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Meet Trailblazing Science Journalist Mariette DiChristina

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Posted on April 11, 2016 - 4:34pm

Written by Jena Sprau

Founded in 1845, Scientific American is the longest continuously published magazine in the United States. You may be familiar with Scientific American, or SCIAM as it’s commonly known, but are you familiar with the name Mariette DiChristina?

As the eighth Editor-in-Chief of SCIAM, and the first woman to hold the position in 170 years, she is a true science enthusiast and journalist with more than 20 years of experience.1 She is also the Origins Project’s esteemed guest at the upcoming Trailblazing for Science: An Evening with Mariette DiChristina. We invite you to meet and learn more about Mariette and a few of her lifelong passions: science, journalism, and how the two intersect. 

DiChristina has long-loved all things science
As a young student, DiChristina enjoyed learning how things worked. She purchased science books instead of dolls and was more interested in the orbital periods of planets than baseball statistics.2 Deciding that she wasn’t willing to pick just one scientific discipline to study and focus on, she chose a career in journalism, which allowed her variety and the ability to write and share stories about the topics she loved. 

DiChristina owes some of her career success to the Hubble Space Telescope
As an Associate Editor at Scientific American, ever keen on space and struggling to prove her own worth, DiChristina was selected to write a story on the Hubble Space Telescope and its near-sightedness, as she phrases it. Writing about the telescope’s mission to correct this near-sightedness, DiChristina says, “proved beyond any reasonable doubt that I could cover any kind of story.”

DiChristina knows how to get scientists to write for the public
She admits that when scientists write for Scientific American, often times the articles seem as though they belong in scientific journals. And who can blame them? That’s how scientists are trained to write. When authoring a story in SCIAM, however, DiChristina encourages scientists to give the public what they need: story and narrative.2 For example, she invites scientists to share not only the results they arrived at, but why they wanted to arrive at an answer.

DiChristina is passionate about supporting the next generation of scientists
As she states, “A love of science begins at an early age.” Through various efforts like Bring Science Home, a series of family science activities published by Scientific American geared towards fostering children’s interest in science, DiChristina is able to bring science learning and access to the masses. SCIAM also partners with the Google Science Fair to sponsor the Scientific American Innovator Award, which gives funding and a year’s worth of mentoring to a deserving science entrepreneur, like 2014’s winner Kenneth Shinozuka, who created a sensor to inform caregivers when an Alzheimer’s patient is wandering.

DiChristina has advice to any young person, scientist or not: Make sure you do something you love. 

Learn more about trailblazing science journalist Mariette DiChristina at our upcoming Origins Project Dialogue on Friday, April 22 at Herberger Theater Center.