Clare Watson

Science writer and freelance journalist


If you see someone doing something that sparks your interest, – ask them lots of questions.

What do you do?

I’m a storyteller who loves science. I think science captures humans at our best: creative, curious, seriously dedicated and always searching for something new. Science is exciting because of everything that we know about the Earth, the universe and our place in it – and everything we don’t. It gives me goose bumps to think what else there is still to discover.

I write features stories and news articles, record interviews for radio, and host conversations at writing and science festivals. I’ve written stories for Undark Magazine, Australian Geographic, Smith Journal and Lateral Magazine with news snippets and interviews aired on ABC Radio National (Australia).

Why did you choose this field?

I couldn’t choose which science subjects to study at school, so I took them all. After university, I bounced around science labs, working with different research groups (working to understand how genes and proteins are involved in pancreatic cancer and motor neuron disease). I started to wonder where I fitted in. I saw other people doing some amazing work, and I wondered how and where I could best contribute in science. Everything seemed so important.

I was always interested in what other people were working on – and not just in biomedical research. I couldn’t contain my curiosity in the lab and when I started paying attention to the way that my mind worked, I realised it was something that I should embrace. Now I see my mind as an asset, not a distraction. I’m always on the lookout for new stories and that usually starts with a question: What if? How come? Why not?

Looking back, there are three things that really stand out to me: a podcast called RadioLab, a book that I borrowed from my first research supervisor called ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ and a trip to San Pedro de Atacama Desert in Chile where the stars I remembered from my physics textbook jumped off the page.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

If you had told me, when I was in high school, that one day I’d be travelling across the state to interview palaeontologists and shark scientists, visiting museums and their precious collections, stumbling through wetlands behind a super enthusiastic entomologist (bug scientist) or following researchers on their journey to Antarctica* – I don’t think I would have believed you. I didn’t even know that you could make a career out of writing about science. Plus, in high school, I was pegged as ‘the science kid’, so I didn’t think I was that creative. That took years to overcome.

So, it’s every day really that I catch myself thinking – and usually, right as I’m about to call a scientist or knock on their door – gees, how lucky am I to get to do this?

*via social media and many emails, but I still hope to visit myself one day!

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love that when you take on a news story, you might go from knowing almost nothing about a topic to knowing a whole lot more about it, all in one day. Or, with feature stories, you get the chance to dive into a topic and learn from people with different perspectives. I wake up looking forward to learning something new every day.

Best advice for next generation?

Keep your eyes and ears open. If you see someone doing something that sparks your interest, ask them about it – ask them lots of questions. And then, find that little voice in your head, the one that pops up when no one else is around, that says, ‘Maybe I could do that’. Listen to that voice, hold on to it, and follow its lead! You never quite know where it might take you.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

Fun fact - I love listening to Duolingo’s Spanish podcast. It has stories from all over the world for intermediate Spanish speakers. The stories are narrated in Spanish and the podcast is hosted in English, so you’re always learning as you listen – whether it’s to improve your Spanish or just to learn about incredible people and their stories.

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