Communicating Genomics: Interview with Kendall Morgan

Kendall Morgan is the new Communications Director for the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. We first met at the second Science Blogging Conference back in January, but, being neighbors, hope to continue communication and collaboration in the future.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your scientific background?
Hmmm. Where to start? I’m originally from Wheeling, W. Va. I went to a small Quaker college in Indiana and from there directly to graduate school at the University of Oregon where I studied evolutionary biology and quantitative genetics. Coming from a liberal arts college, grad school and the research institution environment in general came as something of a shock. I finished my Ph.D. in five years nonetheless and then started looking for a less research-oriented path. Initially, I thought I’d return to my liberal arts college past and teach, but I ended up applying to the Science Communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I got in and have been a science writer ever since. After interning at a few places — a national lab in Idaho and Science News magazine — I made the move to Duke. I’m also a big fan of random acts of travel, but that’s another story.
What is your Real World job? How does blogging figure in it?
I’ve been working as a science writer and communicator for the last five years in various capacities at Duke, first in the Duke Medical Center News Office and then at the Pratt School of Engineering. As of two months ago, I became the communications director for the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. So far, blogging doesn’t figure into it other than keeping tabs on a handful of relevant science blogs out there. But, particularly given that the IGSP is all about genome sciences and their ethical, legal and societal implications, I see plenty of opportunity for incorporating a blog into my day job. There’s no doubt blogs can be a great way to communicate science and to start conversations around science, and I’d say that’s a big part of what the IGSP is about. Stay tuned…
kendall%20morgan%20interview%20pic.jpgWhat do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?
I’m really enjoying my new position at the IGSP and, to be honest, am not thinking too much at the moment about what might be next on the career front. I recently took a course in mindfulness-based stress reduction through Duke Integrative Medicine. I think my biggest goal now is to find some balance in life and enjoy the moment.
You were at the Blogging101 session on Friday morning. Was it useful to you? If you started a blog then, are you going to continue with it? May we see it?
The blogging 101 session was definitely useful. It was a good place for a non-blogger like me to talk about blogs with bloggers and to be reminded how incredibly easy it actually is to start one. The hard part would be to continue with one, and no, I didn’t.
When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
I actually didn’t discover science blogs all that long ago. I first got into blogs during the last presidential election, but those were political blogs. I now keep up with a few of the blogs on scienceblogs…yours, The Intersection, Cognitive Daily. I usually take a look at ScienceBlogs Select as well. There are a few other blogs on genes and genomes that I look at now and again e.g. Genetic Future, Gene Expression and, of course, genomeboy written by the IGSP’s very own Misha Angrist, and some others. It still feels a bit like another world that I’m not quite a part of, but I enjoy checking them out when I have the time.
Is there anything that happened at this Conference – a session, something someone said or did or wrote – that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your job, blog-reading and blog-writing?
At this point, it’s been a while since the conference so it’s hard for me to say precisely. I’m sure there are many little things that have influenced the way that I am thinking about the possibilities offered by blogs for communicating science and that have generally influenced the degree to which I pay attention to what’s happening in the blogosphere. Overall, I’d say it was an eye opener to the world of science blogging and definitely worth a Saturday for bloggers and non-bloggers alike. I feel lucky that it all happens right here in the Triangle.
It was so nice to meet you at the Conference and thank you for the interview.
Thank YOU!
Check out all the interviews in this series.


2 responses to “Communicating Genomics: Interview with Kendall Morgan

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