Public health journalist Maryn McKenna will be UF’s fall 2015 Science Journalist in Residence

November 13, 2015
Joe Kays

Maryn McKenna -- TED speaker, National Geographic contributor and author of “Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA” and “Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service” -- will be UF’s fall 2015 Science Journalist in Residence.

McKenna will be on campus the week of Nov. 16-20 to share her experiences with journalism students and meet with UF faculty researchers. She will also speak on “The Impotence of Antibiotics” at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at 6 p.m. Nov. 19. Among the topics the talk will explore are global health, emerging infections, antibiotic resistance and food-borne illnesses.

The event is free and open to the public.

McKenna is currently a contributor to National Geographic’s science site Phenomena, and was a founding blogger at the magazine’s award-winning science site The Plate. She was formerly a contributing writer at WIRED and a contributing editor at Scientific American and has also written for Slate, The Atlantic and Nature, among other publications. Her 2015 TED Talk, "What do we do when antibiotics don't work anymore?" has been viewed more than a million times. She is finishing a book on the history of antibiotic in agriculture, to be published next year by National Geographic Books.

As a newspaper reporter, she worked for 10 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she was the only U.S. journalist assigned to full-time coverage of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She reported from the Indian Ocean tsunami and from Hurricane Katrina, as well as from Southeast Asia, India, Africa and the Arctic, and embedded with CDC teams on Capitol Hill during the 2001 anthrax attacks and with a World Health Organization polio-eradication team in India.

Previously, she worked for the Boston Herald, where stories she co-wrote on illnesses among veterans of the first Persian Gulf War led to the first Congressional hearings on Gulf War Syndrome, and at the Cincinnati Enquirer, where her stories on the association between local cancer clusters and contamination escaping a federal nuclear weapons plant contributed to a successful nuclear-harm lawsuit by residents.

“I look forward to meeting students who may be interested in exploring possible careers in science writing,” McKenna said. “In addition, UF's location in one of the key food production centers in the U.S. makes it an especially fertile place to explore my core interests. I look forward to speaking with science and agriculture faculty, and I am keenly interested in the work being done at UF's Emerging Pathogens Institute.”

Diane McFarlin, dean of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, said McKenna’s visit provides an opportunity for UF students to deepen their knowledge of science journalism by interacting with one of its most captivating practitioners.

“We are excited to hear Maryn’s stories from the front lines of science journalism and her take on our modern food and medicine culture,” McFarlin said.

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