Home | About | Contact | Advertise | AWG Store


Back to Career Profiles List

Career Profiles

Patricia Barnes-Svarney

Science Writer

Patricia Barnes-Svarney has always been interested in the natural world. One of her first contacts with earth science came in elementary school by reading books from the local library on rock collecting and dinosaurs. She decided to be an earth scientist when she was in the seventh grade, especially when she won third place in the local science fair with a rock and mineral display. She has a bachelor of arts degree in geology and a master of arts degree in geography/geology. Because she is interested in landform development she specialized in geomorphology and planetary morphology. There are so many ways a mountain can form, from the movement of the Earth's crustal plates to the great volcanoes on Mars!

Patricia has had a variety of different jobs in the earth sciences. As a research specialist at an oceanographic institute, she did editing and drafting of science journal papers, as well as field work on major rivers in Virginia and computer modeling of currents in the Chesapeake Bay. As a geochemist, she analyzed rock samples with special instruments. She also worked as an assistant curator at several astronomical observatories, lecturing to students and adult classes about the universe.

She now lives in Endwell, New York and is a full-time, self-employed professional writer and consultant. She likes everything about her work! Her activities vary from week to week and include doing research at public and university science libraries, interviewing scientists and engineers for articles, and formulating ideas. After all the research, she writes (and rewrites) books for young adults and articles for young people and adults on a variety of subjects, including asteroids that have struck the Earth in the past, the prehistoric seas of the Earth, or the problems of global warming. She also lectures to students on math and science in the local junior and senior high schools. Her goal is to tell, through research, writing and lecturing, as many students and adults as possible about the world of science. That means keeping up with new discoveries by reading journals, newspapers, and magazines, yet knowing what has been accomplished in the past.

Her advice to you is to ask questions, not only of your teachers but of yourself. Do you like collecting rocks? Or would you like to know more about ancient life such as the wooly mammoth? Ask questions about your interests; if no one knows the answers, take a trip to the library for a book on the subject. Another piece of advice is not to believe everything you hear or read but to question and research ideas that intrigue you. And finally, if you get a chance to visit an earth scientist, don't miss it. Seeing or talking to someone who works in earth science is very inspiring.