Seán Duke, pictured on the right, on the porch of his father’s house in Charleston, South Carolina, is a science writer, editor and broadcaster, based in Dublin, Ireland.
To contact Seán please email: email@example.com
Seán was born in the USA in 1965 to Irish parents, both scientists. He travelled the world as a child with his globe-trotting parents, and spent time in primary school in Charleston SC and West Berlin, before settling back to life in Dublin.
The life of a scientist, Seán felt, from an early stage, was an exciting and interesting one. There was little doubt that he would eventually follow his parents footsteps and work in science, in some capacity.
Seán went to college at University College Dublin, starting in 1983, and emerged four years later in 1987, just a little, but not a lot, wiser, with a Bachelors degree in Science – covering Botany, Zoology and Geology in his final year.
Certainly, 1987 was not the ideal time to go searching for a job, and with most of his friends leaving Ireland, he decided to stay in college, and move his career more in the direction of the Arts, and took a degree in History at Dublin’s other big university, Trinity College (TCD).
In 1991, armed with a science and history degree he could argue that perhaps now he was educated, but was he employable? On the horizon, a new concept emerged that he was only vaguely aware of – science journalism. Seán found the idea of writing, and communicating science for a living to be a very exciting one and, he still does.
Seán headed again to the USA, and took a Masters in Science & Environmental Reporting at New York University. This was a fantastic experience, he recalls, both living in one of the greatest cities in the world, and studying something he loved.
As a US citizen by virtue of his birth in the US, Seán could easily have stayed in the States, and there were great job opportunities to be had. But, the call of home was strong, for family reasons as much as professional ones, and, in 1993, after two years away, he felt Ireland was where he wanted to be, and where he wanted to live his life.
On return, he immediately realised it was going to be difficult to make a living from science journalism in Ireland. The newspapers were full of politics, business and sport, and editors didn’t seem too pushed on publishing science stories.
He began writing for the local newspaper, the Liffey Champion, and contributing to various magazines and newspapers, while also part-time teaching. That continued up to 1998 when he went into journalism full time with the Champion.
This was another great experience, he recalled, writing about everything from politics, to sport to business, deaths of significant local personalities, and, even squeezing in some stories in about science after ‘selling it’ to the editor.
In 2000, an opportunity came along to join Technology Ireland, the flagship publication of Irish State agency Enterprise Ireland. The magazine was a monthly, and traditionally had a strong science and technology coverage. He was looking for a chance to get into science writing full-time, and this appeared to be that chance.
He rose to become sole Editor of Technology Ireland, but in 2003, as the focus of the supporting agency, Enterprise Ireland, shifted away from science, he felt it was only a matter of time before the magazine would follow suit.
Seán felt it was time to move on, and he co-founded a new publication, Science Spin, along with his fellow journalists, Tom Kennedy and Mary Sweetman, which became Ireland’s first and only popular science magazine.
Science Spin began as a quarterly, but now it is well-established as publication that is printed every two months. The readership has grown, and, despite the economic collapse since 2008, it remains well positioned for the new decade.
As well as writing and editing work for Science Spin, Seán is a regular contributor to The Sunday Times, Irish edition, and Science (AAAS), the latter being arguably the most influential scientific publication in the world.
In the past few years, he has begun to dip his toe into TV broadcasting, and in 2008 and 2009 he had regular science slots with TV3′s Ireland AM. In 2010, Seán contributed science slots to RTE’s The Daily Show.
Seán is also an active radio broadcaster. Since 2009, he has a weekly science radio show on 103.2 Dublin City FM, called Science Spinning, in which he seeks to make science understandable and interesting for a general audience.
He also contributes regularly to East Coast FM’s The Morning Show with Declan Meehan.
Seán has always felt that for scientists to be successful they must be able to effectively communicate with the public, and with funding agencies. This belief led to the establishment of the Speaking Science initiative in 2008.
In another exciting new venture, Seán, since 2010 has acted as a facilitator and workshop leader for the TCD-UCD Innovation Academy. The Academy’s goal is to foster creativity and entrepreneurial skills among PhD candidates.
Seán is currently working on his first book, called How Irish Scientists Changed the World. This is due for publication in 2012 by Londubh Books, Dublin.
Seán lives in Terenure, on Dublin city’s southside, is married to Maria, and they are the proud owners of three children: Ted (4) and twins Bobby and Mae (2).