Biography  

 

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An avid reader, I knew early on I wanted to leave small-town Ohio for life in the city. After college I moved to Washington, D.C., where I had entry-level jobs while completing an editing and publishing course at George Washington University. That training landed me a job at National Geographic, where I had the good fortune to work for its legendary art director, the late Howard Paine.

I left to get a master's in journalism at the University of Missouri. I developed a concentration in science writing, supported by a fellowship from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Over the years I have worked for several scientific and medical organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. After living and working in Indonesia in the late 1990s, I traveled regularly to Southeast Asia for a decade as a writer and editorial consultant for the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia, and the WorldFish Center in Penang, Malaysia.

My editorial career has included extensive freelance writing and editing. Over the years I've done contract work for several divisions of the National Geographic Society. Among the assignments, I wrote science stories and helped build the science content of the online National Geographic News. I also updated the last three editions of the Geographic's Traveler's Guide to Washington, D.C. Other work has included copy editing for The Washington Post, USA Weekly and, most recently, The Chronicles of Higher Education and Philanthropy .

Long active in the local literary community, I helped launch the online Washington Independent Review of Books in 2011 as a senior editor. Today I give tours monthly at the Library of Congress as a volunteer docent. Previously, I gave English-language tours at the National Museum in Jakarta and headed a museum committee that produced the Jakarta Explorer guidebook.

My current project is a book about Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, a 19th-century American journalist and travel writer who introduced the idea of planting Japanese cherry trees in Washington. I blog on the project at A Great Blooming. In 2012 I was awarded a Mayborn Fellowship in Biography, sponsored by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McGrath Morris and his wife, Patty.

In other major awards over the years, I spent a year in Cape Town, South Africa, on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship, and in 2007 I was named an outstanding graduate of Johns Hopkins University's M.A. in Writing program. I've had a short-term residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

I'm married to Bruce Parsell and we live in Falls Church, Va.


 
 
 
 
                                                      © 2008-16 by Diana Parsell. All rights reserved.