I am a freelance journalist in the science metropolis of Boston. Sometimes, people I meet ask how this works.
Do I just run around finding stories (or worse, sit around trawling the web) and file something at the end of each day? As far as I know, that model only worked for a fictional character, “The Universal Correspondent” in novelist R.K.Narayan’s work. Typically, I don’t submit completed news stories, I send in story ideas or “pitch” editors, and write on commission if they give me the go-ahead.
Not being a beat reporter means I get to explore a wide range of topics and interests. In the same time period, I could be interviewing a MacArthur Genius about gravitational waves or researching why asafetida fell out of favor in Europe. I am also a correspondent for Science Careers.
I studied chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, a sylvan campus where spotted deer run alongside athletes. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I was part of the finishing team on the Human Genome Project. These publications in peer-reviewed journals are a souvenir from my lab days.
- Quenching of 2,5-diphenyloxazole (ppo) fluorescence by metal ions J. Luminescence 75 (1997), pp. 205–211.
- DNA sequence of human chromosome 17 and analysis of rearrangement in the human lineage. Nature. 2006 Apr 20;440(7087):1045-9.
- DNA sequence and analysis of human chromosome 8. Nature. 2006 Jan 19;439(7074):331-5.
- Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog. Nature. 2005 Dec 8;438(7069):803-19.
Being part of a big science project was exciting, but analyzing strings of A, C, G and T all day – the four letters represent the nucleotides that constitute the DNA — could, and did, get mind-numbingly boring. Surely, there was more to the alphabet ! I signed up for writing classes in the evenings. I enjoyed those classes so much, I enrolled in the Science Journalism program at Boston University.
Nowadays, I write for a general audience and you’ll find my work in magazines you can buy at the news stand. This year, I will be traveling to Oslo in September to attend a red carpet science awards ceremony, my first. It is a good life.