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 will be sent to all current members. The ballot must be completed by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15.


President – Wayt Gibbs
I have served as vice president of NSWA for two years, have been a member of the board for four years, and have enjoyed being an active NSWA member since arriving in Seattle in 2006. As a freelance science writer, I work for the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing to organize the scientific program for the annual ScienceWriters conference. I’m also a contributing editor for Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, and Anthropocene magazines. I have a full-time job as editorial director at Intellectual Ventures, a research and invention company in Bellevue.

Thanks to the leadership of our outgoing president Jane Hu and our dynamic board, NSWA has been on an upward trajectory. We kick-started 2019 with a fun and well-attended party at the Living Computers Museum and Labs in Seattle. Our success in attracting sponsors for that event and in encouraging members to renew at the benefactor level allowed us to create a new NSWA science writing awards program for both journalist and PIO members. This summer, I led two dozen members on our first multiday field trip, a campout and hiking adventure inside the Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument. Throughout the year, our board put on a tour of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a workshop on data visualization at Tableau, a trivia night, a student mixer, and science events on theories of consciousness and solutions to the opioid epidemic.

I see 2020 as being a banner year for NSWA as well. The giant AAAS conference is coming to town this winter, and we are well along in planning a big networking event for our members and our peers from around the world. I’m planning to organize another multiday field trip for this summer. And our board is brimming with ideas for talks, workshops, and tours that will help us develop our skills, deepen our understanding of complex topics, and make the most of the abundance of opportunities that the Pacific Northwest has to offer to science writers.

Vice President – Ashley Braun
I’m a freelance science and environmental journalist who writes, edits, and fact-checks for publications including Science, Longreads, Hakai Magazine, Science News, and DeSmog. Previously, I worked as an editor and writer for NOAA, and in 2007, I first came to Seattle for a stint at environmental news site Grist.org.

From camping trips at a volcano to funding for professional development, NSWA enables science communicators in the Pacific Northwest to find camaraderie, support, and opportunities for their careers. NSWA has supported me through different stages in my career, and I’m grateful to have contributed to this amazing community in return as secretary for the past two years and as an at-large board member for another two years.

As a board member, I’ve seen just how much work happens at every level behind the scenes to put on the parties and events, administer the organization as a nonprofit, and launch new initiatives like our science writing awards and mentorship program. This past year’s incredible growth as an organization is the result of our board trying to listen to and adapt to the evolving needs of our members and our industry, and looking beyond our borders for inspiration and collaboration. In 2019, in addition to documenting our board meetings as secretary, I have again chaired the selection committee for our $1,000 awards for career development travel, coordinated meetups with writers passing through Seattle, and am currently working to put on events in 2020 focused on investigative techniques and decolonizing science communication.

Secretary – Mark Harris
I’m a freelance investigative technology journalist, writing for a broad range of clients including Wired, The Guardian, New Scientist and MIT Technology Review. I am a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum.

I was excited to discover NSWA in 2013 and have been an active member since then. I greatly appreciated the enthusiasm, skills and knowledge embodied in our members, and am constantly surprised by the breadth and quality of the regular events. It has definitely made me a better journalist.

I joined the board in 2018 year and have enjoyed meeting and working with even more NSWA members over the past two year. In 2019, I organized a training session for Tableau’s visualization software, was a judge for NSWA’s career development awards and the inaugural science writing prizes, and am helping to research and plan the large AAAS 2020 press party. I gave a ‘How to Pitch’ workshop at the ComSciCon science communication workshop at UW in April, and have also been helping with NSWA’s social media activity.

I am looking forward to another great year at NSWA, in particular the AAAS conference in February. This is a fantastic opportunity for members to network with scientists and communicators from around the world – and also for NSWA itself to raise its profile and gain new members.

Treasurer – Matt Vivion
I’ve been NSWA’s treasurer for three years and served as an at-large board member for the previous four years. I also built and maintain our website.

I’m currently a Digital Media Specialist for the Washington State Nurses Association, which represents nearly 20,000 nurses across the state. I’ve held similar digital content and web development roles for the University of Washington, Swedish Medical Center and The Seattle Public Library. I’ve been in Seattle since 2000.

My goals as treasurer in 2020 will be to continue refining our online presence and contribute to NSWA’s goal to foster science communication in the Pacific Northwest.

At Large candidates

Breanna Draxler
With two years of board experience now under my belt, I would like to run for another term in order to provide the organization with continuity as well as some fresh ideas.

I am currently the climate editor for Yes! Magazine as well as doing contract editing with NationalGeographic.com, Grist, and Knowable, among others. Previously, I was on staff at bioGraphic, Popular Science, and Discover. 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.

