By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Rhys
In February, a science journalist named Eric Boodman came to talk to Division 1 Humanities students about his work. Boodman recently received an award from the American Society of Magazine Editors for his writing, and he currently works at STAT, Boston Globe Media's science magazine. After only being at the magazine for a year and a half, Boodman has a lot of experience to share with the students. Before his visit, we read an article of his about a civil scientist named Hugh Brown outside of Austin, Texas, who catches kissing bugs to learn about the disease that they spread. When he described going to meet Brown, Boodman said that “He’s given me this address that isn’t in a town,” and that this is kind of adventure “not usually part of my work day.” He spent one night interviewing Brown, and during that time he was able to witness the protocol for catching bugs. He also found out a lot about Brown as a person, including his personal beliefs and somewhat eccentric lifestyle. During his visit to the school, Boodman mentioned that would have been glad to talk to Brown “all night.”
Boodman also talked a lot about making science understandable for the common reader, a question that has been very important to Division 1 as we prepare to interview scientists and write profile articles about them and their work. In MST, for example, we read some scientific papers, and wondered how a journalist would be able to understand its language, and then translate the scientific descriptions into more commonly used English. Discussing his own strategies for explaining science to readers, Boodman said his solution is “judicious use of metaphor.”
When he first went into college, Boodman expected to write fiction, but after taking a science journalism course in college, he decided to pursue that. He still loves writing fiction, and continues to do that in his free time. Boodman also plays the American fiddle at music and dancing sessions.
Division 1 students have described the visit as an amazing and interesting experience. While we won’t be talking to an eccentric citizen scientist in Texas, I’m sure we’ll be able to use Boodman’s experience and wisdom when we write our own science profiles in the coming weeks.