We have a full slate of fine candidates. Please take the time to read their statements and vote.
Voting is open to all current members. A link to the online ballot and a password were sent to all current members. The ballot must be completed by 5pm on January 3rd.
Board Officers – candidate statements
President – Jane Hu
I’m a freelance science journalist, reporting on stories at the intersection of science and society for publications like Slate, Pacific Standard, Scientific American, and Outside, as well as an editor and fact checker.
I joined the NSWA board shortly after I moved to Seattle in 2014, and have served as Vice President for the last two years. 2017 was an exciting year for us; we’ve taken on some ambitious projects — the Compelling Science Storytelling conference, for example — and deepened our community ties by holding events in conjunction with local organizations and venues like Town Hall, the Society for Professional Journalists, Peddler Brewing, Hugo House, Ada’s Technical Books, Floating Bridge Brewing, and more.
As president, I would look forward to working with the NSWA board and our members to create more quality programming and opportunities for science writers. In addition to events focusing on the craft of writing (e.g., our February event on narrative and international reporting, and our September freelancing panel), I’d like to generate more opportunities for writers to learn about the latest science issues and connect with local experts. And since we have a great base of members and supporters in Seattle, I’d like to spearhead efforts to honor our organization’s name and connect with our colleagues in other parts of the Northwest — especially Portland.
NSWA is always eager to hear members’ suggestions for events and programming, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have an idea to share!
Vice-President – Wayt Gibbs
I have served on the NSWA board for two years and have enjoyed being an active NSWA member since arriving in Seattle in 2006. I work at Intellectual Ventures, a research and invention company in Bellevue, as editorial director on projects ranging from scientific papers in astronomy and paleontology, to multivolume books on the science of cooking and bread making, to media relations around malaria, metamaterials, and nuclear energy. After a short stint on the science desk at The Economist, I worked from 1993 through 2006 as senior writer and editor at Scientific American magazine, where I primarily produced feature articles. In addition to my day job at IV, I am a contributing editor for Scientific American and for Anthropocene magazine, and I freelance as a science writer and editor. I’ve written in recent years for SciAm, Science, Nature, Discover, Wired, IEEE Spectrum, NBC News, and others.
In the past year as member of the NSWA board, I served on the travel awards committee, organized the annual holiday party at IV Laboratory, set up the June social event with Lynda Mapes, participated as a speaker in the Sept. panel on the business of freelancing, and arranged for the Pacific Science Center to host NSWA’s coming holiday party. In a trying time for journalism and science, NSWA has increased its work to champion our profession and bring our members together with scientists and each other. I look forward to helping add even more useful, challenging, and fun events for science writers.
Secretary – Ashley Braun
With two years of experience as an at-large board member with the Northwest Science Writers Association, I would be honored to serve next in the role of secretary. My attention to detail, excellent note-taking skills, and dedication and familiarity with the organization would help keep it running smoothly.
In my past year on the board, I spearheaded (and presented at) an event on fact-checking, which also paved the way for a continuing partnership with Town Hall Seattle. In a time of shrinking funding opportunities, I’ve been a champion of the two $1,000 Career Development Awards and last year organized their application and selection process. I was inspired to join the board several years ago after receiving one of these awards, which helped me transition from a staff job at NOAA to a full-time freelance science journalist. Next year, I plan to keep exploring potential funding and formats for a regional workshop covering the business of freelancing and career development. This community has been instrumental to my own development as a science communicator and I hope my continued service strengthens that support for others now and in the future.
Treasurer – Matt Vivion
I’m a web developer for the University of Washington (UW) with a background in science communication. I was NSWA’s treasurer in 2017 and served as an at-large board member for the previous four years. I joined in 2008, worked as calendar editor in 2009, and redesigned our website in 2010 and 2015.
I’m currently the web marketing manager for the Center on Reinventing Public Education at UW Bothell. Previously I had a similar role for the fundraising team at Swedish, where I worked for four years. I’ve also filled communications roles for science departments at the UW and worked as a secretary for the communications director at The Seattle Public Library during an ambitious capital campaign in the early 2000s. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in screenwriting from the University of California, Riverside. I’m from Colton, California and moved to Seattle in 2000.
My goals as treasurer in 2018 will be to continue streamlining our member management system, improving our website, and contributing to NSWA’s goal to foster science communication in the Pacific Northwest.
