Author Diana Parsell

Photo by Suz Redfearn

Diana (Pabst) Parsell, like the subject of her forthcoming book, was born in the American Midwest and made Washington, D.C., her adopted home.

Other parallels with Eliza Scidmore: working for National Geographic and extensive travel in Southeast Asia.

She started her career at National Geographic magazine and returned later as a contract writer for several divisions. She has also been a writer and editor for other publications and for science organizations in Washington and Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post,, Humanities, Science News, Washingtonian and the Washington Independent Review of Books, among others. 

Parsell attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and was named an outstanding nonfiction graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s master’s in writing program. She received two major awards in support of her book project: a Mayborn Fellowship in Biography and BIO’s Hazel Rowley Prize. Previously she also had fellowships from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and Rotary International, and a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Before the pandemic, Parsell lectured on Scidmore and D.C.’s cherry trees to diverse audiences, and gave public tours of the Library of Congress as an outgrowth of her many years of research there. She lives with her husband, Bruce, in Falls Church, Va., where their front porch is a popular hangout for neighbors.


“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”