My background in chemistry and bioethics gives me a unique perspective on science, technology, and medicine and has influenced both my non-fiction and fiction projects. In many ways I serve as a translator. Scientists have a precise language, and each field of science has its own dialect. Bioethics, on the other hand, is multidisciplinary and requires clear, unambiguous language for a broad audience. Learning how to convert from one writing style (and way of thinking) to another was an experience whose value is more than the sum of the degrees alone.
So much of my writing is teaching, not just teaching facts (e.g., what is an embryoid? a stem cell? CRISPR?) but how to think through the implications of cutting-edge technologies. Often these technologies have implications for the edges of life, or as one of the founders of the bioethics center I work with quipped, bioethics addresses making life, taking life, and faking life.
After graduating with an MS in chemistry in 2006, I was not going to go back to school, but several years later, I crossed over to the dark side (the humanities) and eventually earned an MA in bioethics. If you look at my resume, you’ll see that I was the recipient of scholarships, graduated magna cum laude, etc. It’s all very impressive on paper and framed degrees look good on the wall. But making A’s in class and writing a serviceable thesis does not compare to the lessons I learned while going through cancer.
I completed my bioethics degree in 2013, but my practicum would not happen until 2020, when I was diagnosed with appendix cancer, a rare disease with no known cause. It can be deadly, or it can be treatable. It can recur, or it can never come back. It all depends on the sub-type. Audrey Hepburn had this cancer and died of it in the 1990s before they had the treatments that they do today. I was diagnosed in March 2020 and went through treatment in the midst of the pandemic. It meant appointments by myself and hospital stays without visitors; even my husband and parents weren’t allowed to visit. It meant chemo side effects that I didn’t understand (Why do these eggs taste so terrible? Why is my vision so blurry? Why are my toes and fingers so sensitive to hot and cold?), and only seeing friends and family outdoors and with verbal hugs.
There is no diploma on the wall for graduating from cancer, and I don’t have it on my CV. Yet I learned more about the interplay between medicine, technology, faith, and community in 2020 than from any class, book, or interview. I learned firsthand what it was to sit on the other side of the table, to be the one flirting with the edges of life. It changed me as a writer, and it changed my writing.
Below is a summary of work I’ve done as a science writer as well as my educational background and organization memberships. For a complete list of publications, see my Publications page.
- Journalistic Writing: Research-based articles on the nexus of chemistry and bioethics (see here for a publication list)
- Medical Writing: Freelance writing for medical organizations, universities, and non-profit organizations
- Copyediting and project management: Copy edited proceedings from conferences, website content, technical books and textbooks, and translated materials
- Curriculum Writing: Online classes for high school, undergrad, and graduate level; written and led online bioethics workshops that were for CME credit; written semester curriculum for the church setting
- News Curator & Research Analyst: Updating The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity’s news source web site, bioethics.com, and contributing analyses of science topics in the news
- Teacher and Speaker: Taught SAT/ACT prep classes; interviewed for national radio and podcasts, and have presented on science and bioethics topics at various conferences in both the public and church setting
- M.A. in Bioethics, magna cum laude, May, 2013, Trinity International University, Deerfield, Illinois
Capstone Topic: Performance Enhancement in Sports
Recipient of the Harold O.J. Brown Scholarship
- M.S. in Chemistry, University of Texas at Dallas, May, 2006, Richardson, Texas
Emphasis in organic synthesis and materials
- B.S. in Chemistry, minor in government and politics, magna cum laude, May, 2003, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas
Recipient of the UTD Academic Scholarship with Distinction