I was trained as a marine scientist rather than as a journalist. Since I got a late start as a writer, it has been an arduous journey to shed my scientist’s skin and improve my writing prowess. One lesson I learned along the way was to start introducing myself as a writer who understands science rather than as a scientist who writes. Writing books is my preferred outlet; I have published three since 2013. As well, I have published short-form articles in Crosscut, Grist, Earth Island Journal, and elsewhere. I am running for the NWSWA board because I think I can use my skill set to support our organization. Some ideas I have include: enhancing NWSWA’s professional development for members in the craft aspect of writing, establishing mentorship linkages among experienced and less experienced writers, facilitating ways for members to comfortably meet and interact at our social functions, and helping to organize interesting opportunities to view and discuss science in our community. I look forward to the opportunity to serve.
For six years, I have been an interpretive writer and content developer for exhibits in museums, zoos, botanic gardens, and science centers, and achieved recognition as a professional Certified Interpretive Planner with the National Association for Interpretation in 2016. I am now shifting toward freelance work as a writer and developer, while working part-time as a zookeeper at Woodland Park Zoo. The programs offered by NSWA have been invaluable in making connections, understanding the process of other forms of science writing, and learning about the resources available to writers. I would love to take a more active role in expanding and promoting those opportunities.
As a new member of the board, I would especially like to foster the flow of information between science writers and centers of informal science education. We face similar challenges in communicating the processes, applications, and implications of scientific research — developing narratives that are personal and relevant to our chosen audiences, balancing the neutrality of fact and the power of storytelling, making complex concepts accessible without sacrificing accuracy. Building connections with the informal science education community can offer insights into our craft, as well as providing inspiration for new stories to explore
Thank you for the opportunity to both contribute and grow as part of the NSWA community!
I, Breanna Draxler, am motivated to run for the NSWA board in order to support and more actively contribute to the local science writing community. In these times, it’s more important than ever to empower fellow journalists to report on critical issues, and to help provide them with the skills and resources to do so.
I am currently an associate editor on staff at bioGraphic, where I edit features and manage production. Previously, I was an editor at Popular Science, and a staff writer and editor at Discover Magazine. I have a Master’s degree in science journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I also worked for the Center for Environmental Journalism.
In my career thus far, I have played an active role mentoring up-and-coming journalists, both formally and informally. At Popular Science, for example, I ran the internship program, guiding grad students to become critical members of our editorial team. I would love to help facilitate continued support of this kind within NSWA cirlces. I would also be happy to aid in expanding NSWA’s reach, so we can meaningfully engage a larger, more diverse group of journalists. Having been an active member of science journalism circles in Colorado, Wisconsin, New York, San Francisco, and now Seattle, I can offer perspectives that may help bridge gaps or overcome differences. Science impacts all people, and the voices that report on them should reflect that.
It would be an honor and a joy to contribute to this community. Thank you for considering my candidacy for the NSWA board.
I am a freelance investigative technology reporter based in Seattle. My clients include Wired, The Guardian, IEEE Spectrum, Air & Space, MIT Technology Review, The Economist and New Scientist. In the last couple of years I’ve broken stories about giant airships, AI body scanners, faulty defibrillators, artificial aurorae and monkey-powered robots, but I spend much of time writing about transportation innovation, AI and surveillance technologies. I’ve been a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, and won the AAS Kavli Science Journalism Gold Award in 2015.
I’ve been a member of NSWA for the last four years and greatly enjoy the events and community around it. I would now like to give a little back, helping to organise some of the meet-ups and events, fostering professional development and keeping NSWA the most interesting and useful science writers’ group in the region.
I really enjoy the programs that NSWA puts together, and as an at-large board member I’d love to be part of that fun! Let’s build on the community that is NSWA and create more opportunities to learn, connect, and be dazzled by science and storytelling. I’m excited to brainstorm programming ideas and bring new experiences to NSWA members.
I’m a communications professional with a couple of decades of experience at intersection of agriculture, natural resources, and education. I worked mostly at Washington State University as a PIO science writer, a research associate, and a small farms and food systems extension educator––all while living in Seattle. Now, I’m freelancing for the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and writing and editing here and there. I balance my digital life by making things and communing with nature on foot, by kayak, or on skis.
I am a freelance journalist and the science writer at Washington Sea Grant (WSG), an organization administered by NOAA and housed at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment that conducts and supports marine research and outreach. In my work for WSG, I write articles and reports about WSG’s research, work with scientists to communicate their work to a broader audience, serve as editor for the Sea Star newsletter, and help mentor students in WSG’s science communication fellowship program.
