This week on Virtually Speaking Science, my guest was Dr. Emily Willingham. Emily received both her BA and PhD at the University of Texas, Austin; the former was in English and the latter in Biological Sciences.1 Her dissertation was on the effects of atrazine and temperature on the sex development of red slider turtles; she went on to do a fellowship in pediatric urology at University of California, San Francisco.
On academic achievement alone, Emily is impressive, but she didn’t forget her English background when she wandered into science. Instead, she has written for Scientific American, The Scientist, The New York Times, Slate, and Discover; has a regular column at Forbes called The Science Consumer; and is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of DoubleX Science. She was a Shorty Award finalist in 2013, as well as being selected for the Open Lab 2013 best in science writing online anthology. She has been blurbed by Steve Silberman and Ed Yong, and even has her own Wikipedia page.
Basically, she is shiny.
Emily sat down to talk with me about her multidisciplinary background, writing books at a precociously young age, and the Women in Science Writing Solutions Summit that was held at MIT last weekend. As you can imagine, we managed to fit a lot into the hour, and it was a fun show. Give it a listen! Below, you’ll find links to the papers, panels, and people we discussed.2
Something I learned about when researching Emily in preparation for the interview was that, long before Ed Yong was talking about zombie parasites, Emily had written about zombie grasshoppers. Or, as I prefer to think of them, creepy worm terrorist zombie hijackers.
We spent a good amount of time discussing the results of a survey distributed across several professional writing communities. You can download and review the slides and data at this link.
Towards the end of the show, Emily and I started to talk about the stresses of being a feminist online, and, in particular, how it’s really necessary to know how to take care of yourself. We both referenced spoon theory (saying make sure you have your spoons); if you’re not familiar with that concept, here’s the essay that started it all.