We have a full slate of fine candidates. Please take the time to read their statements below and then cast your ballot.


Voting is open to all current members beginning on December 16. The ballot must be completed by 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 2. Results of the election will be tallied by outgoing president Wayt Gibbs and announced at NSWA’s Annual Meeting and Holiday Party on January 7.

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Candidates for President:

Ashley Braun

2020 marks my fifth year of service on the NSWA board: two years as an at-large board member, two as secretary, and this past year as vice president.

Based in Seattle, 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. I’ve also worked as an editor and writer for NOAA, and I got my start in journalism at environmental news site Grist.org.

NSWA has been instrumental in helping make the connections and community that have shaped my science writing career—from a $1,000 Career Development Award that helped me launch my full-time freelancing career to close friends and colleagues whom I talk to pretty much every day. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of serving on this board in an attempt to give back to the organization that has already given so much to me.

This past year has been a challenging one, and NSWA has tried to listen and adapt to the changing times and our members’ needs. As NSWA president, I’m dedicated to building a diverse and inclusive community of science writers across the Pacific Northwest. We have an impressive slate of programs already, including our writing awards, mentoring program, and decolonizing science communication lecture series, but I know there’s always room for improvement. I want to help empower our members to build the connections and access the resources they need to tell the full stories of science and the people behind it.

Candidates for Vice President:

Ellen Kuwana

I’m a freelance science writer/editor and copy editor for the Journal of Environmental Health. I worked 20 years at UW on biomedical research projects and Seattle Children’s as the sole communications specialist for its bioethics center. I’ve been executive director of a medical nonprofit; headed scientific writing at a strategic communications agency; and started a COVID-19 relief project where I’ve raised >$100,000 and fed/caffeinated >21,000 frontline workers since March 13, 2020.

As part of NSWA, I was the lead organizer for the sold-out 2017 regional conference, Compelling Science Storytelling, held at the Hutch. I secured sponsors and oversaw all financial aspects. I’ve helped secure venues, speakers, and sponsors for several NSWA annual parties and helped secure the premier sponsor for the AAAS Press Party.

For National Association of Science Writers, I co-lead the Regional Congress; I’m a community manager for the freelance listserv; and I conceptualized and host the SciWriCoffee chats twice a month.

As a Japanese American, I want to spotlight and amplify minority voices. This year I joined the Asian American Journalists Association and attended their national conference. I helped organize a NSWA–AAJA trivia night and want to plan more events with other underrepresented groups.

I have a MS from UCSF and know many researchers. I have many ideas for 2021, such as teaming with: Theo Chocolate for science of chocolate + a tasting, ARMADA to talk antibiotic resistance, UW Visual Design for logo redesign, bioethicists (e.g., Nanibaa’ Garrison to share ethical, social, and cultural implications of genetic/genomic research in Indigenous communities).

Candidates for Treasurer:

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 and have enjoyed meeting and working with even more NSWA members over the past three years. In 2020, I was elected as Secretary, but transitioned to the role of Treasurer when the position became unexpectedly vacant.

As Treasurer, I helped organize and facilitate the 2020 AAAS press party, the largest event NSWA has put on in recent memory, with a budget of $50,000. I moved the NSWA accounts to an “open book” model to improve financial transparency and made changes to our membership systems that saved us hundreds of dollars a year. I also manage NSWA’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, and I served on the Career Development Awards committee.

I am looking forward to another great year at NSWA, as we hopefully move back to in-person events.

Candidates for Secretary:

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, podcasts like How to Save a Planet, and contribute scripts to the educational YouTube channel SciShow. I joined NSWA back in 2017 after moving back to the Seattle area and have served on the board since 2020. This year I helped organize several social events, including two trivia nights, hosted a popular fact-checking panel, and helped judge the Best of the Northwest science-writing contest. I’m looking forward to serving again and think that my organizational and planning skills can be put to good use as NSWA secretary.

Candidates for At-Large Board Members:

Mara Grunbaum

I’m a freelance science writer and editor who specializes in covering nature and wildlife. I have a master’s degree in science, health, and environmental reporting from New York University and previously worked as an editor at Scholastic for six years. I now freelance for Scholastic’s student-focused science and math publications, as well as serving as a senior editor at Natural History Magazine and writing for outlets including Slate, the New York Times for Kids, UCSF Magazine, and National Geographic Kids.

Since moving home to Seattle in 2018 and starting out as a professional freelancer, I’ve appreciated the community and connections I’ve been able to find through NSWA. Some of my fondest memories from the past two years include hiking around Mount Saint Helens on an NSWA trip and dancing among fossils with other science writers at the NSWA/AAAS party at the Burke Museum.

