October 1, 2003 - UW Badger Herald: Borneo RPCV Sandra Blakeslee is award-winning science writer for the New York Times

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malaysia: Peace Corps Malaysia : The Peace Corps in Malaysia: October 1, 2003 - UW Badger Herald: Borneo RPCV Sandra Blakeslee is award-winning science writer for the New York Times

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Borneo RPCV Sandra Blakeslee is award-winning science writer for the New York Times

Borneo RPCV Sandra Blakeslee is award-winning science writer for the New York Times

UW resident science writer spends week lecturing

by John Liesveld, News reporter
October 01, 2003

When pioneer of science journalism Howard Blakeslee wrote, "Test tube babies are about as conceivable as a rocket trip to the moon," he probably never imagined that more than 60 years later his words would come under the admirable scrutiny of his granddaughter, Sandra.

That is precisely what happened Tuesday night in the Beefeater lounge, at Memorial Union, where award-winning science writer for the New York Times Sandra Blakeslee gave a public lecture.

Blakeslee spoke about the "Zeitgeist of Science Writing" in the 20th century. Science writing, Blakeslee explains, has been governed by several paradigms through history. It's had significant effects on how individuals view the world, effects not always free of ignorance.

"Oh my God! How could they have believed that?" Blakeslee asked, alluding to the article her grandfather wrote.

While Sandra was sometimes critical of her grandfather's work, she has also showed respect, agreeing with him of the importance of understanding science.

"Society is chronically confused about nature versus nurture," she argues.

She says, for journalists, it is doubly important to have an intuition about the information scientists reveal. She explains that science writing is often overwhelming -- a struggle to stay on top of legitimate science.

Starting with her grandfather, Sandra Blakeslee came from what could be described as a science-writing dynasty. Howard, born in the 1880s, joined the Associated Press in 1901. Later he decided there needed to be a science-writing field. He took the initiative and became the first official science writer in the U.S. Her father, who wrote during WWII was the next to venture into science writing.

Sandra, born in 1943, never had any intention of becoming a science writer. She said after her undergraduate work at University of California-Berkley, majoring in political science, that she "tromped" around the world. She joined the Peace Corps and was sent to be a schoolteacher in Borneo.

Eventually she was hired as an assistant to a bureau chief at the United Nations and later as a science writer for the New York Times.

Blakeslee is also the co-author of several books, specializing in the neurosciences. Currently, she is working with Jeff Hawkins, inventor of the palm pilot, on a book about the brain.

Amid the group of about 30 people who attended Blakeslee's lecture was her brother, Dennis Blakeslee, a retired science writer who lives in Madison.

As part of a UW program, Blakeslee is the Fall 2003 Science Writer in Residence. The program, funded by the UW Foundation, provides resources to bring students into close contact with science journalists. It also helps to exposes faculty, staff, students and the community to research that is otherwise unavailable.

Hunter Tjugum, a first year journalism grad student, was also at the lecture. Tjugum says the UW spends "a lot of time and effort" bringing such esteemed individuals to campus for the benefit of students. And Tjugum said he was appreciative of the UW Foundation's program.

Blakeslee will be in Madison for one week with a frenzied schedule of guest lecturing, luncheons and public presentations.

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Story Source: UW Badger Herald

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Malaysia; Journalism; Science



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