My Journey to Science - Science Writer

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 by Jill Harlow

When I was in 5th grade I lived on a lake in Mapleton, ME. I spent a lot of time outdoors, exploring the woods and water. I loved school, especially science class. I think that was because  I loved reading about animals. I didn’t know I was also doing science when I was fishing, hunting, or even just observing nature and asking questions. I wish someone had told me that lots of science happened outdoors and involved being super creative. I also loved to write and draw.

When I got older, I had a pretty cool job one summer working in a laboratory on Mount Desert Island. I helped a medical researcher do experiments to learn how heavy metals cause changes in cells. I got to do surgery on skates to take samples of their livers. I measured a lot of chemicals, prepped cell samples and pipetted them into little tubes, and put them in a centrifuge.  I also washed a lot beakers and test tubes (not my favorite task!). What we were learning was so cool! For a while I thought I wanted to be a scientist or maybe a vet. But I also still wanted to write and draw. And while I really liked answering questions, I didn’t really love the lab work. That just didn’t seem like a job I could do every day.

So when I went away to college, I decided to focus in writing instead of research. I still took some science classes for fun. I didn’t know what kind of job would let me do both science and writing, but I didn’t want to leave science behind. Fast forward about 15 years. Now I work at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. What I do here is write grant proposals to raise money to fund research and help to tell stories about what our scientists are discovering. I get to have all of the fun of learning new things about the ocean, but I also get to write -- every day.  There are so many different ways to have a job that involves science and other things like writing or art! You just have to look around and talk to people who do all kinds of work.  


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