Henry Bortman

Expertise: Science writer, editor
Expedition Role: Science writing, Education and Public Outreach
Affiliation: Astrobiology Magazine

I am a science writer and the managing editor of Astrobiology Magazine (www.astrobio.net), a NASA-sponsored website. The path that has led me to being a participant in High Lakes 2006 is not a traditional one of university-based academic science. Rather, you could say that communications, in various forms, is the thread that runs through my life.

I was born in 1950, and grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. After attending a bit of college at the University of Chicago, I traveled around the country in a painted school bus for a while - it was the early 70s - and ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I worked for the alternative newspaper, The Berkeley Tribe, and later as a news and public-affairs program producer at KPFA-FM, a progressive radio station in Berkeley.

In the early 1970s I went back to college, earned a degree in telecommunications and went to work at Sprint as a computer programmer. But I got bored with that, and in the early days of the Macintosh, I became fascinated with personal computers. That led me to an eventual job as an editor and technical director at MacUser magazine.

When MacUser merged with its rival, Macworld, it was time to move on. I had always been an avid reader of popular science books and magazines, so I decided to branch out into science writing. I feel very lucky that my job gives me the opportunity to talk with scientists who are making exciting discoveries about life on Earth and the possibility of life on other worlds. I enjoy figuring out how to explain their work to the public. When I tell people what I do for a living, they often say, "They pay you to do that?"

I also enjoy outdoor activities: hiking, backpacking, rafting, kayaking. So I'm thrilled that I will get to combine my job with one of my favorite pastimes, by tagging along with the High Lakes 2006 team and reporting on their activities from the field.