UW-Madison: ‘Gonzo Scientist’ to discuss the wild side of science writing

CONTACT: Terry Devitt (608) 262-8282, [email protected]

MADISON – Science writer John Bohannon will bring his alter ego, the “Gonzo Scientist,” to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus the week of April 26. Bohannon will participate in science and journalism classes and work individually with students, staff and faculty to provide insight into how science news is made and written.

Bohannon will also deliver a free public lecture on Tuesday, April 27 at 4 p.m. in Room 4151 of Grainger Hall, 975 University Ave.

The talk is entitled “Why I left the lab to make Green Porno with Isabella Rossellini.”

The televised “Green Porno” series employs scientists, clad as the sex organs of animals, to discuss evolution and reproduction.

“Who knew that a Ph.D. in molecular biology could be so useful?” says Bohannon, who plans to “describe the strange path that took me from research in a laboratory at the University of Oxford to telling stories from the slums of Gaza, the forests of Madagascar, and now on television depicting animal sex with Isabella Rossellini.”

Bohannon has fleshed out the Gonzo Scientist in articles and web pages for Science Magazine. One article focused on a line dance that a student staged to illustrate a concept in molecular biology. Another article described an expedition to the Gobi Desert to watch a solar eclipse, where he found himself “in the midst of a mob of Mongolians” who were “going essentially insane as they tried to dissuade the monstrous god Rah from eating the sun.”

Bohannon’s writing for plays and television has won awards; each May, he is playwright in residence at Oriel College at Oxford.

UW-Madison’s Science Writer in Residence Program, now in its 24th year, was established with the help of the Brittingham Trust and continues with support from the UW Foundation. Past visiting writers include many of the nation’s leading science writers, including three whose work subsequently earned Pulitzer Prizes.

The UW-Madison Science Writer in Residence Program is sponsored by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and University Communications.