UO alum Thomas Hager receives prominent science writing award

This article was written by Emerald news intern Kyla Ramsey. She is a junior writing major at the Academy of Arts and Academics in Springfield, Oregon.

University of Oregon alumnus Thomas Hager recently received a prestigious writing award within the science community. The award, from the American Chemical Society, recognizes people with science backgrounds and their ability to convey complex ideas to others.

Hager said he wanted to write about science instead of doing lab work because he thinks it’s important for everyone to understand how science influences everyday life. This includes how cars work or how a building is built.

“All of these things that we take for granted … [are] really based on the scientific work,” Hager said. “I wanted to give people a greater appreciation for how important that is in their lives.”

Hager studied science and journalism at UO, which gave him the knowledge and the communication skills to present scientific ideas to the public, he said.

His most recent book, The Alchemy of Air, is about the development of synthetic fertilizer and surrounding technology in the 20th century.

Hager has published six other books focused on science. He has also written news articles, given lectures at universities and appeared on radio and television.

He said he’s honored to receive the award because it acknowledges people who write about science accurately, adding that inaccurate science literature is common.

“Right now the scientific decisions we’re making as a society — all of those really require careful, accurate communication,” he said.

Hager will receive his medal and certificate in April at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Francisco.

“It came as a very pleasant surprise,” Hager said. “It’s a significant honor for me.”

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