I am an expert professional writer of nearly 30 years experience, covering both fiction and non-fiction. I have published thousands of articles, and completed five books to date with more on the way. I am also highly experienced at teaching all kinds of non-fiction, academic writing, fiction, writing for English tests, and science communication.
- Science writer, Intrasoft International, for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research
- Writing Teacher, Victoria University
I am a blackbelt writer. I like the martial arts analogy for many reasons, including that it has nothing to do with universities. Like in martial arts concerning fighting, people either know how to write or they don’t. Where and how they got this knowledge doesn’t matter.
In fact, I currently have five Tertiary qualifications, three of which specifically concern communication and writing. Yet I truly do not believe I learnt much from that study.
I was a natural. My initial university study wasn’t in writing, but like all such study, it involved a lot of writing. Starting at an above average level, I became better and better. (My university teachers helped, but I was lucky. Generally they don’t.)
I did no apprenticeship or amateur work. I came straight in at the top level, and my first gigs were for CSIRO. Thus I had the harshest critics. Being scientists, they profoundly care about accuracy, so they bluntly and exhaustively critiqued my work, since it affected communication of their work. Scientists treat everyone like that, without concern for egos. It’s not cruelty, it’s truth; there’s a big difference. My ex-wife (and still best friend) was a professor of English and creative writing; later she savaged my work even more and with even less regard for sentiment. I would never teach the way I learned, but in fact this was the perfect way to learn (at least perfect for me). Schools never provide this.
After a short while, I became good enough that those very same scientists started coming to me for advice on their writing.
I also learnt a vast amount on the job, as below.
Writing career highlights
- While working at CSIRO as an ecologist, I started freelancing for CSIRO clients, regularly doing major features in CSIRO magazines (The Helix, Ecos, Rural Research), plus miscellaneous other CSIRO editorial work.
- Later, I became Information Officer at the CSIRO Office of Space Science and Applications. This involved being the primary contributor to and later Editor of CSIRO Space Industry News. I wrote many miscellaneous CSIRO publications.
- Within a CSIRO position, I was Publications Manager for the Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems. CSIRO Space Industry News was renamed and expanded; I remained its Editor and principal writer. Many of my articles were reprinted in the Australian and international press. Being publication manager also meant assessing manuscripts sent to CSIRO for possible publishing.
- Freelance writer and editor, various international gigs.
- Living in China, I blogged about life there. I wrote a major analytical book about China, and it has its own blog.
- Science and medical writer for EBSCOHost: a series of articles intended for Australian secondary students.
- Science writer and Editor, Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University. I did a bit of everything.
- Science writer, European Geophysical Union. Feature articles.
- Science writer and educator (contractor), Pearson Australia (publisher). I co-wrote the 2018/19 updated editions of the upper- secondary biology texts intended for New South Wales schools, previously called Heinemann Biology 1 & 2 (years 11 and 12).
- Science writer, Intrasoft International, for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research (since 2013). I write feature articles about European Union funded research projects, mostly Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and Horizon 2020 projects, about all forms of science and technology, and most other branches of research.
- I have also completed several other books, in preparation for publication. Others are in development. I’m always working on something.
Teaching career highlights
I have been formally teaching writing and other communication skills since 1995. During that time, I have taught at nine universities or university-equivalents. These include:
- The University of Canberra (Australia, science communication including writing)
- Charles Sturt University (Australia, academic skills)
- The Australian National University College (Australia, English and academic writing)
- Shanghai Jiaotong University (China, English and academic skills)
- Sydney Institute of Interpreting and Translation (Australia, IELTS skills including writing)
- Stott’s College, Melbourne (Australia, Bachelor of Business program, academic skills)
- Australian Technical and Management College (Australia, English for Academic Purposes including academic writing)
- Melbourne Polytechnic (Australia, Professional Writing and Editing)
- Victoria University (Australia, Professional Writing and Editing)
The latter has given me enormous current experience with online teaching.
Furthermore, I have been an English teacher for 16 years, which included a lot of writing classes. In many cases, the students were extremely advanced, equivalent to (if not better than) native speakers. They usually wanted to learn for a particular need.
As an extension of my ESL teaching, I was an IELTS Examiner for nearly nine years.
Additionally, throughout my nearly 30-year career as a science writer and communicator, I often gave informal advice to junior and senior researchers, and PhD students, on these matters.
- Master of Science, Astronomy, Swinburne University of Technology, 2020
- Postgraduate Certificate, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Macquarie University, 2004
- Postgraduate Diploma, Science Communication, Central Queensland University, 2004
- Graduate Diploma, Professional Writing, University of Canberra, 2003. (To be upgraded to Masters during 2021.)
- Bachelor of Applied Science, Ecology and Natural Resources University of Canberra, 1993
- Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, 2012; upgraded 2019, Victoria University
Still more about me.