I grew up in Larchmont, N.Y., but my parents had an adventurous spirit, leading them to move the family to Ireland when I was a young teen. There I was forced to choose between the arts and sciences at the tender age of 15. And so I found myself immersed in the study of physics, chemistry, biology and math. By the time I arrived at Trinity College Dublin I was not even allowed to take an English literature course—and in the land of Yeats and Joyce!
After graduating, I planned on becoming a neuroscientist. But shortly before I was to begin a PhD program at NYU I landed what was supposed to be a brief job at a popular science magazine and realized I had found my calling. Despite having little background in the language arts, hanging out in Irish pubs had honed my skill as a storyteller and journalism allowed me to indulge my curiosity and insatiable wanderlust.
One of the great joys of writing about cutting-edge science is that it provides you access to worlds removed from most people’s experience. Over my career, I’ve flown in a blimp as part of an expedition to track the migratory patterns of manatees. I’ve donned surgical garb to observe trauma surgeons search through dozens of yards of a patient’s
intestine in a bid to stanch his hemorrhaging from a bullet wound. I've camped out in a remote corner of the Egyptian desert for the opportunity to see paleontologists unearth an extinct whale with wimpy feet. (Finding one of the toe bones of that 40-million-year-old whale was definitely a highlight of my profession.)
As a journalist focusing on the biological sciences, I’ve also been at the forefront of reporting on many momentous developments—a privilege that comes with profound responsibilities. The decoding of the human genome, the upsurge of data linking CO2 emissions to global environmental damage, the controversial rise of stem cell therapy—these are just a handful of the events I’ve endeavored to cover clearly, accurately and from divergent views.
Sometimes the challenge can seem overwhelming. After completing a four-part series on how the brain changes from birth to old age—a rush assignment, of course!—I thought my own brain might explode. But overall it's been a fascinating and exhilarating ride and I hope to continue it and my latest passion— teaching science to university students—for many years to come.