Meet new member Jessie Hendricks

Jessie Hendricks, a student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Graduate Program in Science Writing and a new addition to the NASW community, shares #WhySciWri in this short Q&A.

A photo of Jessie Hendricks

Jessie Hendricks

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I’m currently working towards my master’s degree from MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing. I have a background in digital video, but this past year I’ve written on topics ranging from Antarctic dinosaurs and Australian volcanos to honeybee sex! I’m also scripting podcasts for MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative and taking documentary and playwriting courses, in addition to the core writing curriculum.

Q: How did you get interested in science writing?

A: I realized while I was writing my undergraduate thesis on harmful algal blooms that I was more interested in communicating how the science was done and the implications of the research in a relatable way than formally publishing in a scientific journal (my degree was in natural sciences). After college, I ended up creating a couple of series of science outreach videos with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and really enjoyed the process, so I started creating my own science videos on the YouTube Channel Everyday Science. I really loved doing science research, but I found that I loved getting to learn about all the science research even more and sharing what I’d learned in the process.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A: Most days when I’m not in class or working on other writing assignments, I’m working on my thesis project, which is a collection of pieces on optical clocks, including the history of timekeeping, the redefinition of the second using atomic time, and using the clocks to test fundamental concepts of physics, like relativity.

Q: What's the website you visit most often for work? Or, how about your favorite social media account that you follow?

A: I don’t think I can pick just one! My Twitter feed is curated with a ton of amazing science communicators like @ologies, @polycrystalhd, @teagwall, @raquelnuno, @corvidresearch, @astrokatie, @SarahMackAttack, @thephysicsgirl, @amberldance and so many more!

Q: If you could write about any scientific event/breakthrough/topic (past, present, or future) what would it be and why?

A: I’d love to finish writing a musical I started before MIT about the 19th century mathematician and writer Ada Lovelace, considered by some to be the first computer programmer. Her story has it all: conflict, discovery, comedy, tragedy, and a female lead! I grew up idolizing a lot of the usual players—Galileo, Einstein, Feynman—all of whom are incredible scientists. But I’m really loving learning more about the amazing untold accomplishments of women in science throughout history. I didn’t learn a ton about them growing up, so I’d love to be part of the revolution in telling their stories.

Q: Why did you join NASW and what kinds of professional connections/ opportunities are you seeking?

A: I joined my first science writing group, SoCal Science Writers, a couple of years back and found it to be full of incredibly welcoming, inspiring, and talented people. They first introduced me to the wider NASW science writing community and I finally decided to take the leap and join the fun this year! I’m interested in continuing to write and produce for film, television, and theater, but I’m also just excited to meet new people and hear or read their stories.

Follow Jessie on Twitter @jessiescience

Feb. 16, 2020

AIP Science Communications Awards