Since I also serve on the board for the Society of Environmental Journalists, I can share insights and strategies from a larger nonprofit to help our NSWA community grow and improve. I very much enjoy contributing to the many great events and opportunities NSWA provides its members, and it would be an honor and a joy to continue serving.

James Gaines
I’m a freelance science journalist with a Master’s in Science Journalism. I’ve written for outlets such as the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Undark, Nature, and Upworthy. I also regularly fact-check for magazines such as Knowable and Discover and contribute scripts to the educational YouTube channel SciShow. I joined NSWA back in 2017 after moving back to the Seattle area and have found it to be one of the best parts of working in the area — I’ve appreciated both the events and the social support. I haven’t served on the board before, but am now interested in giving back.

I’m more than happy to help out in any capacity that is needed, of course, but do have some ideas I’d love to see happen. For instance, some of my favorite things NSWA’s done has been events with local science-oriented experts and organizations, such as visiting the Burke’s ichthyology department, and I’d love to coordinate more events like that in 2020. I’ve also been dreaming about events around fact-checking and how institutional knowledge about local history/politics should work in a field where so many of us are now transplants and shifting baselines are a thing.

Thanks for considering me!

Ellen Kuwana
My background is a Master’s degree from UCSF, with years of research (basic and clinical) and science communications experience (e.g., writing for Neuroscience for Kids, editing for the Journal of Environmental Health). I specialize in language level and have expertise in patient education/health literacy.

I’d like to plan some joint events with the Asian American Journalists Association and other smaller groups to promote diversity and inclusion. I’d like to spotlight how visuals can help explain science. I’m also interested in sci comms on social media/how to engage the public and get them to care about issues related to health and science. I’m percolating how to fund a science policy workshop. I support involving people in a wider region through remote access. Past NSWA involvement:

  • I helped represent NSWA at the National Association of Science Writers “Congress” of regional groups for the past 2 years; I will co-lead the Congress this upcoming year.
  • I was the lead organizer for a regional workshop, Compelling Science Storytelling, in April 2017 and raised more funds than were needed for the full-day event.
  • I arranged for Seattle Children’s Research Institute to host the NSWA holiday party one year.

I worked at UW for 15 years, Seattle Children’s Bioethics Center for 7 years, was executive director of a medical nonprofit, and have done freelance writing and editing. I am currently in charge of scientific and medical writing at Cognition Studio, a strategic communications firm, where I sometimes split infinitives.

I bring strong skills in planning events and fundraising.

Erin Ross
I’m a writer and researcher with the science and environment desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting. What, exactly, does that mean? It’s a new role so we’re still figuring it out, but right now it means that I report for web and radio, do research for our upcoming podcast, and produce segments for our outdoor and environment show, Oregon Field Guide. I took a roundabout path to journalism: from academia, to work as an aquarist, to aquarium outreach work, to museum exhibit design and live presentations. After making the jump to journalism,I wrote for NPR and Axios. My work has also appeared in Nature, Science, Scientific American, Mongabay, Big Picture Science, the Salinas Californian, the San Jose Mercury News, and others.

I’m new to NSWA, but I’m an active member of NASW, where I serve on the newly-formed journalism committee and havementored early-career journalists at yearly Science Writers meetings. Science writers are so lucky: I’ve never encountered a beat so dedicated to supporting other writers, especially early-career ones. As a NSWA board member, I would work to foster a culture of inclusivity, mentorship and support in Oregon and throughout the Northwest. I would also serve as a voice for broadcast journalists on the committee — as all science writing jobs become increasingly multimedia focused, there’s a lot we can learn from each other.

I would not be where I am today without the support and resources offered by local science writing networks, both professional and social. I’m excited to finally be in a position to pay it forward.

Elizabeth Sharpe
I’ve been writing about science for more than 16 years at the University of Washington, with stints in bioengineering, genetics and genomics, nursing, and environmental and occupational health sciences. Now, I write for UW Information Technology, which provides technology support to all three campuses, UW medical centers and global research operations.

I’ve had the honor (and the delight!) to serve on the NSWA board for the past two years. During this time, I put together a panel on the art of interviewing at The Seattle Times, where I moderated a lively discussion among four radio and print journalists. Joining forces with ComSciCon-Pacific Northwest, I helped put on a mixer that brought students interested in science communications together with NSWA members.

Recently I’ve been working to launch a NSWA peer mentoring program to foster knowledge-sharing and community among our members, by pairing up people within our organization to share career advice and grow in their professions. I hope to be able carry this effort forward next year. So, too, I would like to help cement the future of the Northwest Science Writing Award, which I spearheaded, and make it an annual award competition.

It would be an honor and a privilege to continue to serve on the NSWA board and continue to plan programs of interest for our members, particularly programs that offer networking opportunities and that are focused on topics of interest and craft.