NASW officers, executive board and staff
Curious about the roles of board members, terms, elections and other details or want to run for the board? Read more here.
Elections occur in even years, prior to the fall annual meeting.
Ron Winslow, president
Wall Street Journal
I've been a reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal for 26 years, the last 20 covering health and medicine. I'm currently deputy bureau chief of the health and science group, a role in which I both cover and help shape our coverage of medicine, the pharmaceutical and device industries and the health-care system.
My main coverage responsibilities include biotechnology, cardiology and oncology. During my initial years on the health beat, I focused on health policy and health economics. Prior to that, I covered the electric utility and nuclear power industries, spent a brief stint as a technology columnist and served as science and technology editor on our national news desk.
Earlier in my career, I taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire, my alma mater. I started my newspaper career at the Providence (R.I.) Journal. I am the author of Hard Aground, the Story of the Argo Merchant Oil Spill; co-author of Open and Shut (a true crime story) and was a co-writer of NOVA, the book published in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the PBS science program.
I was a founding board member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. I joined NASW in 1990.
Robin Marantz Henig
Robin Marantz Henig, vice president
After serving on the NASW board for 12 years (1998-2010), I’m eager to return to the organization as VP. Science writing is at a crossroads, and we need to figure out how journalists can make their mark in a bloggy world. The grievance committee work I began with Dan Ferber and Ellen Ruppel Shell is even more urgent now. I’d like to re-establish the committee to provide writers the ammunition and clout they need to avoid problems before they arise. I’d also like to focus on communicating science beyond traditional print and broadcasting by reinstituting the Science Cabaret and by building relationships with art-meets- science events already going on around the country, such as festivals, science cafes, and the Imagination Film Festival. I’ve been a freelance for more than 30 years, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine for the past seven, and I just finished my ninth book Twentysomething, co-authored with my younger daughter Samantha Henig (the co-authorship was the best part). My previous book, Pandora’s Baby, won NASW’s Science in Society Award and ASJA’s Best Book Award. In 2009, I received an ASJA Career Achievement Award and a Guggenheim fellowship.
Beryl Lieff Benderly
Beryl Lieff Benderly, treasurer
Freelance journalist Beryl Lieff Benderly has won eight national writing awards for articles on cancer, genetics, biomedical engineering, science labor force, electronic medical records, psychology and more, as well as numerous study fellowships. She writes the monthly “Taken for Granted” column for the Science magazine website, is a contributing editor of Prism magazine, and contributes articles to other publications including Scientific American, Slate, Columbia Journalism Review, and many others. Elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she is the author or co-author of seven trade books, including the classic Dancing without music: Deafness in America, which has been in print since 1980, and of a novel for young readers. A winner of the Diane McGurgan Award, she has taught science and health writing at the University of Maryland and in Latin America and serves as NASW's liaison to the Authors Coalition of America and on the Coalition's distribution committee.
Deborah Franklin, secretary
Independent writer and editor Deborah Franklin is based in San Francisco, but has lived and covered science and medicine up and down both coasts in print, online, and public radio. She started out in magazines, first interning at Science News, then working as a staff writer and/or editor at Science News, Science ‘86, Hippocrates, Health, and Fortune magazines. She’s a contributing editor (writer) at Scientific American and also has contributed regularly over the years to the New York Times’ personal health column “The Consumer.” She has freelanced feature stories for numerous magazines, including the New York Times Magazine, Discover, and Smithsonian. Since 2006, she has spent much of every year working for National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., as a correspondent, editor, and blogger on NPR’s Science Desk. Franklin is particularly interested in strengthening the ties and the sharing of skills and perspective between new and long-time science writers across media. As a new member of the Executive Board, she hopes to continue to help talented local science writers connect to national and international networks and audiences, and to help ensure that any member or regional group with creative energy and a great idea gets the nurturance and support needed to thrive. We’re all in this together.
With an ever-shifting media landscape, science writers must work ever harder to justify what it is we do. I think one of the great benefits of our organization is the opportunity to share stories and strategies for success. I want to shepherd burgeoning efforts at community building within NASW. Many of my closest science writer friends are people I first met at annual meetings, including the members of Scilance, an online group of freelance science writers now working on an NASW grant-supported book about science writing in the new era. I’m inspired by some of the creative regional meetings members have organized, often with grant help from NASW. I’d like to further promote smaller group ventures because I think they’re crucial for individuals, but I also think they inspire loyalty to the larger organization. A long-term freelancer, I write about health, medicine, and the environment for the Los Angeles Times, WebMD, Nature, Discover, and Plenty. I’ve been a member of NASW since 2004 and have organized workshops and served on committees, including the freelance, awards, and annual meeting committees.
