Nevertheless, my academic career took a different direction. I loved mathematics too, and earned a doctorate from Princeton. I taught math for six years at Duke University and seven years at Kenyon College in Ohio. I enjoyed it, but I have to say I never felt that teaching was my true calling.
When I was denied tenure at Kenyon (see the story here), it was both a wake-up call and a chance to get things right. Then I read about the Science Communication Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and all the pieces of the puzzle clicked together. I could be a writer, as I had always wanted to be, and still make use of my knowledge of math and science. At UCSC I learned about journalism and made the contacts I needed to hit the ground running in my new career.
More than twenty years later, I’m still making a living as a freelance writer, and enjoying every moment of it! Writing has taken me places I never expected: to Cape Canaveral to watch a satellite launch, to Norway to interview an oil company vice president, and even to my own back yard — Stanford — to watch a Rubik’s Cube competition. Even better, it is a constant education; my job is to get free lessons from the smartest people in the world, and then write about them.
Even More About Dana
Are you serious? You really want to know more?? Okay, then — here are some links to:
- The Tenure Chase Papers (The unexpectedly interesting story of how I was denied tenure at Kenyon. According to www.phds.org, this is “required reading for all academics and would-be academics.”)
- The Story of The Book of Why
- The Story of The Big Splat
- The Story of The Universe in Zero Words
- Chess is a pretty serious hobby for me. I’m a Life Master, a two-time champion of North Carolina, a former lecturer at ChessLecture (where you can still watch more than 100 of my instructional videos), and I write a chess blog. And I run a weekly chess club for kids at the Aptos Public Library.