GeoTalk interviews usually feature the work of early career researchers, but this month we deviate from the standard format to speak to the newest member of the EGU office, Terri Cook. Terri is an award-winning science and travel writer who has a passion for geology and storytelling. You can find her work featured in a number of news outlets, including Scientific American, New Scientist, Eos, Lonely Planet, and the L.A. Times travel section.
Last month Terri joined the office as EGU’s new Head of Media, Communications and Outreach. We are very happy to welcome her to the EGU community, and in this interview, we’ve asked a few questions to get to know her better.
Before we get stuck in, could you introduce yourself and tell us more about your career path?
I have a pretty eclectic background! My undergrad degree is in archaeology, and my grad degree is in geology. For my thesis, I studied the biogeochemical evolution of black-smoker deposits and published the results in Science. Since graduating I’ve worked as an environmental consultant, a college environmental studies instructor, the Outreach Director for The Extreme Ice Survey, and for the past seven years as a full-time freelance writer.
How did you first get into science writing and outreach?
The home I grew up in had a meteorite as its cornerstone. I spent many hours daydreaming about that rock’s grand adventures, and it certainly inspired my interests in travel and science. I had always wanted to try writing, but it wasn’t until about 16 years ago, when I walked into a store and saw a stack of ‘Hiking Colorado’s Geology’ books sitting on a table, that I finally decided to try it. I contacted the publisher about writing the same book for Arizona, but they told me it was already underway–and then asked if I’d like to write one about the Grand Canyon instead? I jumped at that chance and have never looked back!
How did you first hear about EGU? What motivated you to be a part of the EGU office?
Another science writer told me about EGU’s Science Journalism Fellowships. Funding to follow scientists on location is ideal for the types of articles I like to write, so I applied and was honoured to receive one. I followed up my very positive reporting experience with a trip to this year’s General Assembly, where I was impressed by the strong sense of community and the avid interest in science communication – the short courses and session I spoke at were packed! So when I saw the job advertised, it was an easy decision to apply.
What are you most looking forward to about working for EGU? What do you hope to achieve?
It’s both a privilege and a big responsibility to manage communications for Europe’s largest geoscience society. I’m looking forward to helping spread the word about the cutting-edge research published in EGU journals and presented at the General Assembly. I also hope to implement a research-based approach to most effectively communicate the results of this research to policymakers and the public.
As a science and travel writer, you’ve been to some pretty beautiful (and geologically interesting) places! What is one of your favorite spots and why?
If I can only choose one place, I’d have to say Jordan. The people there are warm and welcoming, the culture is fascinating, and the landscapes are really diverse–everything from the Dead Sea and the ancient Nabatean city of Petra to Wadi Rum, where The Martian was filmed. It’s filled with hidden springs, sinuous slot canyons, shifting sand dunes, and towering rock walls where the sun’s last rays illuminate the Great Unconformity—definitely a geologist’s paradise!
Interview by Olivia Trani, EGU Communications Officer