Cat Warren's expertise as a journalist impacted her experience and reflections in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One science editor, Liz Neely, described our situation like this: “We are all science communicators now: COVID-19 has conscripted us.” While most of us would rather not be enlisted in this particular crisis, it’s clear to me that good science journalism is a lifeline in the age of COVID-19. One top science journalist, Ed Yong of the Atlantic, notes that COVID-19 is now too complex, too “befuddling” for any one person to understand: It’s “a slew of forces scientific and societal, epidemiological and epistemological.” That’s where good reporting, and good science reporting, is critical. It gives a way to understand some of those forces, to sort through information that might take us years of expertise to understand. Good science journalists help explain confusing science and medicine, and newly discovered modes of infection. They help us understand what is huge and befuddling.
Cat Warren, Ph.D. is a professor at North Carolina State University, where she teaches science journalism, editing, and creative nonfiction. She received a university outstanding teacher award in 2018. Before joining NC State, Cat was a newspaper reporter. She’s covered bombers holding a school hostage, a physician who sexually assaulted dozens of patients over decades, and the deep poverty in Connecticut cities. She has also been a national education magazine editor and a communication director for a non-profit justice organization. Her first book, What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World (Touchstone), became a New York Times bestseller and was long listed for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers published her adaptation of that book in October.