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Forum Officers

Amanda Womac, President

amanda womac ut science forum president

Amanda Womac is a freelance science writer and nonprofit consultant. Amanda received a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga in 2003. She studied Science Journalism at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and received her M.S. in 2008. While attending graduate school, Amanda worked in the College of Engineering Communications where she had many opportunities to publish science-based articles in the College’s newsletter, annual reports and other publications. Amanda also interned at the Oak Ridge National Lab’s Spallation Neutron Source in 2008 and received her first international byline for a story titled “SNS Up and Spalling.”

After graduation, Amanda began working as a technical writer for the Hearing and Speech Foundation’s research and development program. She became Executive Director of the Foundation and served in that role until 2012 when she resigned to pursue her writing career. Amanda teaches public speaking at Lincoln Memorial University. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and past president of the East Tennessee Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She is the former editor and publisher of Hellbender Press, East Tennessee’s environmental newspaper.

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Sandra McLean, Vice President

sandra mcleanSandra McLean has worked as a science writing intern at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OCLF) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; AARP the Magazine (ATM) in Washington, D.C.; and the University of Tennessee Office of Communications in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her press releases, science news and feature articles have appeared on the websites of the Department of Energy, the National Association of Science Writers, ScienceDaily, the OLCF, the University of Tennessee and the UTK student news site, TNJN, as well as in the 2012-13 OLCF Annual Report, in AARP the Magazine, in Scoop Magazine, and linked in a New York Times science article.

Sandra has also competed in three national science and medical writing competitions.  In 2012, Sandra was one of ten student science writers to attend and report on the annual Beckman Initiative on Macular Research, selected by Barbara Culliton, former editor of Nature magazine. Sandra attended the discussion groups and wrote the summary on nanotechnology research. In February 2011, she was selected in the National Association of Science Writers competition as one of ten student journalists to receive a fellowship to attend and report on American Association for the Advancement of Science Convention. Sandra was a top ten finalist in the Collegiate Science Journalist competition October 2010 and won expenses to travel and interview collegiate inventors and a trip to Washington, D.C. for the awards ceremony.

Sandra’s goal is to continue to work in science writing, taking the important work of researchers, and sharing it with the public. Sandra holds a BS in Communication Studies with a concentration in Science Writing from the University of Tennessee.

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Mike Plummer, Secretary/Treasurer

Mike Plummer is a retired physicist who was raised in the little town of DeGraff, Ohio.  After graduating from Fenn College, a co-op school in Cleveland, he worked at the Naval Surface Weapons Lab in suburban D.C. for 15 years. After that, he worked at the Northrop-Grumman Research Labs in Los Angeles for 21 years. Most of his work has been in lasers, ranging from high powered weapon lasers to laser radars.  Mike has an M.S. degree in physics from the Catholic University of America in D.C.


Dr. Mark Littmann, Program Coordinator

dr. mark littmannDr. Mark Littmann is professor of journalism and electronic media and holds the Julia G. and Alfred G. Hill Chair of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Medical Writing. He received a B.S. in chemistry and literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.A. in creative writing at Hollins College, and a Ph.D. in English at Northwestern University.

Dr. Littmann’s most recent books are Totality: Eclipses of the Sun (3rd editions 2008, 2009, coauthors Fred Espenak and Ken Willcox; 2nd edition 1999, co-authors Ken Willcox and Fred Espenak; first edition 1991, co-author Ken Willcox); Planets Beyond: Discovering the Outer Solar System (1988, 1990, 2004); The Heavens on Fire: The Great Leonid Meteor Storms (1998, 1999); and Comet Halley: Once in a Lifetime (co-author Donald K. Yeomans, 1985). Planets Beyond won the Science Writing Award of the American Institute of Physics. Comet Halley won the Elliott Montroll Special Award of the New York Academy of Sciences. Both were also chosen by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific as Astronomy Books of the Year. The Heavens on Fire, Totality, and Planets Beyond were Astronomy Book Club selections.

Dr. Littmann received the College of Communication and Information Research Award in 2000 and Teaching Award in 2009. Before joining the journalism faculty in 1991, Dr. Littmann taught astronomy at Loyola College in Baltimore, astronomy and literature at the University of Utah and Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and literature and writing at Northwestern University. In Salt Lake City, he was director of the Hansen Planetarium from 1965 to 1983. He wrote and produced 35 planetarium programs, some of which are still performed worldwide.

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