Science writer Sabrina Imbler to visit UW as science journalist in residence

Sabrina Imbler to meet with student, faculty, participate in public panel

· Mar 26, 2023 Tweet

Ahmad Hamid/The Badger Herald

Science writer Sabrina Imbler will be visiting the University of Wisconsin to share their expertise with Madison’s next generation of scientists and communicators.

They will be at UW from March 29-31 as this semester’s Sharon Dunwoody Science Journalist in Residence, a program that allows professional communications to engage with students and faculty.

Imbler is a former New York Times science and health desk reporting fellow and contributor to The Atlantic. Now, they write for Defector, an employee-owned sports and culture website where Imbler covers creatures, and reports on everything from 70-year-old Albatross birds to monkeys getting high.

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Imbler recently published their second book “How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures.” Science writer for University Communications Elise Mahon describes the book as a collection of stories about ten sea creatures told through scientific accounts and Imbler’s personal allegories. 

For the last 37 years, the UW School of Journalism and Mass Communication and University Communications have hosted the Science Journalist in Residence, Mahon said.

Previously, the program has hosted nationally-renowned science communicators including Radiolab’s Latif Nasser and the Scientific American’s editor-in-chief Laura Helmuth.

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As the Science Journalist in Residence, Imbler will spend March 29-31 visiting Journalism and Life Science Communications classrooms to work with students in their field and engage with university researchers. Students from different backgrounds will be exposed to science journalism, learn about perspectives from diverse communicators and discover the important connection between science and media. 

Imbler will also participate in a public panel “Wonder, Weirdness and Writing about Animals,” according to Mahon. It will take place on Thursday, March 30, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the Bea Christensen Room of the Goodman Community Center. There is a virtual livestream option for individuals who can’t make it in person. 

The panelists will discuss why people care so much about animals, how to write about animals and the power of narrative writing in science journalism. Mahon said the panel will be filled with behind-the-scenes allegories and humorous conversation to match the style of these lively communicators. 

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Stacy Forster, a faculty member for the College of Journalism and Mass Communication with extensive experience in reporting and narrative writing, and Mary Magnuson, a graduate student of the Nelson Institute, will join Imbler on the panel.

Magnuson says she is looking forward to a panel focused on communication that emphasizes the wonder of science and the lessons that animals can teach us. 

“Lots of science writing that people think of is COVID journalism and environmental journalism,” Magnuson said. “All these are big, heavy topics, which are important to cover for a lot of reasons, but I love science writing done for the purpose of wonder.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect that Sabrina Imbler was a fellow for the New York Times’ science and health desk, not a science and health reporter for The Atlantic.


This article was published Mar 26, 2023 at 12:26 pm and last updated Mar 29, 2023 at 8:36 pm


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