Welcome! This site is a bit like a business card - a brief introduction, with just a sampling of my writings and photography, primarily recent work. I invite you to contact me for details, a formal resume, or additional clips.
I write professionally about the physical sciences, technology and society, energy, and history of science for national magazines, including profiles of people and places. I also write about adventure travel and history of exploration, and I photograph nature and weather. A growing share of my work is drafting or editing the text of brochures and reports for government agencies, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. Often I work with a professional designer of the organization's choice, but my work has also included photographing conferences and designing reports.
From June 2011 through April 2015, I served as Senior Writer for the University of California High-Performance AstroComputing Center (UC-HiPACC). in 2012, I also was named a Contributing Editor for Sky & Telescope magazine. Over the past three years (since June 2012), I have edited 12 reports and 6 factsheets for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Previously, I was an editor for Scientific American and senior editor for IEEE Spectrum magazines in New York City, and a communications specialist for the Operational Effectiveness Practice of McKinsey & Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. My master's degree (in history of science/American intellectual history) is from New York University, and my bachelor's (in history, with a physics minor) from the University of California at Santa Cruz. I've taught scientific and technical writing at both companies and universities, including at the graduate level at the Polytechnic University of New York in Brooklyn.
I've written, edited, or coauthored a dozen books for both adults and children on science, engineering, history, and bicycling. Credits include being lead writer for the millennium book for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - Engineering Tomorrow: Today's Technology Experts Envision the Next Century, with Dave Dooling and Janie Fouke (IEEE Press, 2000) - plus writing the Smithsonian Science 101 volume Weather (Smithsonian/HarperCollins, 2007) and The Great Dayton Flood of 1913 (Arcadia Publishing, 2008). My children's books are four titles in astronomy for middle school students. In November 2012, I launched a research blog "'Our National Calamity': The Great Easter 1913 Flood" for the centennial of most widespread national disaster ever to afflict the U.S.
More than 500 of my feature articles have been published by national, regional, and specialized publications including Adventure Cyclist, Air & Space/Smithsonian, American Archaeology, Astronomy, IEEE Spectrum, Nature, Ohio, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Scientific American, Sky and Telescope, The Bent of Tau Beta Pi, and the popular Science @ NASA website. Articles of mine on astronomical topics, meteorological optics, and historical astronomers have also appeared in several encyclopedias. My 19 top journalism awards include the 2006 David N. Schramm Award of the American Astronomical Society. Twice I've received the Herbert C. Pollock Award of the Dudley Observatory to support research in the history of astronomy (2004, 2007) and was a Filson Fellow (2009) at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky, to support historical research on the 1913 flood in Kentucky. In 2010, I received a career grant to study photography from the National Association of Science Writers. In Spring 2010 and again in Spring 2011, I was a Presidential Fellow at Case Western Reserve University. In May 2013, I was a Fellow at the Kalamazoo River Institute of the Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources.
First person is the best way to get a fresh story on the ground. Assignments have carried me to many observatories and university laboratories and historical archives, and most NASA centers (Ames, Dryden, Glenn, Goddard, JPL, Johnson, Kennedy, and Langley). In personal travel, I've chased five total solar eclipses to remote parts of the world including into the Sahara Desert and the Arctic, spent five weeks trekking in the Himalaya up to Mount Everest base camp at 17,000 feet, and bicycled much of the 1,000-mile length of Baja California. The photograph in the banner at the top of this web page above shows me standing atop the 2.5-mile-long X-arm of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, Louisiana, while on assignment for Air & Space/Smithsonian. Other assignments (in images below) have taken me to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, NASA Dryden (inside still-incomplete SOFIA), the Johnson Island archaeological dig near Sandusky, Ohio, LL Brashear optical labs in Pittsburgh, Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, and inside the 150-foot solar telescope at Mount Wilson Solar Observatory for the 2012 transit of Venus. Relevant to my 1913 flood research are two images, one of me seated overlooking Huffman Dam (one of the five innovative dry detention basins built in the Miami Valley north of Dayton, Ohio, for flood control) and the other of me standing before Lock 2 of the Ohio and Erie Canal through Akron, Ohio, a canal dynamited during the 1913 flood, summarily ending Ohio's canal era. (Also shown are two formal author photos, with and without the books I've written.) Editors: contact me for publication-quality high-resolution versions.
Hm-m, does any Antarctic expedition need a seasoned writer?
(Page updated June 9, 2015)