The Poisoner’s Guide to Life

Professor Deborah Blum

Pulitzer prize-winning science journalist, columnist for the New York Times and Professor of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

6pm Thursday 28 November 2013, Te Whare Aparangi, Royal Society of New Zealand

 At Six Masthead

Listen to audio file of The Poisoner’s Guide to Life (MP3, 18.9 MB) (51 mins)

Watch questions and answers:

Listen to audio file of questions and answers (MP3, 9.4 MB) (25 mins).

We take for granted our CSI-era society in which scientists work with police detectives to solve crimes. But what was it like before we built the profession of forensic medicine, when – as New York City announced in 1918 – the clever poisoner can “operate with impunity” because no one can catch them? This talk explores the building of forensic science in both homicide and in public health and looks at the ways its lessons helps us navigate our chemical world today.

About Deborah Blum

Deborah BlumDeborah Blum, a Pulitzer prize-winning science journalist, author and blogger, is the Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Author of five books and a popular guide to science writing, her most recent publication,  The Poisoner’s Handbook, was a 2011 New York Times paperback best seller. 

Blum writes a monthly environmental chemistry column for the New York Times called Poison Pen. She also blogs about toxic compounds at Wired; her blog Elemental was named one of the top 25 blogs of 2013 by Time magazine.  She has written for a wide range of other publications including Scientific American, Slate, Tin House, The Atavist, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times and Discover.  Before joining the university in 1997, she was a science writer for The Sacramento Bee, where she won the Pulitzer in 1992 for her reporting on ethical issues in primate research.   

She has appeared as a guest on The Today show, Good Morning America, and NPR’s This American Life, Morning Edition, and Talk of the Nation/ Science Friday among others. For her work in science communication, Blum has been named a lifetime associate of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  She is a past-president of the National Association of Science Writers (USA) and serves as vice president of the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. 

Listen to Saturday Morning interview of Deborah Blum on Poison with Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand National.  

Listen to Our Changing World interview with Deborah Blum, speaking about the value of science communication and the importance of story.

Deborah Blum visited New Zealand as a guest of the Science Faculty and the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington.