A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a high-school dropout, I earned undergraduate degrees in physics and philosophy at the University of North Texas and a Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics from Michigan State University. While in graduate school, I founded Science Theatre, which uses stageplays to share science. Our group was recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science with their prestigious Award for Public Understanding of Science and with the Meggers Award by the American Institute of Physics.
I built a career as a nationally respected nanomedical researcher and university professor at the University of Nebraska. My work, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, focused on fundamental understanding of magnetic nanomaterials and their application to medicine. In nanomedicine, I developed new ways to improve magnetic resonance imaging and make chemotherapy treatment more effective with fewer side effects.
As a science educator, I worked at all levels, including K-12 schools, current and future science teachers, scientists and engineers, and the public. I also developed programs to facilitate interdisciplinary research and to help scientists use storytelling principles to communicate their work more effectively.
The writing/science balance changed when my book, The Physics of NASCAR, was published. It was excerpted by Time magazine and covered by outlets from the New York Times to the Materials Research Bulletin. Its success led to my writing and hostingThe Science of Speed web series and co-writing an episode of the Sports Emmy-winning television series Quest for the Cup. I was asked to speak at everything from technical conferences to award dinners and was recently honored as a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer. My science-of-motorsports blog, Building Speed is avidly read by NASCAR fans and insiders and I am a regular guest on the SiriusXM Speedway satellite radio program.
I left academia in 2013 to write full time. I have been selected to participate in the Stowe Story Labs, the inaugural Story Grid workshop, the CineStory TV/Digital Retreat, and twice in the American Film Institute’s Catalyst workshop. I hold certificates from the UCLA Professional Programs in Screenwriting and Television Writing and have consulted for the National Academy of Science’s Science and Entertainment Exchange. My play Revisions was a Finalist for the Baltimore Playwrights’ Festival.
I write speculative fiction that is strongly grounded in the real world, so don’t be surprised when things I write about actually happen in a few years. In addition to science, I am interested in the impact of science on people, institutions, and society. Among my 63 peer-reviewed research papers are a few on how stereotypes of scientists affect the way women and members of other underrepresented groups enter and survive in STEM fields. It’s probably not surprising that many of my stories involve accomplished women or minorities fighting against the status quo.