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Trudy E. Bell, M.A. - Home
Trudy E. Bell, M.A.
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1913 Flood - Articles and Research
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Craig B. Waff, Ph.D., 1946-2012
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Welcome! This site is a bit like a business card - a brief introduction, with just a sampling of my writings and photography, primarily recent work. I invite you to contact me for details, a formal resume, or additional clips.

I write professionally for national magazines about the physical sciences, technology and society, energy, history of astronomy, and adventure travel, including profiles of people and places present and past. I also photograph nature, weather, astronomical facilities, and energy infrastructure, and edit the text of brochures and reports for government agencies, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. Two major long-term (more than a decade) ongoing historical research interests are 19th-century U.S. observatories and telescopes, and the nation's most geographically widespread - but largely forgotten - natural disaster, the Great Easter 1913 flood.

Since June 2012, I have edited some two dozen reports, fact sheets, and policy briefs for the Union of Concerned Scientists on global security, energy, and climate change; that was also the year I became a Contributing Editor for Sky & Telescope magazine.
From mid-2011 to mid-2015, I was Senior Writer for the University of California High-Performance AstroComputing Center (UC-HiPACC). Previously, I was an editor for Scientific American and senior editor for IEEE Spectrum magazines in New York City, and a communications specialist for the Operational Effectiveness Practice of McKinsey & Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. My master's degree (history of science/American intellectual history) is from New York University, and my bachelor's (history, with a physics minor) is from the University of California at Santa Cruz. I've taught scientific and technical writing at both companies and universities, including at the graduate level at the Polytechnic University of New York in Brooklyn.

I've written, edited, or coauthored a dozen books for both adults and children on science, engineering, history, and bicycling. I was lead writer for the millennium book for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - Engineering Tomorrow: Today's Technology Experts Envision the Next Century, with Dave Dooling and Janie Fouke (IEEE Press, 2000) and author of the Smithsonian Science 101 volume Weather (Smithsonian/HarperCollins, 2007) and The Great Dayton Flood of 1913 (Arcadia Publishing, 2008). My children's books are four titles in astronomy for middle school students. In November 2012, I launched a research blog "'Our National Calamity': The Great Easter 1913 Flood" about the most widespread national disaster ever to afflict the U.S.; as of June 2016, it has published 50 articles featuring original research by meteorologists, flood control experts, and historians as well as me.

More than 500 of my feature articles have been published by national, regional, and specialized publications including Adventure Cyclist, Air & Space/Smithsonian, American Archaeology, Astronomy, IEEE Spectrum, Nature, Ohio, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Scientific American, Sky and Telescope, The Bent of Tau Beta Pi, and the popular Science @ NASA
website. (Text continues below images and caption)


me standing in front of one of the giant woofers in the world's largest/loudest reverb acoustic test chamber at NASA Plum Brook                 Death Valley desert gold to the horizon        reflection in lens of 20-in Rachel refractor Chabot Obs       standing at base of Lick Observatory 36-inch refractor       
with coauthor Karl Esch at Kennedy Space Center investigating the Challenger accident for IEEE Spectrum - special report won three top journalism awards        interviewing SOFIA telescope operator for Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine       interviewing David Bush at Johnson Island Civil War prisoner of war camp for Confederate officers, for American Archaeology       helping to document the cleaning of 16-inch lens of Dudley Observatory 19thC Pruyn telescope at Brashear LP       at Apache Point Observatory (next to the National Solar Observatory) in New Mexico         at first contact of the transit of Venus June 5, 2012, inside the 150-foot solar telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory          Trudy E. Bell at Great Dunes in Colorado for Air & Space article on lunar and martian dust, 2006          Trudy E. Bell overlooking Huffman Dam dry detention flood control basin north of Dayton, Ohio          Trudy E. Bell before Lock 2 of the Ohio and Erie Canal, Akron 2013; photo by Michael Chritton Akron Beacon-Journal           formal author portrait of Trudy E. Bell           formal author portrait of Trudy E. Bell with books written                     

[CAPTION FOR IMAGES] First person is the best way to get a fresh angle on a story. Assignments have carried me to many observatories and university laboratories and historical archives, and most NASA centers (Ames, Dryden, Glenn, Goddard, Headquarters in DC, JPL, Johnson, Kennedy, and Plum Brook; have missed only Langley and Michaud). The banner photograph at the top of this web page shows me standing atop the 2.5-mile-long X-arm of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, Louisiana, while on assignment for Air & Space/Smithsonian. Small images: standing in front of one of the giant woofers in the world's largest and loudest reverb acoustic testing chamber at NASA Plum Brook, June 2016; photographing California poppies near Lancaster and desert gold wildflowers in Death Valley, March 2016; totally cool astronomical selfie capturing multiple reflections from the four surfaces of the 20-inch doublet lens of the 1914 Brashear refractor "Rachel" at Chabot Observatory in California and standing at the base of the 36-inch Clark refractor (1888) at Lick Observatory (once the largest telescope in the world) in 2015. Other assignments depicted have taken me to NASA's Kennedy Space Center; NASA Dryden (inside still-incomplete SOFIA); the Johnson Island archaeological dig near Sandusky, Ohio; LL Brashear optical labs in Pittsburgh; Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico; inside the 150-foot solar telescope at Mount Wilson Solar Observatory for the 2012 transit of Venus, and at the Great Dunes in Colorado for an Air & Space/Smithsonian article on lunar and Martian dust. Relevant to my 1913 flood research are two images, one of me seated overlooking Huffman Dam (one of the five innovative dry detention basins built in the Miami Valley north of Dayton, Ohio, for flood control) and the other of me standing before Lock 2 of the Ohio and Erie Canal through Akron, Ohio, a canal dynamited during the 1913 flood, summarily ending Ohio's canal era. Also shown are two formal author photos (with and without the books I've written). [Editors: contact me for publication-quality high-resolution versions.]

Articles of mine on astronomical topics, meteorological optics, and historical astronomers have also appeared in several academic and general encyclopedias. My 19 top journalism awards include the 2006 David N. Schramm Award of the American Astronomical Society. Twice I've received the Herbert C. Pollock Award of the Dudley Observatory to support research in the history of astronomy (2004, 2007) and was a Filson Fellow (2009) at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky, to support historical research on the 1913 flood in Kentucky. In 2010, I received a career grant to study photography from the National Association of Science Writers. In Spring 2010 and again in Spring 2011, I was a Presidential Fellow at Case Western Reserve University. In May 2013, I was a Fellow at the Kalamazoo River Institute of the Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources.

Hm-m, does any Antarctic expedition need a seasoned writer?

(Page updated June 12, 2016)


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