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.


Robin Marantz Henig, president


I've been a freelance writer for more than 30 years, ever since my first daughter was born (I have two daughters, both journalists). I've written 9 books about a variety of science topics, including aging, genetics, and reproductive technology, and I am a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. I was first elected to the NASW board in 1998 and am also a member of the Authors Guild and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. I also serve as a member of the board of advisors of SFARI, a publication of the Simons Foundation in NYC, and as co-director of the Science Journalism Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. As NASW President, I recuse myself from any decisions these organizations might make that affect NASW, and recuse myself from any NASW decisions affecting either organization.

I hope to focus my presidency on some of the ongoing projects the organization has mounted in the name of greater ethnic and gender diversity, both in our membership and in the science writing profession as a whole. This means two new initiatives: making NASW more welcoming to science writers from minority groups and figuring out how to have NASW serve as a resource and advocate for equal treatment for women in science writing. To that end, the board formed two new committees this year: the Diversity Committee and the Fairness Committee. It's noteworthy, by the way, that 2014 marks the first-ever slate of all-women NASW officers, and with those colleagues and an ever-enthusiastic board of directors, I’m looking forward to a really exciting and productive two years.

First elected to the board in 1998

Laura Helmuth, vice president

The Washington Post

The most important responsibility of the vice president, who also chairs the programs committee, is to organize the annual NASW workshops for the ScienceWriters conference. I hope to make the annual meeting as useful, productive, and convenient as possible for NASW members. I and the programs committee are planning to experiment with additional NASW events throughout the year and find other ways to serve members who are unable to attend ScienceWriters. I’ve been a board member and member of the programs committee for the past term. I have pushed for better representation of women and minorities in the science writing community, been an advocate for freelancers, and tried to demystify and improve the editor-freelancer relationship. I am the health, science and environment editor for The Washington Post. I was previously director of digital news at National Geographic in Washington, D.C., and before that the science and health editor for Slate magazine, the science editor at Smithsonian magazine, and an editor and writer for Science magazine’s news department and ScienceNOW. I have a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley, and went through the UC Santa Cruz science communication program. I have served on the board of the D.C. Science Writers Association and The Open Notebook and currently serve on the boards of and High Country News.

First elected to the board in 2012

Jill Adams, treasurer


I truly believe that one of the great benefits of NASW is sharing stories and strategies for success with other professional science writers. During my first term on the board, I tried to be a voice for science writers who want to take charge of their careers. Whether freelancers or staffers, all of us benefit from having information and resources at the ready via NASW-supported efforts. I’ve contributed to The Science Writers’ Handbook, The Open Notebook, and helped launch the contracts database The Fine Print. I will continue to support creative regional meetings organized by NASW members, often funded by Idea Grants. I’m in favor of efforts to promote international outreach efforts and, at home, to increase the welcoming nature of our community to science writers of all colors, creeds, and genders. A long-term freelancer, I write about health, medicine, and the environment for the Washington Post, Audubon, Nature, Ensia, and Entrepreneur. I’ve been a member of NASW since 2004 and have organized annual meeting workshops and served on the freelance, awards, and programs committees. I would welcome the chance to contribute even more to the future of this organization as a member of the executive board.

First elected to the board in 2012

Deborah Franklin, secretary


I’m a staff science editor and reporter for NPR, based in San Francisco. Over the years I’ve covered science and medicine up and down both coasts in print, online, and for public radio. I got my start 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. I’ve recently worked as a contributing editor (writer) at Scientific American and also have contributed regularly to the New York Times’ personal health column “The Consumer.” As a member of the NASW executive board I am excited about finding new ways to strengthen the ties and the sharing of skills and perspective among new and long-time science writers across media. I’m eager to help talented science writers in every region 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. Don’t be afraid to contact any member of the board if you have concerns or would like to get more involved but don’t know how. It’s not a cabal, it’s a community, and we need you. We’re all in this together.

First elected to the board in 2010

Board members-at-large

Robert Frederick

American Scientist

Journalist Robert Frederick primarily reports on physical sciences and economics, but will follow a good story wherever it leads. In doing so, he has reported on most sciences, health, policy, education and business. Working in multiple media, Frederick credits range from Science to NPR, Financial Times to PNAS, and he contributed a chapter on multimedia freelancing in the NASW-sponsored The Science Writers’ Handbook. His educational background includes a triple-A.B. from The University of Chicago in mathematics, philosophy, and statistics as well as a M.Sc. in applied and interdisciplinary mathematics from the University of Michigan. He previously held positions at Science and St. Louis Public Radio and is an alumnus of the AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellowship. His service to NASW includes running multiple sessions and workshops at annual meetings, previous participation on the programs committee, and currently serving on the NASW Finance and Audit committee as well as representing NASW to the Authors Coalition.

