Acclaimed science writer highlights annual UND Paur Lecture
David Bjerklie has reported on science, medicine and environmental topics for Time Magazine, Time for Kids and Time Special Editions, among other publications.
GRAND FORKS — Renowned science communicator David Bjerklie is the keynote speaker for this year’s Glenn Allen Paur Lecture.
Set for 12:20 p.m. Friday in Chester Fritz Library Room 406, Bjerkle’s lecture is titled “13 Ways to Look at a Turkey: Opportunities and Responsibilities in Science Communication.”
Bjerklie, a Minot native who graduated from UND in 1976 with a biology degree, has reported on science, medicine and environmental topics for Time Magazine, Time for Kids and Time Special Editions, among other publications.
Other professional achievements include traveling to McMurdo and South Pole Stations in Antarctica in 2014 as a National Science Foundation Media Fellow. Bjerklie also was a Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow in 2015-16, and he is the author of several children’s books, including “Butterflies,” “Justice” and “Technology For All: Wi-Fi Around The World.”
Bjerklie, who also spoke at UND in 2015 as part of the Hagerty Lecture Series, said he’ll talk about his background and the road that led him to science writing as part of Friday’s lecture.
The UND Chapter of the Wildlife Society hosts the annual lecture to honor Glen Allen Paur, a UND biology student from Pisek, North Dakota, who died in a 1978 boating accident just days after graduation while assisting a UND professor with a research project on Leech Lake.
After graduating from UND, Bjerklie says he thought about going to graduate school but wasn’t sure what he wanted to pursue. Instead, he followed a girlfriend to Connecticut, where she was going to graduate school. He moved to New York City, headquarters of Time magazine, “shortly thereafter” and lived there until a recent move to Boston.
“I always thought I was going to use my biology background to write in some way,” Bjerklie said in a recent phone interview.
As a science writer, Bjerklie says he did some writing on medicine, but it wasn’t an area in which he wanted to specialize. Instead, he preferred focusing more on general science and the environment.
“Mine has been a very broad beat,” he said. “We had to do a little bit of everything at Time.”
Bjerklie left Time magazine in 2009 but still has connections with friends who work there. In recent years, he has written about special-topic issues for Time books, such as the science of sleep and the science of dogs.
That has been fun, Bjerklie says.
“I maintain that connection, but no longer do anything with the magazine,” he said. “I did a great stint with Time for Kids, which I loved. It was kind of our little sister magazine in the school system.”
Bjerklie, who has a house near Park Rapids, Minnesota, says he’s been able to get back to Grand Forks about once a year over the past decade. His dad grew up in Gilby, North Dakota, and his mom in Fosston, Minnesota.
“I still spend a good chunk of time in Park Rapids,” he said. “I love the Red River Valley. I haven’t been to the western part of (North Dakota) or even the central part of the state – I haven’t been to Minot for ages. I’m hoping I can get back this summer.”
Friday’s lecture is open to the public, and a reception is scheduled to follow the presentation. For more information, email brianna.ashworth@UND.edu .