Lisa McDonald

Lisa McDonald

Associate Editor and Science Writer

Since high school, I knew I wanted to write about science rather than do science. As such, I chose to attend a college that was strong in both science and communication disciplines. I decided to pursue physics as my science specialty because I felt if I could understand and explain quantum mechanics, I should be able to explain just about any science topic.

I ended up attending Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for my bachelor's in physics and communication studies. During my time at Coe, I did glass research on the binary tellurium vanadate glass system under Mario Affatigato (my research just published this month, three years after my graduation). I became heavily involved with SPS my junior year after Steve Feller encouraged me to apply for an Associate Zone Councilor position.

 I was the AZC for Zone 11 for two years, during which time I served at the head of the Awards Committee, to help clarify the terminology being used (e.g., award, prize); and the special committee tasked with reviewing the SPS Constitution and Bylaws, to help clarify and update the language used in these documents. In terms of Zone meetings, I helped arrange the 2016 Zone meeting at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, which I flew out to attend; and I arranged the 2017 Zone meeting at my own school, Coe College, which involved me securing a tour of Rockwell Collins and bringing Don Gurnett and James Gates to campus as plenary speakers. I also helped during the 2016 PhysCon in San Francisco, including overseeing sessions, verifying guests were where they needed to be, and introducing plenary speaker Eric Allin Cornell.

 Following graduation, I secured one of the SPS-sponsored summer internship positions, as writer for the AIP science policy newsletter FYI. This position was my first choice because as a future science communicator, I wished to broadly cover and learn about how science funding and policy is decided. As FYI intern, I wrote six articles, three of which were done by myself while three were co-written.

 After the FYI internship, I attended Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, for a year to get my master's in science communication (my research from the master's thesis is currently under review at a journal). During the master's, I spent 10 weeks in Meyrin, Switzerland, interning for the ATLAS Experiment at CERN; my main project was creating the ATLAS Flickr page from scratch. I also remotely served on the SPS Chapter Awards Decision Committee as previous AZC representative.

 Before I graduated from my master's, I was offered a job at The American Ceramic Society as science writer, which I accepted and began in November 2018 following graduation. I have now worked at ACerS for about a year and a half, and I am now associate editor. My job responsibilities include writing the thrice-a-week newsletter, Ceramic Tech Chat, covering science research in our 11 Divisions; coordinating with researchers and editing article contributions for our nine-times-a-year magazine, the Bulletin; helping to launch a new B2B magazine, Ceramic & Glass Manufacturing; and doing all the audio scripting, editing, transcribing, and website creation for our new podcast, Ceramic Tech Chat, which launched May 13.