions had been taken out of the story. Like, I had mentioned the Swedish midsummer beckoning for Kajsa to come home. And I had used the description “sunrise-bound” in the paragraph talking about the ship gliding over the Atlantic.

It was a little hard and mournful to see those killed off.

Here’s the article.

I actually have since also written my fourth article, but there was no big to-do about that. It was just a short little thing. I mean, I should have been really excited, because this one was in Greenland, so there was a chance I could talk to a Danish person. But I don’t know, that didn’t appeal too much for some reason.

Maybe I thought I was pushing my luck with too many stories from Scandinavia, even though this Greenland story was assigned to me. It wasn’t me that chased it down.

Well, I regret to say that I didn’t actually fulfill the original purpose of the Greenland story. I was supposed to find out: are big icebergs like the one described going to get stuck by villages and force evacuations from villages frequently from here on out, because of climate change? Or was this just a freak accident, due to some combination of the depth of the water, or the size of that iceberg, or the elevation of that island? No one that I spoke to actually knew. My interview-people were all researchers who have been to Greenland, and know a lot about glaciers and icebergs; but none of them had seen that particular iceberg, and they couldn’t say anything definite merely through looking at the pictures of it.

I contacted people in Denmark and Greenland, but they all got back to me too late. Or, they just told me, “no, can’t help,” and then when I emailed back, “do you know anyone who can help,” the reply was “unfortunately not.” Well.

In other news, I found out today from a lady called Therese Øvergård that my bristlecone pine film was not chosen to be played at the Fredrikstad animation festival. I thought it would because I had an idea that all student films are chosen! But I guess not. I got a similar email from Therese two years ago when I’d entered the film, “Who’s cutting down Yusuf’s trees?”. She always ends the email with, “Thank you for submitting your film!” I think you should leave off the exclamation points at moments like this. I’m going to check the YouTube stats. I give it 50-50 that no one from Norway has watched the film in the first place. Not to say if they’d watched it they would have picked it. But you at least would hope that they’d watch.

And this was the most carefully prepared animation I’d ever made. I was a little sad this morning. Good-bye to the bristlecone pine. It’s sunset-time.




Smarmy in the interview

I was interviewing these people.  I should have known they would turn out to be annoying because they were the only ones who had a secretary set the call up. And they’re honestly not such important people anyways. Now you know where administrator fees go at a public university!

They had an edge in their voice the whole time: why are you so stupid to be asking these questions, and why are you so unsophisticated, why are you so prone to splashing about in fallacies?

Every time I go back and read the interview notes, they sound ruder and ruder.

That kind of put me off my week.

Also, I don’t know what I’m doing after this fellowship. It is just now starting to be of some concern, because everything I applied to seems to have fallen through in the last two weeks. And some of the things I applied to were easy-peasy jobs, but I never even heard back.

My fall-back plan is just to go to Sweden. But I’m applying for things – very simple things – that would at least let me go there without starving and becoming homeless. And even those don’t work out. Not a single thing that has to do with Sweden works out for me, did anyone else notice?

I don’t ever quite get there, do I?




My first article

I feel a little unreasonably proud at the moment. I really wasn’t expecting to, because this is simply not a story I think I would click on and bother to read even though I’m the one who wrote it:

wired story 1

I was assigned to write this story.

When stories like this pop up, I just think: I know all the ice is melting, the details are not necessary in order to be miserable about it. Had I clicked on it, I suspect I would have stopped reading after, I don’t know, the second line, maybe?

I think with stories like this, it works better as a photo essay. So you write a short paragraph, and then there’s either a pretty drawing or a picture that keeps you engaged. Otherwise, my mind just glazes over, unless the writing is like Harry Potter, or like Charlotte Bronte.

But when my editor was editing it, she told me the sentences were beautiful. I thought: oh! There’d only been a single sentence whose symmetry and rhythm I’d been especially pleased with.

I had tried to brace myself for quick, brusque editing: that maybe my editor is busy, and maybe the standard newsroom etiquette is to allot time only for negative feedback, and not waste time on anything positive. When my editor told me about “beautiful sentences,” it was a really nice compliment.

WIRED articles very often begin sentence after sentence with the word ‘and’. It’s some kind of style that’s just not me. My editor added some of those ‘ands’ into my story, but then I took most of them out, and she didn’t say anything. That made me really happy, too – that hopefully, the voice in my stories will sound as much as possible as the voice of the person who wrote Daily Tar Heel opinion pieces!

She also put in the word ‘blockbuster’, which I didn’t like, and I removed it without push-back, too. But she made other changes that I did like. She kind of drew the strings so that the story was tighter. In the opening paragraph, I had included the image of “a watery grave”, and my editor added “walking the plank” to that. The back-and-forth was a good partnership.

I finished the article early this morning, before we all got to the office; the work-day passed in a blur of edits, calling some of my sources back to get clarifications, having to re-write the whole introduction – painstakingly, piecing together ideas from my editor and reviewing my interview notes – and then getting everything fact-checked.

At last, the article went live.

Because I had stayed up really late last night, and then gotten up at dawn this morning to finish the article in time, I got to leave early. So I walked out of the dim playground that is the WIRED main offices on the third floor of a restored warehouse, and into the bustle of downtown San Francisco, where everything around me seemed to want to tickle my fancy. A museum of some sort appeared before me;  I wandered into the spacious gift shop, full of books and pictures to examine. Further along the street, there appeared a Ghirardelli chocolate shop, and I thought it was time for a celebration. The brownie I got wasn’t really that good, though I don’t think that will stop me from going back for a sundae some day.

I went home on a quiet, empty train, before the rush of 5 pm.

Walking from my exit stop to my place where I live, the wind was waving against my face with the touch that reminds me of the last two times I went to Sweden in the summer. Along the road, spilling out of the front yards of all the houses, flowers lifted their pretty faces. In all colors – snowdrifts of white petals; roses flushed with pink or cream; buds wrapped against themselves, slightly yellow, whose scent was like the southern magnolias back in North Carolina. Riots of orange and lemony stems, and whole fences shrugged over with a shawl of bright violet. In the distance, the solemn green hills.

I had thought I was really going to hate it here.


Working on my first article

My inbox was not empty … I had almost everyone respond to my requests for interviews. So I spoke with five people on the phone yesterday, sometimes back to back. The longest interview was 50 minutes.

Since I am writing about a journal paper, that like I said seems quite easy to sensationalize, I can’t call this my favorite type of science writing. But, it was rather flattering to get to talk to so many scientists nevertheless. And, one of the people I talked to was Swedish. I’ll let you guess if that was an accident or not.

I wrote up the article – I’ve never had to write something so fast – and I’m not sure what I think about it, or whether I would read past line three, or whether I would even click on the article in the first. Oh well. Today, I fact-check it.