Meet new member Sushma Subramanian

Sushma Subramanian, a journalism professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and a freelance science writer, shares #WhySciWri in this short Q&A.

A head shot of Sushma Subramanian

Sushma Subramanian

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I’m a journalism professor at the University of Mary Washington and a freelance science writer. My writing has appeared in publications like Discover, Foreign Policy, New York Magazine, and Slate. I don’t have a beat, but I am mostly doing longer magazine features these days, often in places that are far away because for some reason I’m not good at coming up with ideas that are local. I’m also the president of the D.C. Science Writers Association.

Q: How did you get interested in science writing?

A: I decided in high school that I wanted to be a journalist. While science writing was the first thing I thought of (we were Scientific American subscribers), I spent a long time talking myself out of it because it seemed like most jobs were business and politics-oriented. Eventually, sometime in my 20s, I stopped second-guessing myself.

Q:What are you working on at the moment?

A: I’m just finishing up my first book, which is about the sense of touch—what it is and how it works and how conflicted our relationship with it is, especially as we experience more of our world digitally, through vision. It’s taken me years because my teaching job takes up most of my time, so I’m thrilled to be at this point.

Q: What's your favorite social media account that you follow?

A: Most of my favorites are pretty silly. So I’ll go with my favorite science Twitter account, which is science writer Ferris Jabr’s. I like his long poetic threads about scientific processes—how plants and animals regulate the planet, what the markings left on beach sand can tell us. On a platform that’s all about scrolling fast, he makes me stop and think.

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

A: I’m fascinated by reproductive technology—past, present and future. It’s a field that’s changing our definition of family, so it’s interesting to look at how it intersects with law and ethics.

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

A: I’m already very involved in my regional group, so joining NASW felt like an obvious next step. I’m hoping to get to know like-minded writers for support, guidance, and commiseration.

Follow Sushma on Twitter @sushmaaaaaaaa

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