Journalists in Residence at the Albert Einstein Institute
Journalists in Residence 2019
Dr. Conor P. Purcell (stayed April 27 - May 26, 2019)
"Journalism is all about watching and listening. Throwing yourself into the midst of an environment. For science that means joining researchers as they work in the field or at an institute, in their laboratories and workspaces. You have to see it, watch it, hear it. You have to ask the right questions.
Journalist in Residence programs provide a platform for exactly that. By inviting journalists to spend time with its researchers the Albert Einstein Institute achieves two things. On the one hand the journalist learns from the physicists and may be inspired to produce some work of merit. On the other, the physicists avail of a journalist's knowledge in investigating research and correctly communicating its results, its drawbacks, and its aspirations.
My month here at the institute provided me with the freedom to set and follow my own project, and for that itself to evolve and change as the weeks quickly passed. This kind of freedom is critical for a journalist in a similar way it is to a scientist. The very nature of this kind of creative work requires space to think and breath and to pivot around ideas as new ones come and old ones go. In time many unforeseen realities become apparent.
The freedom I experienced was profound - let motivated people do their work and they will produce. During my stay, in May 2019, I met and interviewed many scientists and enjoyed a high level of professional cooperation. The researchers were interested to have a Journalist in Residence program and during my stay I discussed the profession of science journalism with many interested PhDs and Postdocs. Living on campus also gave me ample evening time to consider what I had learned during the day. It was somehow like a personal retreat.
I wish the institute many more happy years with this program."
Conor Purcell is a science journalist and editor with a PhD in Earth Science. He is a regular contributor of science at The Irish Times, and has also written for Science, New Scientist, Cosmos, The Ecologist, Ars Technica, The Daily Beast, Undark, Horizon and The Sunday Times, amongst others. He writes mostly on climate change, environmental issues, physics, and space, but has also tackled other complex topics including the link between diet and human health. During his career as a researcher he co-authored on a scientific paper published in Nature.
Conor Purcell is also the founding editor of the Wide Orbits community for Ideas, Issues, and Culture. In addition to his work in journalism, he is a private mathematics tutor and musician. He is currently on the Executive Committee of the Irish Science and Technology Journalists' Association (ISTJA).
Articles by Conor Purcell about AEI research:
Heavyweight in the field of gravity research
Q&A: physicist Dr Daniele Oriti, group leader at the Max Planck Institute
The Irish Times, May 30, 2019
What’s inside a black hole? We’re looking into it
Physicist Ana Alonso-Serrano on black holes, wormholes and the multiverse theory
The Irish Times, June 13, 2019