Medscape Medical News
Bob Finn (Medscape Medical News) is serving his fifth term on the board. He spent most of his previous terms as chair of the Science in Society Award committee, but he's now turning his attention to the membership committee where he hopes to address some of NASW’s membership challenges. A recent analysis revealed that many new members never renew for a second year, but new members who renew once are likely to stay members for years. Bob thinks some relatively simple tactics will encourage new members to renew. Also, he observes that there are whole areas of science writing from which NASW derives very few members. For example, NASW is under-represented among technology writers, and association also incudes relatively few professional scientists who write about science for the general public. Bob thinks we can find ways to convince those groups that NASW has something to offer.
Kaiser Health News
Peggy Girshman is an executive editor at Kaiser Health News, a non-profit news service covering the practice of medicine, health care policy, health financing and the politics of health care reform. Previously, she was an Executive Editor at Congressional Quarterly. She held a number of jobs at National Public Radio, including deputy senior science editor, deputy national editor, assistant managing editor and, was also one of several managing editors. She served as senior medical producer at Dateline NBC, senior producer at the PBS programs Scientific American Frontiers and Against All Odds: Inside Statistics. She has also worked at local television stations in Washington, D.C., and helped launch a start-up that eventually became New York Times television.
Ohio State University
Jeff Grabmeier is director of research communications at Ohio State University, where he has worked since 1985. At Ohio State, Jeff is the principal writer covering research in the social sciences, business and humanities. He has three times won the top award for “Research, Medicine and Science Writing” from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Jeff co-chairs the Education Committee of the National Association of Science Writers, and is a past columnist for the association’s newsletter ScienceWriters. In addition, he is the recipient of the Diane McGurgan award for service to NASW. He has done freelance writing for several consumer and college magazines and has written chapters for the books “Soul of the Sky” and “Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Family and Personal Relationships.” In 2009, Jeff was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Before coming to Ohio State, Jeff was a reporter for the Gallipolis Daily Tribune and the Columbus Citizen-Journal. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University and an M.A. in political science from Ohio State.
Laura Helmuth is a new member of the NASW board, elected in 2012. She is the science and health editor for Slate magazine. (Do you have a freelance story to propose for Slate? Get in touch.) She was the science editor for Smithsonian magazine for eight years, and before that she was a writer and editor for Science magazine’s news department. She served for three years on the D.C. Science Writers Association board and is on the board of advisers for The Open Notebook. She has a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California at Berkeley and attended the U.C. Santa Cruz science communication program.
Michael D. Lemonick is the senior writer at Climate Central, a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting nonpartisan science-based information about climate change to policymakers and the general public. Prior to joining Climate Central, he spent nearly 21 years at TIME Magazine, where he wrote more than 50 cover stories on topics ranging from climate change to genomics to particle physics before stepping down as a Senior Science Writer in early 2007. He remains a Contributing Writer at TIME, and also continues to freelance for Discover, Scientific American, National Geographic, Yale E360 and Newsweek and other magazines. Lemonick is the author of four popular books on astronomy, and is working on his fifth, on the search for Earthlike exoplanets. He has taught science and environmental writing at Princeton, Columbia, Johns Hopkins and New York Universities. His professional honors include two AAAS-Westinghouse awards for magazine writing; the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, and the Overseas Press Club's Whitney Bassow Award for International Environmental Reporting. He holds an A.B. in Economics from Harvard College and an M.S. in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
I believe the association needs strong representation from the public information membership. As assistant systems operator for the website I helped establish the website and two web redesigns. I have created NASW workshops and understand the importance of balancing all segments of the association — PIO, freelance, staff. I have seen the association grow and want to help sustain that growth and move NASW to the next level. I am the senior science and research information officer in Research Communications at Penn State. I was a science writer at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and worked at Bell Labs doing technical writing and on the “History of the Bell System.” In Israel, I edited 11 review journals in chemistry, book translations, and children’s book. I write about engineering, physical sciences, earth and mineral sciences, materials science, and anthropology. I have a B.A. in science & culture (chemistry) from Purdue University, an M.S. in journalism: science communication from Boston University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Penn State. I am a AAAS Fellow. I’m currently on the Internet and PIO committees and have served on the workshop committee.
