I’ve been itching to share this news, and now I can: I’m writing a book I’ve been wanting to write for nearly a decade!!
I’m co-writing it with Stephen Heard. It’s been hard to keep this quiet for so long, but we’ve just signed a contract with the University of Chicago Press (UCP), so now it’s official. Hooray! 🥳
What’s the book about, you ask? Well, it’s not (technically) about science communication, and it’s not about art-science integration. (Maybe, 🤞🤞 I’ll write books on those topics someday!) Instead, this book is something I’ve been working on in the background, just not writing much about here on CommNatural.
The CommNatural audience (that’s you!) is pretty omnivorous in its interests, and many of you may not even be academics or involved with science. That’s okay. The key thing to know is that I work with, coach, teach, and consult with a lot of folks who find helping students (or other developing writers) write better is difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating. And Steve and I know these folks want help – they ask us for it. That’s where our book comes in.
Ever since I started training in writing pedagogy, I’ve recognized an opportunity to help folks deal with something our book tackles head-on. Our working title is Helping Students Write in the Sciences: Strategies for Efficient and Effective Mentoring of Developing Writers. Writing is a huge part of the job of a scientist, and it’s hard – but teaching and mentoring writing is too, and it’s harder.
I field a fair number of grad student inquiry emails.
I say no to every inquiry email I receive.
For most of these prospective students, I wouldn’t be the right adviser anyway: they write me with interest in animal behavior, reproductive physiology, and wildlife biology to name a few. These emails are fairly straightforward to reply to. I don’t do that kind of science.
The trickier ones are the emails from people who clearly took time to read my bio/webpage on our department website. These folks tend to be interested in intersections of the same things I am.
Their inquiries are harder to decline, in part because I know there aren’t that many grad school opportunities at these intersections. And, in part because it would be so fun (and yes, hard work!) to jam out with a lab full of people working together on these topics.
In an audio interview and edited transcript, Wyoming Public Radio reporter Ashley Piccone interviewed me and Nell Smith (a student) about an article Nell led which discusses the importance of word choice for scientists.
In the edited article, Meaning-Making in Science Communication: A Case for Precision in Word Choice, we discuss how important it is to actually interpret results with nuance and attention to the different meanings one word can have to various people or interest groups.
Read the interview transcript here. Read the ‘Word choice matters’ paper here.
There is a great deal to learn about the work, craft, pleasure, and opportunity of writing by reflecting on what inspires us, what nuanced questions fascinate us. In these videos, two writers do just that.
These two videos were recorded in 2016, when I was an MFA candidate in the top-ranked University of Wyoming MFA program. Looking back at them several years later, the central fixations of these conversations still drive my musing and writing.
In an audio interview and this edited transcript, Wyoming Public Radio reporter London Homer-Wambeam interviewed me about an art-science integration paper I co-authored.
In the peer-reviewed article, Poetry as a Creative Practice to Enhance Engagement and Learning in Conservation Science, co-authors and I point to evidence-based examples of how poetry can be a powerful learning, reflection, and creativity-enhancing tool in science classrooms and scientists’ regular practice.
Read the interview transcript here. Read the ‘poetry and science’ paper here.