Staying in touch with our communities has been more important than ever this year, and as a new at-large board member I would love to find creative ways to maintain those connections virtually—and hopefully soon in person again. I’m particularly interested in helping NSWA members learn more about different types of science writing, including writing for kids, and build a useful variety of skills.

When I left New York and its thriving community of science writers, I was thrilled to find an equally vibrant one here in Seattle. It would be an honor to join the NSWA board and help the organization evolve from here.

David Mills

My primary connection to science communication is as the Artistic Director of Infinity Box Theatre Project. Infinity Box is a growing group of projects, each bringing some part of the science community together with members of the theater community and inviting them to have some creative theatrical fun. We then use these theatrical events to invite the public into deeper, more human conversations about science and its consequences.

I joined NSWA in 2016, largely as a way to meet science writers so I could invite them to one of these projects – Centrifuge. I soon discovered that what I had joined was a community of marvelous people, passionate about science and storytelling about science. These were people who were all about supporting each other – and who knew how to have a serious good time. My people.

Centrifuge has been such productive fun, I have been having conversations with other members, exploring more ways that NSWA and Infinity Box could join forces to find new ways of using theatrical storytelling to engage with new audiences. Someone thought it a good idea for me to join the board and to help with all the things that NSWA already does and also help to generate new ideas. I think so too.

We are in the middle of some challenging times. As we continue to cope with the difficulties, I hope we can also mine them for the new possibilities they also contain. NSWA can do some exciting things in 2021.

Tom Rickey

I’ve benefited immensely from my experiences through NASW and in recent years through NSWA and I’d like to offer something back to my peers. I feel that standing for science and standing for fact, in our society today, is suddenly a bold statement, and I’m proud to be part of these two organizations that do both.

My entry to “science writing” was both random and fortuitous. I was a liberal arts major in college and worked several years as an intern, reporter and editor at a small newspaper in upstate New York, then applied for a science writing position at a major university. (I was hired because of my powers of persuasion, not knowledge of science!) I spent 24 years covering engineering, medicine and everything else at an academic medical center before moving to PNNL as a science writer in 2013.

While I have not sought or held leadership positions in NASW or NSWA, I have fostered the careers of more than two dozen writers, guiding them through the challenges of institutional communications while maintaining the integrity of their writing. I do not consider board membership as serving an association as much as serving the individuals who make up the organization; I love working with writers, honing their craft, absorbing their critiques of my own work, and helping them scout out career possibilities. I’ve benefited immensely from my relationships with other science writers and I’d be proud to serve an organization dedicated to the people exercising such a wonderful craft.

Chris Tachibana

I’m a science editor and writer at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and the journal Health Services Research, where I’m the senior managing editor. I also write a little bit for Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Since 2010, I’ve been posting about recent work by NSWA members at the Member Writing page of our website.

I’m motivated to serve on the NSWA board because I owe my science writing and editing career to NSWA. After nearly 20 years of bench research and teaching undergraduate genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology, I launched a career change. The officers and members of NSWA welcomed and supported me as a writing and editing rookie. They told me what worked and didn’t work when they started, gave me tips about finding freelance work, and became my colleagues and friends. Thanks to NSWA member and former officer Rebecca Hughes, I got a job at KPWHRI and the chance to expand into areas like epidemiology, health services, and health policy.

I’m constantly amazed at the collective talent, knowledge, and experience of NSWA. My goal as an at-large board member would be to ensure that we continue to be a place to share those resources and serve and celebrate the science writing community.

Hannah Weinberger

As a science & environment reporter with Crosscut, I’ve received significant support from NSWA members — both formally and informally. Getting up to speed on a new-to-me beat over the past two years would have been much more difficult without the free-flowing encouragement of NSWA members, who epitomize how collaboration beats competition in a field like ours.

Through reporting on natural disasters, land use, wildlife, environmental health and more, I’ve looked to NSWA members’ dogged reporting and genuine love of their beats for motivation and guidance. Because of that, I’m hoping to join the board in order to further support activities like curating member reporting, skill-sharing, and group skill-building. I’d love to see more group reflection on what works and doesn’t in our pieces (through “article clubs,” presentations, and even annotating work that we admire), and collective exploration of skills that might seem daunting, like working with public records, integrating multimedia into our work, and collaborating with other reporters. I also want to help keep focus on prioritizing equity in our work and in our field.

There is so much knowledge in this group, and too many stories to report — equipping all of us with the confidence to take on challenging stories, and highlight and explore each others’ work, helps all of us refine our approaches, and ensures a healthier, better-covered Pacific Northwest.