Penny Chisholm is interested in how her science touches every place, every person on earth. An award-winning MIT Environmental Sciences professor best known for her research on ocean phytoplankton and how it influences marine policy & management, Dr. Chisholm’s influence and creativity take her far behind the confines of her MIT lab. Dr. Chisholm is invested in both furthering the knowledge of environmental science and making it accessible and important to everyone. Even at the lab she finds new ways to broaden the reach of environmental science. In 2011, she did a great interview in which she gave hip-hop artist GZA (a.k.a. Gary Grice, founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan) both a lesson in ecology and new words to work into his physics based recording, Dark Matter (quick: what rhymes with carboxysome?).
Dr. Chisholm received the National Medal of Science in a White House ceremony in February 2013, and has co-authored two award-winning picture books including Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life (The Blue Sky Press, 2009) and Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas (The Blue Sky Press, 2012), both of which have been awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, which recognizes outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. She tells Tumblehome Talks that the next book in the series, Buried Sunlight (2014) “is about how fossil fuels were deposited over millions of years – the fact that they are ancient buried plant matter (hence “buried sunlight”) – and then talks about how burning fossil fuel is putting all that ancient carbon into the atmosphere in a very short time period. Then we talk about greenhouse warming and climate change.”
We hope you’ll make time to some and hear Dr. Chisholm on Monday April 15 (Patriot’s Day), when she’ll participate in Tumblehome Learning’s “Best Science Writers” discussion panel featuring Boston area writers & educators. She and her fellow distinguished writers (Amy Dockser Marcus and Dr. Tasneem Zehra Husain) will discuss how they translate complex research for the general public and other topics of interest to them. Don’t miss it!