Ph.D., recipient of the inaugural Bricker Award for Science Writing. (Photo credit: Doris Huang, Houston Methodist)
It was a full house at the John F. Bookout Auditorium at the Houston Methodist Research Institute on Thursday, Oct. 27, for the first annual Bricker Award Lectureship, held in honor of the late David Bricker, a beloved science writer for Houston Methodist. Emceed by Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., president and CEO of Houston Methodist Research Institute and executive vice president of Houston Methodist Hospital, the presentation began with a touching tribute from Bricker’s family.
Freelance writer Amy Maxmen, whose work has been featured in Nature, Wired, National Geographic and Newsweek, is the recipient of the inaugural Bricker Award for Science Writing. In her presentation, titled “How to Cover Science,” Maxmen told the crowd that the trick of writing a great science story is to figure out how to make a topic interesting to anyone.
“I think a lot about my audience,” said Maxmen, who holds a Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University and has written about some of science and medicine’s most significant issues, including the Ebola epidemic, CRISPR genome editing and the anti-vaccination movement. “I’m not just writing to get something off my chest. Instead, I want my pieces to be read. So when I do that, one thing is that I have to picture my audience, and I picture them as somebody who is really smart, but maybe not interested in science at all.”
Maxmen went on to explain how she tries to frame her stories to keep the reader absorbed and how she works to balance hard science with a narrative. She spoke about some of her recent pieces and used examples to illustrate her reporting and writing styles. In the end, each of her stories circles back to the humanity behind the science—something to which we can all relate.
The Bricker Award for Science Writing in Medicine was created to honor Bricker after he passed away from gastric cancer in August 2015. The award recognizes and supports writers like Bricker who are passionate about sharing medicine’s most critical and often neglected stories.
“I am honored and I’m also really grateful to all of the great science writers out there and the editors who have really helped my own writing,” said Maxmen, whose work has taken her to exotic and sometimes hazardous locations including Mali, Sierra Leone and South Africa.
“I’ve heard a lot about how David Bricker was really passionate about science but also about how science has changed the world, and he wanted to be able to tell those stories, and I’m passionate about the same things.”
At the close of the presentation, Ferrari presented Maxmen with an engraved, silver-plated beer stein—an homage to Bricker’s self-proclaimed passion for craft beer, and surely one of the science writing profession’s most unique awards.
RT @LasAmericasMS: TY @bcmhouston medical Stu 4helping our Ss understand Germs &Hygiene. Learning in a new environment &understanding germ…
10.26, 6-8 pm: Join @MethodistHosp The Woodlands Hospital for a celebration of women’s health & wellness. Register: https://t.co/3syW4qVpnN
Dr. Janet Malek says increased acceptance of gender nonconformity is raising awareness of intersex issues. https://t.co/svkMN2fdS5
Join Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital for Positively Pink, a celebration of women’s health & wellness. This free event will be held at Big Sky Barn off ...
MD Anderson Cancer CenterMDAnderson
Cancer doesn't care what kind of boots you wear. Join us at MD Anderson Boot Walk to End Cancer on Saturday, Nov. 11 and help give cancer the boot. Register to...
@VERONICAGODOY04 Safe travels. Let us know if you need anything while you're here.
RT @SurenaMatinMD: Congratulations @ChapinMD for your determination and vision in making this happen #endcancer @MDAndersonNews #ProstateCa…
Tweet #HR4HR to help donate to hurricane relief efforts during the MLB Postseason. https://t.co/291XEy7DqE
Find out which #vaccinations cancer patients receiving treatment may need and when it’s best to get them.… https://t.co/7XCJpeJTlg
Retired Army Veteran saw service as an opportunity for education https://t.co/CJjuYulcuB via @bgdailynews
"Not smoking, watching your weight and continuing to learn new things could help you live longer" https://t.co/T79Uuy786i
RT @McGovernMed: In this week's Study Break, Dean Stoll speaks on team science: https://t.co/PLwJfj4YEG https://t.co/ct46wDXsgc
RT @McGovernMed: UTHealth, Adult Protective Services join forces to improve lives of Texas elderly https://t.co/QTm8Qhs259
RT @McGovernMed: Congratulations Dr. Gerard Francisco, elected to #NAM https://t.co/66e3lWXzhQ https://t.co/LaSwcmeYPw