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About Josh Schimel

I grew up in New York City, loving the outdoors but thinking I wanted to be a chemist. I only discovered soil science after I graduated from College and was working as a technician in an ecosystem ecology lab. I’d never liked biology but I’d never realized that it could let you do chemistry with a view out the window that wasn’t looking over the East River to Brooklyn, but over Toolik Lake and the arctic cottongrass south to the Brooks Range, and the world. It’s even more fun when the snow’s flying and the mosquitoes are not.

I became a Professor, first at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and now at UC Santa Barbara, as well as journal editor, Program Chair, and other jobs that need doing to keep science and Academe running. But the real fun in being a scientist will always be the rush of a new data set. There is nothing like the “Huh!?” of a “What an Idiot” moment, when something that had been puzzling suddenly becomes clear, leaving me wondering how I’d been such an idiot not to have seen it before.

Somewhere along the line I became interested in communication and how we tell the story to explain our results; marrying an aspiring writer didn’t hurt either. I put together my first workshop on writing science when I was spending the summer in a lab in Montpellier, France; that morphed into a full-blown graduate class back in Santa Barbara. I started writing up notes from class and thought I might flesh them out in a few columns for the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. Everything was going smoothly until the “What an Idiot” moment: I wasn’t writing a few essays–I was writing a book. Huh.

Now I’m doing a blog to give me space to follow up on thoughts and topics that didn’t make it into Writing Science.

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