About the Author
My name is Dana Mackenzie, and I am a freelance science journalist with an interest in planetary science and especially the moon.
Writing is my second career, but it was my first love. As a kid, all I wanted to be was a writer. I wrote “books” that my mother typed up when I was as young as five. In fourth grade, when we were expected to write three or four reports during the year, I wrote a hundred and one! Clearly I had the writing bug at a young age.
I have also been a fan of space exploration since childhood. I was born in 1958, the same year that NASA was founded, and I grew up in the first (and maybe only) generation that really believed our future lay in space. The Apollo missions, I believed, were only the first step. When I was 10 years old, I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon. In fact, I avidly watched all of the lunar missions that I could. I think my favorite one was Apollo 15, with the incredible scenery of the Appenine Mountains and the Hadley Rille.
Nevertheless, as we all know, our future in space didn’t play out the way I expected it to. My career, too, went in a different direction. I always loved mathematics, and so I majored in math in college. I went on to earn a doctorate from Princeton, then taught math for six years at Duke University and seven years at Kenyon College in Ohio. I enjoyed it, but I have to say I never felt that teaching was my true calling.
In 1996, I found out about the Science Communication Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle clicked together. I could be a writer, as I had always wanted to be, and still make use of my knowledge of math and science. At UCSC I learned about journalism and made the contacts I needed to hit the ground running.
An internship at American Scientist in the summer of 1997 gave me some practical experience in writing and editing with a deadline. Since the fall of 1997, I have been a full-time freelance writer. Some of the magazines I have written for are Discover, Smithsonian, Science, and New Scientist.
An assignment that I wangled for Science magazine in 1998 put me back in touch with my long-dormant interest in the moon, and eventually led to the writing of my first book, The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to Be. For that story, click on “About the Book.”
I still live in Santa Cruz with my wife Kay, as well as a dog (Willie) and a cat (Pixel). My other interests include chess and hula dancing. I have been writing a chess blog called “dana blogs chess” since 2007, and I also give regular chess lessons at a website called ChessLecture. At this point I have no plans to start a hula blog, but you never know! For your amusement, here is another picture of me in my hula outfit — aloha shirt and a kukui-nut lei.