Thomas R. O'Donnell

About Thomas R. O’Donnell

I’m a former newspaper reporter and editor who stumbled into science writing and discovered he can do it pretty well. While at The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s largest newspaper, I was sent to the Ames news bureau, where I covered Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility ISU operates. ISU research intrigued me and I started reporting here and there on physics professors, biotechnology pioneers and psychology stars. The editors liked it and, more importantly, the researchers said I got it right.Thomas R. O'Donnell

After six years, I begged my way into the main newsroom as medicine and science reporter. I tromped through virtual reality environments and a former nuclear weapons assembly site, among other things, but I also wrote about insurance a little too much. That, burnout, and a general sense of restlessness led me to quit in 2000 and try my hand at freelancing. (With the way the newspaper industry has tumbled since then, I look like a genius, but it was just chance that led me to bail before layoffs, furloughs and budget cuts.) As a freelancer, I coauthored a book, “Stacking the Deck,” and wrote about biotechnology for ISU’s Plant Sciences Institute. I also got some regular work from Meredith Corp.’s integrated marketing arm and a few other sources. And I shot a pilot for an Iowa science program – my first attempt to highlight Iowa’s largely hidden science infrastructure.

Eventually, however, it was time to find a full-time job and I was lucky enough to get on with the Krell Institute. Our main thrust is computational science: using high-performance computers (like Summit) to attack problems in a range of science realms. That means I get to keep writing about all kinds of fields under the umbrella of computation.

If you have an Iowa-related science idea or observation, drop me a note. If you think I’ve screwed up or scored well, do the same. And remember: Views expressed here are my own and not those of the Krell Institute. Or anyone else, for that matter. Who’d be silly enough to claim them?

  1. In Iowa Daily Democrat the following paragraph appears.

    “Meanwhile, the infamous Koch Brothers say they and their network of anonymous donors will hedge their bets by spreading a planned $889 billion in contributions among several Republican candidates and organizations.”

    Would be good to have that billion corrected, in order not to scare the innumerate peasants too badly.

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