Please, don’t call me a scientist.
Unlike millions of trained researchers all over the world, each sifting data from the Universe, pushing the boundaries of collective human knowledge, I don’t add anything new.
I’m not just being humble, either. I take great pride in being a story teller, collecting ideas and shaping them to suit the needs of different audiences. I stand on the edge of two worlds, sharing what I see. It's an important job in many ways, and I don't take it lightly.
That’s not to say I don’t know a thing or two about science. More than twenty years ago I worked in a hospital medical laboratory, analysing body fluids with as much glee as one could have when looking at urine down a microscope. I have a passion for anatomy, disease, and medicine. More recently I completed studies on medical anthropology and the culture of health and medicine.
My real passion has been in education, so I left pathology to earn myself a teaching degree, taking to London’s notorious East End to teach science to begrudgingly curious adolescents. That was promptly followed by a year entertaining children across Australia as a part of Questacon’s Science Circus.
While I’m perfectly at home in front of classrooms and lecture halls, fate eventually pulled me to the keyboard. I’ve been writing about science in various forms for over a decade, producing educational materials, news items, and museum displays for a broad range of organisations. I’ve been an editor, illustrator, and writer for the CSIRO’s Double Helix publications; produced award-winning online digital materials for the Australian Government; interviewed the likes of Neil de Grasse Tyson and Richard K. Morgan for ABC Radio National; and written panels for a touring T. Rex exhibit on behalf of the Australian Museum.
In 2011, I wrote Tribal Science: Brains, Beliefs & Bad Ideas (UQP), a book about how the social wiring of the human brain accidentally evolved to do a little thing called science. In 2018, UQP published my second book titled Unwell: What makes a disease a disease?
Today, I’m a writer and weekend editor for the online news service ScienceAlert, while still continuing to contribute to a variety of science news and education publications.
And sorry (not sorry), I’m still not a scientist.
"Mike McRae has been writing science for over a decade, working with CSIRO, the ABC, and the Australian Museum to educate, inform, and entertain. His interest in the social side of science features in his books Tribal Science: Brains, Beliefs, and Bad ideas, and Unwell: What makes a disease a disease?"