Simon Makin

Science Journalist

Simon Makin is a freelance science journalist based in London, specialising in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and mental health. He also covers the life sciences more broadly, and technology where it intersects with mind or health. His work has appeared in Scientific American Mind, Scientific American, New Scientist, Nature, The Economist, Spectrum, and more, online and in print. He is also available for freelance copy editing work.

Neuroscience & Psychology

Reporting on cutting-edge developments in neuroscience; both the technologies involved and the understanding of brain and behaviour they elicit. I also cover important or interesting findings from psychology that help illuminate the mind, thought, emotion, or perception.

Mental Health

I hope to dispel stigma and raise awareness by communicating clearly the complexities of mental health. I have written often on topics ranging from psychiatric genetics and computational psychiatry, through new therapies, to neurodegenerative disease.

Molecular Biology & Genetics

In covering these topics I picked up a fair amount of molecular biology and genetics. I have put this to good use covering a wide range of health stories, from the influence of the gut microbiome on fitness, to the future of cancer treatment through multi-omics.

Examples of My Work

Below you will find several of my articles, as laid out in print publications. Mostly full length features, together with a couple of long news items and a teensy mini-feature.

On the right (below, on mobile) is a list of selected online articles, spanning most of my career. Primarily news items, with a couple of features. The first is a “guest blog” I had published before landing my first paid gig, which remains a piece I’m particularly proud of.
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Articles in print

Selected Online Articles

Scientific American Guest Blog, “The Story of a Lonely Brain” 1 October 2012

Scientific American Mind, News, “To predict success in children, look beyond willpower” 1 March 2013

New Scientist, News, “Memory drug trialled in people with Down’s syndrome” 11 April 2013

New Scientist, News, “Ketamine-like drug lifts depression without the trip” 15 October 2013

The Economist, News, “The 3% Solution” 10 May 2014       

Nature, News, “Running cures blind mice” 27 June 2014

New Scientist, News, “Sleeping brains can process and respond to words” 11 September 2014

Scientific American, News, “A Red Flag for a Neurodegenerative Disease That May Be Transmissible” 1 September 2015

Horizon magazine, News Feature, “How conscious are you?” 18 December 2015

Scientific American, News, “Tall Order–Heights in Other Countries Elevate but U.S. Stature Tops Off” 1 August 2016    

Scientific American, News, “”Neural Dust” Could Enable a Fitbit for the Nervous System” 8 August 2016   

Scientific American, News, “Fountain of Youth? Young Blood Infusions “Rejuvenate” Old Mice” 21 April 2017        

Spectrum, Feature, “From 0 to 60 in 10 years” 27 June 2017

Scientific American, News “An Inner Look into the Minds and Brains of People with OCD” 4 October 2017

Scientific American, News, “ ‘Bar Codes’ Could Trace Errant Brain Wiring in Autism & Schizophrenia” 30 March 2018  

The Economist, News, “Do adult human brains renew their neurons?” 14 April 2018

Scientific American, News, “Prosthetic Limb Restores a Sense of Body Position” 1 August 2018

Scientific American, News, “A Blood Test for the Body’s Clock” 1 January 2019

Scientific American, News, “Behind the Buzz: How Ketamine Changes the Depressed Patient’s Brain” 12 April 2019

Scientific American, News “Can an Illusory World Help Treat Psychosis’s Real-World Delusions?” 2 August 2019

Scientific American, News, “How Coronaviruses Cause Infection—from Colds to Deadly Pneumonia” 5 February 2020   

Scientific American, News, “Hypnosis Experts Cast Doubt on Famous Psychological Experiments” 21 October 2020                  

Simon Makin has a PhD in computational modelling, an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism, and many years experience as a freelance science journalist.
Simon Makin
Science Journalist

Biography

Originally from Liverpool, I did a B.Eng. in Electronics at the University of Reading, before working in the psychology department there, investigating how human hearing compensates for environmental distortions. I then did a master’s in Speech and Hearing Sciences at UCL, before moving back up North to do my PhD at the University of Sheffield. My thesis was in computational auditory scene analysis, specifically modelling how the auditory system exploits pitch differences to separate mixed speech. I then went back to Reading psych dept., introduced my boss to my PhD supervisor, and together we assembled a project researching how human hearing copes with room acoustics in order to improve machine listening in the real world.

In short, I have degrees from engineering, phonetics and linguistics, and computer science departments, and spent several years working in a psychology department. All of which gave me an ideal multi-disciplinary background for a science writer, and means I understand how science works, from methods to culture. Writing was always my biggest passion though, so…

At the start of 2012 I jumped ship on academia and moved to London to retrain as a journalist, doing a fast-track NCTJ Diploma in Newspaper Journalism at Lambeth College, including brief stints at The Independent and The Lambeth Weekender. Once set loose upon the world, without ever making a conscious decision to specialise, I naturally drifted into my current brain-themed beat due to a mixture of interest, contacts, and opportunity. I will always be grateful to the editors who commissioned and nurtured me along that journey. You know who you are.

I am a member of the Association of British Science Writers, from whom I won a bursary in 2016 to attend the Centre for Investigative Journalism’s summer school – an exhilarating experience I’d recommend to any journalist of any stripe. I am also a member of science writers’ group, Neuwrite, London, and am a mentor in their mentorship scheme for aspiring science writers from underrepresented groups in science journalism.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss a writing project, commission me for science news or feature writing, or hire me for copy editing work. I’m always interested in working for new outlets. I am now based in SE London.

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Contact me

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