Los Angeles Times
I started out with a Ph.D. in genetics and worked as a post-doc in a fruit-fly lab before deciding to switch to science writing. After completing the UC Santa Cruz science-writing program, I interned at the Dallas Morning News, then worked as a researcher/reporter for Discover magazine. Then I embarked on a semi-freelancing career (West Coast correspondent for New Scientist and a contributing editor for Health magazine, while writing articles for Natural History, Discover, Earth, and Science). I joined the L.A. Times as a staff writer in 1998, writing first for the health section and then reporting on science and medicine for the news section. I was deputy and then section editor for science and health for about seven years — and have recently returned to a mostly writing gig at the paper. As someone who’s freelanced, I know how hard that work can be, and I've always tried to make the experience of people who write for my newspaper as decent as possible. And as someone who's watched staff levels dwindle year after year at the L.A. Times, I have had a good taste of the challenges we face in our line of work. I want to continue to help our community.
Tabitha M. Powledge
Tabitha M. Powledge
Radical changes in markets for science writers dominate our work lives, especially the rise of Web-based publications and bloggery. That's why, a year ago, I started writing On ScIence Blogs This Week, a weekly mini-aggregation of selected blog posts of professional interest to science writers. It appears on the NASW home page every Friday. In the eight years I have been a Board member, NASW has become more activist and concerned about professional and business issues like electronic rights and contracts, plagiarism, and the ethics of the new, Web-based journalism. For seven years before I joined the Board, I wrote about such changes in the ScienceWriters column "The Free Lance." I am also a long-time member of the freelance and Internet committees.
I was founding editor of The Scientist and an editor at what is now Nature Biotechnology. A full-time freelance since 1990, I have written for paper publications that include Scientific American, Popular Science, Health magazine, PLOS Biology, The Scientist, Washington Post, BioScience, and The Lancet. My book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Microbiology came out in 2007, and I am working far too slowly on a second edition of my 1994 book Your Brain: How You Got It and How It Works. Like many freelances, I write more and more for Web publications, including SciAm, The Scientist, Salon.com, and the late HMS Beagle/BioMedNet.com. For the past three years I have also contributed to the technology blog Popgadget.net. I do freelance editing too, mostly for the National Academy of Science's public policy magazine, Issues in Science and Technology.
I’m a freelance science journalist specializing in the environment, and a 2012 Alicia Patterson Fellow. In 2011, I was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, and won a AAAS Kavli Science Journalism award for a story about valiant efforts to save an endangered Colorado River fish. My reporting has taken me around the world, from the Canadian Rockies to Borneo, Iceland to Ethiopia. Over the years, I’ve been a staff writer, an editor, and a full- time freelancer. I write for the New York Times, Wired, National Geographic, Popular Science, Mother Jones, Audubon, OnEarth, High Country News, and many other outlets, and I blog at the PLoS Blogs Network. Over the past several years, I’ve organized panels and workshops for NASW, SEJ, and Science Online. I’m interested in improving science communication broadly, and I’ve led many workshops for scientists on how to present their work and ideas to the media and the public. At a time when nearly half of NASW’s members identify themselves as freelancers, I think it’s crucial to understand freelancers’ unique needs and concerns: financial, technological, psychological. As someone who has successfully navigated that world for more than a decade, as it’s shifted (okay, quaked) beneath our feet, I am ready to contribute to NASW’s leadership.
M. Mitchell Waldrop is currently a features editor at Nature magazine. He earned a Ph.D. in elementary particle physics at the University of Wisconsin in 1975, and a Master's in journalism at Wisconsin in 1977. From 1977 to 1980 he was a writer and West Coast bureau chief for Chemical and Engineering News. From 1980 to 1991 he was a senior writer at Science magazine, where he covered physics, space, astronomy, computer science, artificial intelligence, molecular biology, psychology, and neuroscience. He was a freelance writer from 1991 to 2003 and from 2007 to 2008; in between he worked in media affairs for the National Science Foundation from 2003 to 2006. He is the author of Man-Made Minds (Walker, 1987), a book about artificial intelligence; Complexity (Simon & Schuster, 1992), a book about the Santa Fe Institute and the new sciences of complexity; and The Dream Machine (Viking, 2001), a book about the history of computing. In his spare time he is an avid cyclist. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Amy E. Friedlander.
Other key NASW personnel
Tinsley Davis, executive director
Organizer, NASW ScienceWriters annual meeting
P.O. Box 7905
Berkeley, CA 94707
Phone: (510) 647-9500
Lynne Friedmann, editor
P.O. Box 1725
Solana Beach, CA 92075
Phone: (858) 793-3537
Fax: (858) 345-3925
Russell Clemings, cybrarian
A'ndrea Elyse Messer, assistant cybrarian
National Association of Science Writers
The cybrarian is NASW's Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) agent.