I’m a published author and nonfiction writer who lives in a mountain cove nestled in the Great Craggy Mountains of western North Carolina. I’m a member of the The Author’s Guild, the International League of Conservation Writers, and the National Association of Science Writers. I hold a Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Ecology.
In 2019, I began working under contract for the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. The EPI was founded in 2006 to study and understand new and emerging pathogens that affect people, plants and animals globally — with a special focus on what may arrive to Florida. From arboviruses and new strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, to lethal bronzing and laurel wilt which are killing trees, I write about their faculty's research projects and communicate the institute's work to the general public.
My work has appeared in many publications, including: Charlotte Observer’s Sci-Tech pages, Scientific American, Science Now, Slate, OnEarth, EARTH magazine, Orlando Sentinel, the Loh Down on Science radio program and Wildlife in North Carolina — among others. I have written for several higher-education research entities including Clemson Univeristy, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and Northwestern University. I have also been a staff science writer for two different scientific research institutions at the University of Florida.
In June 2013, my book The Secret World of Red Wolves was released by the University of North Carolina Press (UNC Press). It's the first complete telling of the endangered red wolf's story written for general audiences. Although controversy continues to roil in Red Wolf Country, my book has received 5-star praise from readers for being accurate, entertaining, exhaustively researched, and largely unbiased. The paperback edition was released in summer 2015.
My path to science writing
It was my life-long love for wild nature that led me to explore the world of science. As a child, I trolled for redfish in the Gulf of Mexico with my parents. In winter, we slogged across mudflats in the freezing dawn for stone crabs, and in fall we donned masks and snorkels and floated over shallow grass flats to scoop up scallops. On dry land, I explored our small backyard and developed an affinity for plants and animals.
In college, I started out as a general biology major but over the course of many semesters and two colleges, I flitted between physical anthropology, geology, art and architecture. After a few years of professional work as an architectural interior designer, I returned to graduate school with a single idea: to explore all my loves and interests through the lens of writing. Why choose just one field, when I have an entire lifetime to write about all?
I began writing about natural history and evolution as a graduate student, at the University of Florida, when I was hired as a staff science writer to cover breaking science news and on-going research at the Florida Museum of Natural History. My M.S.-track graduate studies blended education in natural resources management and ecology with training in journalism. My job with the museum taught me how to apply what I learned in class.
My work at the Florida Museum taught me invaluable lessons about breaking down primary research for general audiences and how to interview scientists. My job entailed roaming through 20 different research collections, sifting for interesting science stories that were published in a member edition of Natural History magazine or on their website. Frankly, I was amazed that the university paid me to shoot the breeze with esteemed paleontologists and archaeologists. I sniffed around and asked them questions about the piles of fossil fragments on their counters or their carefully labeled specimen baggies arranged in orderly rows.
I credit my time with the museum as being equally formative to my writing education as was my master's program. I thank Doug Jones and Paul Ramey for taking a chance on me, and Kim Walsh-Childers for taking me under her wing.