First elected to the board in 2014

Peggy Girshman

In Memoriam

It is with sadness that we share the loss of a very special woman, talented journalist, and active NASW board member, Peggy Girshman. She died suddenly on March 14, 2016. Peggy was the founding editor at Kaiser Health News, former executive editor of Congressional Quarterly, and had a number of roles at NPR, including deputy senior science editor and deputy national editor. Her award-winning work included a national Emmy, two Peabody awards, and an AAAS Science Journalism award. She had been a member of the NASW board for 10 years, first elected in 2006. Peggy could always be counted on to contribute to discussions with a mixture of passion, sincerity, and self-deprecating humor that built consensus, even if the opinion was a contrarian one. Read more and leave your memories of Peggy here.

Jeff Grabmeier

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 is a former co-chair of 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.

First elected to the board in 2010

Michael Lemonick

Climate Central

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.

First elected to the board in 2010

A'ndrea Messer

Penn State

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.

First elected to the board in 2012

Seth Mnookin


Seth Mnookin is Associate Director of MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing. His most recent book, The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy, won the NASW “Science in Society” Award in 2012 and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize. He is also the author of the 2006 New York Times bestseller Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top and 2004's Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media, which was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Since 2005, he has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including Smithsonian, New York, Wired, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Spin, Slate, and His essay about the cost of measles infections was including in the The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014, and he recently wrote about a family's discovery that their child was the first known case of a new genetic disorder for The New Yorker.

First elected to the board in 2014

Dave Mosher

Popular Science

Dave Mosher is a science and technology journalist and the online director for Popular Science, where he leads the editorial operation that is Prior to that, Mosher worked for or contributed to Wired, Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, National Geographic News, Discovery Channel,, and other outlets. His work has included writing news, chasing feature stories, hosting YouTube shows, launching websites, and babysitting astronauts. In NASW, you can find him participating in NASW's mentorship programs, pitching and participating in annual meeting sessions;, lurking the email listservs, and recruiting newcomers. Mosher lives in New York City with his wife and dog, and he currently chairs the NASW Internet Committee.

First elected to the board in 2014

Hillary Rosner


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.

First elected to the board in 2012

Jill Sakai

University of Wisconsin-Madison

As communications director of the UW–Madison Office of Sustainability, Jill Sakai writes, strategizes, edits, manages (both people and expectations), and occasionally digs through the trash. After training in research as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral scholar, she broke free from the lab bench with a AAAS Mass Media Fellowship at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She transitioned quickly from scientist to science writer and enjoyed walking at her doctoral commencement ceremony next to her key source for one of her first stories. She went on to spend seven years in UW–Madison’s University Communications office covering anthropology to zoology. She also works as a freelance medical writer specializing in oncology. She has a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UW–Madison, where she studied fish eyes and watched nerves grow. Jill is a member of the NASW program committee and co-chair of the PIO committee

First elected to the board in 2014

Brian Switek


Brian Switek has been enthralled by natural history ever since his first childhood encounter with museum-mounted dinosaur skeletons. In time, this passion led him down an unconventional path that culminated in a writing and science communication career. In addition to writing the National Geographic hosted-blog Laelaps, Brian is the host of Parallax Film's short video series Dinologue. He has also written two critically-claimed science books for adults (Written in Stone and My Beloved Brontosaurus), a special issue of National Geographic titled When Dinosaurs Ruled, and has just completed his first science book for children, Prehistoric Predators. His next book, due in early 2017, is all about the tales of life our skeletons can tell us. And as a freelancer, Brian has written about various aspects of natural history for outlets ranging from Nature to Slate and io9. Brian lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the heart of fossil country.

First elected to the board in 2014

Emily Willingham


Emily Willingham's work has appeared online at the New York Times, Slate, Wired, Forbes, Discover, and others and in print in Backpacker, Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine, and other local and regional publications. She and co-author Tara Haelle expect their book, The Informed Parent, to be published in Winter 2016 by Perigee Books/Penguin. She is a Forbes contributor and freelance writer and also blogs at Her writing career began in the 1980s when she landed an internship at Texas Monthly Magazine while completing a bachelor's degree in English. Since then, writing and journalism have been constants through a multitude of changes and experiences, including working in public information, earning a PhD in biological sciences and spending some time on the academic tenure track, serving as a science editor, and teaching everything from physics, chemistry, and biology to scientific writing at the college level. As a member of the NASW board, Emily hopes to focus on growing the diversity of NASW's membership and creating frameworks to ensure workplace fairness for science writers. She has been a grateful member of two groups that have received Idea Grants, one to create an online science magazine for women, Double X Science, and a second one to produce the Women in Science Writing Solutions Summit, held at MIT in June 2014. She is the 2014 recipient of the John Maddox Prize for standing up for science, a joint initiative of Nature and the Kohn Foundation. The prize rewards an individual who has faced difficulty and hostility in the course of promoting sound, evidence-based science on a matter of public interest.

First elected to the board in 2014

Other key NASW people

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.