Meet new member Richard Pallardy

Richard Pallardy, a Chicago-based freelancer and a new addition to the NASW community, shares #WhySciWri in this short Q&A.

A headshot of Richard Pallardy

Richard Pallardy

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I'm a generalist writer with a special interest in biology ... plants, animals, evolution. I am currently freelancing after seven years as an editor for Encyclopedia Britannica, where I wrote, fact-checked, and edited articles on a range of topics. I've written about everything from the genetic origins of melanism to the story of the Kankakee mallow, a rare Illinois native plant found only on one island in the Kankakee River.

Q: How did you get interested in science writing?

A: I grew up in a science-inclined household. My mother was a high school biology teacher and later a childhood science educator. My father has a degree in microbiology. We were always outside, looking for critters, identifying plants, and just digging around in the dirt.

Writing and reading have always been major passions of mine as well. I love interviewing people who are enthusiastic about their areas of expertise. Digging into their research in order to devise intelligent questions is always a productive learning experience. Writing about science seemed like a natural progression of these interests. Not only is it fun, but it's also gratifying to communicate this information to a lay audience who might not otherwise be exposed to it. How can we expect people to care about our environment and its non-human inhabitants if we don't explain how important they are in an enjoyable, educational manner?

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A: I'm working on a couple of pieces concerning new research on the little-known New Guinea highland wild dog. I'm also shopping around a pitch on eavesdropping in the animal kingdom. Spy games, with fur, fins, and feathers!

Q: What's the website you visit most often for work?

A: I couldn't possibly narrow it down to just one. I really love long-form, deep dive science journalism. National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and the like. I think Hakai Magazine does great work on ocean-related topics.

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

A: I am utterly fascinated by invasive species and have written about a number of them. I always love learning about the more obscure ones and how they impact the environments they colonize. Adventive species are also really neat ... I just wrote a piece on how coyotes are moving back into cities.

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

A: I love the solitude of writing and researching, but sending your cherished ideas out into the void and only rarely getting a response can be an unpleasantly isolating experience. I am keen on talking to other writers about craft and logistics. I'm looking for opportunities to write about the animals and plants that I love ... I prefer to dig in and pillage the literature for fascinating facts and insights, but am also happy to write about more discrete breaking news stories as well. It would be great to build some relationships with editors and have some regular back and forth. I also enjoy editing work and am very open to learning about new ways to deploy my skill set.

Follow Richard on Twitter @RTPallardy.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Aug. 18, 2020

Leon Levy Center for Biography fellows

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