I am a scientist-turned-writer and the author of books that encourage kids to explore science and nature. My titles include the award-winning picture book, Plants Can't Sit Still; nonfiction books about nature's wild side, like When Plants Attack: Strange and Terrifying Plants; and books that take on real-world issues, like The Monarchs Are Missing: A Butterfly Mystery and Where Have All the Bees Gone? Pollinators in Crisis. My books have been NCTE Notable, Junior Library Guild, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. In addition to my books, my science articles for kids have appeared in magazines like Muse, Odyssey, and Spider.
Before becoming a full-time writer, I earned a Ph.D. in cellular & molecular biology and worked as a plant biologist. I live with my family in Pennsylvania's Appalachian Mountains. In between writing deadlines, you can find me planting gardens, baking bread, and exploring the nearby mountains with my dog, Sadie.
For the press: Please find a short press-ready bio here.
I was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, the second of four children. When I was eight, my family moved to 45 acres in the western Pennsylvania countryside. I spent my childhood roaming woods and fields, splashing in streams, and climbing trees. Nature fascinated me.
I graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in biochemistry. I received my Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Wisconsin, where I researched how plants sense and respond to their environment. After graduate school, I worked as a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Wisconsin and Penn State University.
Since 2004, I have been a professional writer. My first book for children, on polar bears, was published in 2008. To date I have authored more than eighty books on science and discovery, ranging from picture books to nonfiction for teens.
When I'm not writing, I plant gardens, cook and bake, and explore the woods near my home in State College, Pennsylvania. I have a dog named Sadie, a cat named Cleo, and a small flock of backyard chickens. My favorite people to spend time with are my husband, musician Rick Hirsch, and our three children, Anna, Eva, and Ellie.
One of the things I love about being a writer is that I am always learning something new about the world of nature. I love sharing what I am learning with my readers.
Interviews, blog posts, and more
If you want to learn more about me or my writing, you can…
Read my answers to some questions frequently asked questions
See a list of awards my books have won.
Visit my author's page at Lerner Books.
Read this author interview on Nancy Sanders' Blogzone (January 2014).
See an interview in my hometown paper, The Centre Daily Times (State College, PA) (July 2014).
Check out this author interview with Sue Heavenrich on GROG Blog (September 2016).
Read my Authors for Earth Day Blog post on writing Birds vs. Blades? (December 2016).
Read an author Q&A on the Lerner Books blog (July 2016).
See my blog post, "Nonfiction truths," on Tara Lazar's StoryStorm 2017 (January 2017).
I love to connect over books! Find me on Goodreads.