As a freelancer, I have written and reported about science, the environment, and adventure for national and local publications including National Geographic, Outside, and Crosscut. I moved to Seattle in February 2014 for the fellowship program at Grist for early career environmental writers. The thriving science writing community that I found through NSWA is one of the things that convinced me to stay here.
I want to serve on the board because I would like to help to support that science writing community and play a bigger role within NSWA as it continues to offer events that provide resources, inspiration, and camaraderie.
I’m a senior science writer and independent journalist who has recently moved back to Oregon after nearly 20 years in the Boston area. I’m a little removed from the Seattle activities and would like to find ways to extend some of NWSA’s fabulous events to those of us scattered elsewhere throughout the Pacific Northwest, perhaps via Internet and an event or two in Oregon.
My extensive editorial experience includes daily news coverage, weekly investigative reporting, monthly magazine writing and editing, and research institution communications. Most recently, I led a small editorial team at a nonprofit online research news site. My stories have appeared in the Oregonian, Boston Globe, MIT Technology Review, Science, and others.
For the last 30-plus years, activities with local journalism groups have enriched my life in innumerable ways. Most recently, I was president of New England Science Writers. Previously, I served on the board of the Northern California Science Writers Association. I was also reelected for three terms on the governing board of the National Association of Science Writers. In these roles, I also partnered with other local and national journalism groups to develop and host mid-career professional development and social activities, including workshops on data journalism, blogging, investigative reporting, meet-the-editors, multimedia training, and more.
I’ve been writing about science for more than 14 years at the University of Washington, with stints in bioengineering, genetics and genomics, nursing, and environmental and occupational health sciences. I’ve currently got on the hat of assistant director of communications for UW Information Technology, which provides technology support to all three campuses, UW medical centers and global research operations. And UW-IT is home to a massive supercomputer. I was thrilled to be part of the planning committee for the 2017 Compelling Science Storytelling conference in Seattle. It brought home how much programs and opportunities like this — to network and share skills and glean know-how — matter to ilk like us. I would like to join the NSWA board and help plan programs of interest to the science writing community and help get the word out about these activities.
I am a scientist and freelance writer with a passion for the outdoors. My research work has led to peer-reviewed publications in Cell Journal, Harmful Algae, and Frontiers in Neuroscience. My quest to find answers that can help both humans and our environment has led me to study a range of topics- from laboratory studies in Neuroscience to Immunology to Environmental Science. Lately, with the current political climate, I’ve found a passion for working with climate science and marine ecosystems. Writing and publishing about this topic has taken on a greater urgency. I often find the marine sciences underrepresented in science – writing circles and would like to help represent what I feel is a growing field of study. Currently I write marine-related stories for Hatchery International, Fisheries Magazine, Hakai, Aquaculture North America, and National Fisherman.
After growing up in Seattle working with the UW as a science writer with SeaGrant and NOAA as a biologist and NEPA writer, I decided to make the move south to Portland for a change of pace and work with WSU in Vancouver in the Neuroscience department. There I and other researchers had a chance to be part of Science on Tap. Science communication and sharing our research was a large part of my lab and our partnership with OMSI in Portland. I would love to share and learn from other scientists and create an engaging program of events through NSWA for people to have fun and network at. When I’m not making discoveries in the lab or crafting on my computer you can find me exploring the backwoods of Oregon, tip- toeing to mountain tops or taming raging rivers.
I’m an independent journalist in Seattle whose writing about science, environment, and global development has appeared in Discover, Harper’s, Hakai, Nature, The New Yorker, NPR, PRI, STAT News, Washington Post, among others.
In the two years — and counting — that I’ve been able to call Seattle home, the Northwest Science Writers Association has been formative in how I’ve built my professional community locally and nationally. Last year, NSWA supported my travel to a data journalism conference through the Career Development Award. NSWA also brought me on to their monthly events to discuss the nuts of bolts of international reporting and a separate panel on fact-checking.
Now, I’d like to help organize these types of events and create opportunities for science writers based in the Pacific Northwest. As a board member, I’d be very interested in creating a mentorship system to support early-career science writers, as I fell into this category not very long ago. I’d also be interested in organizing events that bring together photojournalists, filmmakers, and designers to exchange ideas and potentially collaborate. And finally, as a freelancer, I’d be interested in organizing resources for pitching, finding clients, and fellowship opportunities for others.