You can reach me via email at svartan (at) gmail (dot) com
You can call me on my mobile at 203.219.5582
My Twitter handle is @thecurioushuman
I’m on LinkedIn too!
Graduate: I received a Master of Fine Arts in nonfiction writing from Columbia University (New York, NY).
Undergraduate: I graduated from Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY) with a Bachelor of Science in Geology with an Environmental Focus, a Bachelor of Arts in English, and a minor in Biology.
While in college I also co-founded and ran SPARC (Students Proactively Advocating Reproductive Choice) and spent a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain.
High School: I graduated from James I. O’Neill High School in Highland Falls, NY with honors.
And I have to give a shout-out: I’m a proud graduate of the Croton-on-Hudson Montessori School!
Pre-College: My first paid work was walking my neighbor’s dog when I was 11, and at 12 I started babysitting. My first legal paid job was as a page at my local library when I was 14, where I reshelved borrowed materials. I also read chunks of books that looked interesting in the corners, which was an excellent education—I dipped in and out of dozens of subjects and became even more enamored of all varieties of book. In high school I held a long-term job as an after-school nanny, and then worked as a server for banquets and weddings at the West Point Officer’s Club. By the time I was senior, I was running (setting up, serving, and cleaning up) for smaller events like rehearsal dinners of 20 people solo, as well as working larger events like weddings of 250+ with a team of 20 others. One summer I ran an ecology camp for 4-7 year-olds at Manitoga: The Russel Wright Design Center.
College: In addition to double-majoring in Geology and English, minoring in Biology, and founding and co-running a student pro-choice group, I had a number of jobs in college including making toasted sandwiches at a popular beer bar, serving at banquets, and processing soil samples at at a lab.
Figuring It Out Post-College: I got a job as an environmental geologist right out of college, but quit after I realized it was not the work I wanted to do. Then I worked doing environmental education for NYC kids at a camp in Northwestern Massachusetts; worked at a gym while I interned at two magazines; was a census worker; and assembled bespoke computers for an engineering company in Berkeley. (I was the only candidate they interviewed with experience using hand tools so they hired me. I was also the only woman who applied for the job.)
Career-Track: I worked as an editor for a non-profit in NYC, then as a writer for an animal-advocacy organization, while also writing a weekly food column and a monthly transportation column for my local alt-weekly in Connecticut (shout-out to the now-defunct Fairfield County Weekly), and writing freelance articles on health and conscious consumer products for E/The Environmental Magazine. I spent a couple of years co-writing screenplays for HBO, CBS, and the Discovery Channel (all scripts got sold, but none were produced, sadly). I was hired for that writing job due to my experience and passion for science and environment, and the scripts covered the topics of climate change, power-grid collapse, and the first human Mars colony. After leaving that job, I founded a blog, Eco-chick.com, that quickly became a leader in the early sustainable blogging space, earning both high readership numbers and awards, including one for being one of the best Style Twitter Feed in 2009. Yes, I did some early-days influencing too—including for AmEx and eBay, as well as lots of smaller brands.
As I got deeper into writing, I realized how passionate I was about the subject (less so about the influencing), and so I was thrilled when the Columbia University Master of Fine Arts program accepted me. In the summer between my first and second years of the MFA program, I wrote “The Eco-Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green” which was published in late 2008 by St. Martin’s Press. It got great reviews, including one from the New York Times’ Style section.
After I graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in nonfiction writing, I was the managing editor of Greenopia, a Zagat-style green guidebook for cities that offered fact-checked, verified ratings for sustainable businesses across the United States. I managed a large team of writers there, and discovered that I preferred to work more independently. Following that job, I pursued freelance writing, focusing on ethical fashion and design, and travel. I wrote for Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, and About.com’s Luxury Travel site, and was the editor-at-large for Coco Eco magazine and a contributing editor to Whole Living (Martha Stewart) on fashion and travel, and an editor and contributor at Metropolis magazine.
I had been slowly working my way back to my first love—science—for years, and so I turned the ship of my writing career, and transitioned back to covering some of my favorite subjects, including biotechnology, transportation and travel, environment, wildlife, and women’s health and justice issues in 2014. I’ve since written about Roe Vs. Wade for Vice, domestic violence and the law, and the long-term consequences of rape for Pacific Standard (those articles are now used in some college curricula). I also write memoir and essays, which have been published in The Candidly, Marie Claire, and the American Literary Review.
My science writing (see a more complete list here) includes regular contributions at Gizmodo, Mental Floss, and The Daily Beast; articles on wildlife bridges, beavers and salmon, cannibalistic salamanders, and the impact of wildfire smoke on wildlife for National Geographic; pieces for Scientific American on using AI to predict kidney failure, air-quality monitors, and other biotech articles; and coverage of mental health and wildlife for CNN’s science desk. In 2020 I completed an investigative reporting piece with a colleague for Undark magazine about government scientists, and I’m currently working on more investigative journalism, and a book.