There's always a backstory to the story. The one I want to tell here is the one that introduces me to you and tells you why I am writing.

I remember the day in 1990 when the construction workers finished the wall. It was part of a new research building at Northwestern University, where I was finishing my doctorate in molecular biology. As I looked out of my laboratory window, now eclipsed by the formidable concrete next door, I cried. I'd lost my view of downtown Chicago. And the event became a metaphor for what the research lab was doing to my love of science.

I had to find another way.

I embarked on an odyssey, launched during my postdoc, when I studied the calcification of kids' replacement heart valves at Children's Memorial Hospital. I had searched outside of work for something to do, took some journalism classes at Columbia College, and stumbled upon a gig as a stringer for the Southtown Daily, a local newspaper. It planted the seed of a new passion. Writing.

I wrote about local tax bills and Veterans' Day parades. After a year, I won an American Association for the Advancement of Science Mass Media Fellowship, which placed me as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. I wrote about anything remotely related to science, from O.J. Simpson's DNA analysis to head injuries in sports to deer overpopulation in River Forest, Illinois. I loved finding the science in everyday things. And infusing the study into the story.

When I became a new mother in 1995 and left the paper and Chicago, I thought the dream had ended. I attended to family life in Cleveland, Ohio. But I couldn't shake the craving to write. So I picked up freelance work and thought of it as a stopgap to my next "real" job. But seven years passed. Freelancing fit me so well that I stayed with it through eight more years. I wrote for technical publications such as Science, Nature and Scientific American. In a quest for versatility, I also crafted stories for magazines such as Child, Health, Self and Yoga Journal.

In 2002, I earned a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT and Harvard, which brought me to Boston. That experience led to my first book, Lying in Weight: the Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders (Harper Collins, May 2007), contribution to a second book, Going Hungry, Writers on Desire, Self Denial and Overcoming Anorexia and a third, Body: the Complete Human, for National Geographic.

What have I learned? Lots. But for the purposes of this blog:

  • Science has grown so much more complicated and fewer writers can well communicate its nuances and excitement. 
  • Multimedia can help.
  • None of us should lose our passion. There is always a way to kindle the fire. 
  • Stories have to be interesting, or no one will want to read them.

I now write, produce multimedia and live with my daughter, 15, in Brookline, Massachusetts.

That's me. I'd love to hear more about you.

About the Author

Trisha Gura Ph.D.

Trisha Gura, Ph.D., is a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT/Harvard and a Resident Scholar at Brandeis University.

You are reading

The Synaptic Cafe

Seeing Is Researching

Curing blind children opens a window to brain development

Eating Disorders: A Fish Story

Slimming down means staying in line.

The Gene-ius Pool

Start with genes. Add traits. Sift in environment. Make genius.