Bio But enough about me.

Take me back:
to the archive!
to the bio!
to the e-mail!

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Q: Hey Kara, what’s up with this “nerd for hire” thing?

A: I’m a journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I particularly like to write about science, or anything else that’s complicated and nuanced and sort of geeky.

Q: What's new?

A: I'm writing a book! It's called REAL: Adventures on the Cutting Edge of the Science of Perception, and it will be out in fall, 2015 from Basic Books. You can follow my reporting adventures @KaraPlatoni on Twitter. I'll be Tweeting from the road, the lab and wherever else this mad thing takes me. The rest of the time, I am glued to my sofa, typing and covered in Dorito crumbs.

Q: Did you go to school for this, or did you just unleash yourself on the public?

A: I graduated from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism in 1999.

Q: Then what?

A: I was a staff writer at the East Bay Express, an alt-weekly newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area, for eight years. I covered just about everything — science and technology, medicine, crime, politics, in-depth profiles of interesting people. I like to tell people I worked the "Nancy Drew beat" — I'd pursue anything that involved a good mystery, an action adventure, and some fantastic characters.
I then spent two years as the Senior Editor at environmental magazine Terrain, a project of Berkeley's Ecology Center. I've also been teaching at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism focusing on hyperlocal East Bay coverage and innovative digital storytelling.

A few years ago, I launched a nerdly science podcast with my most excellent compatriots Eric Simons and Casey Miner. It's called The Field Trip Podcast and it's about science in the real world, outside of the lab.We're on hiatus for now, but you can still download our episodes for free at For friendly publications that would like to broadcast or share it, you can also find it on the Public Radio Exchange.
You can also commune with us on Facebook or as @FieldTripLog on Twitter.

Related: You can find Eric's awesome new book about your brain on sports here: (The Secret Lives of Sports Fans.)

Q: Do you freelance?

A: Yes indeed.

Q: How can people hire you?

A: They can e-mail me at: karaplatoni [at] gmail [dot] com.

Q: Who did the awesome artwork for this site?

A: The lovely Mike Smith.

Q: What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?

A: I was a founding board member for the Office of Letters and Light, the Oakland-based arts and literacy non-profit that runs National Novel Writing Month. Every year a couple hundred thousand people from around the world attempt to write 50,000-word novels in the month of November, and thousands more attempt to write 100-page scripts in April.

Q: Did you write one, too?

A: Yep! So far I have written 10 mostly awful novels and 4 totally terrible screenplays during NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy.

What else do you do?


Q: Can you kill people with your mind?

A: Sadly, no.


Q: Um, one more thing …

A: Have I ever won any awards? Surprisingly, yes! Here are a few:

• AAAS Science Journalism Award, 2008, (from the American Association for the Advancement of Science) for "In Search of Life," a two-part series exploring the ultimate question: Are we alone in the universe? Part one, about astrobiology, can be found here. Part two, about planet-hunting, is here.

• Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California, Best Feature, 2007 for “
Dealing in Death,” an investigation of one of the most prolific sellers of crime guns in the nation.

• CASE Awards Silver Medal, “Best Articles of the Year,” 2007 for “Love at First Byte,” a profile of computer science pioneer Donald Knuth.

• Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Award, First Place, Fashion & Design, 2006 for “What A Steal,” a sneak peak into the world of counterfeit “purse parties.”

• Association for Women in Communications Clarion Awards, First Place, Newspaper Feature Story, 2005 for “The $10 Million Woman,” the strange travels of a Picasso after it was looted by the Nazis during World War II.

• Association for Women in Communications Clarion Awards, First Place, Newspaper Feature Story, 2004 for “The Making of a Martyr,” about the life and death of Holly Patterson, the first American woman to die after taking RU-486 (medical abortion), and the political uproar surrounding her death.

• Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists, 2004 for “The Making of A Martyr,” “I, Robot” and “It’s a Boy, We Made Sure of It,” articles on medical abortion, robotic exoskeletons, and gender selection for babies.

• Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards, Finalist, Arts and Entertainment, 2003 for “It Was A Dark and Stormy Month…” an up-close look at the year that National Novel Writing Month broke.

• California Teachers Association, John Swett Award for Media Excellence, 2002 for “The Queen Must Go,” an investigation of a controversial school district superintendent.

• Western States Magazine Association, Finalist, Best Interview or Profile, 2002 for “2C-T-7’s Bad Trip,” a profile of pyschedelic chemist Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin.

• Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California, Outstanding Young Journalist, 2002

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All content copyright Kara Platoni. Please contact for permission before reproducing.