The latest episode of Conversations with a Wannabe Scientist is now LIVE on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Podbean!

Season 02 (Communication) | Ep 03 | Sheeva Azma of Fancy Comma, LLC

In this episode, our host Nicole Felts interviews Sheeva Azma, owner of Fancy Comma, LLC. Sheeva is an MIT and Georgetown grad who spent 10 years as a cognitive neuroscience researcher.

In 2020, just a month before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Sheeva founded Fancy Comma, a science writing company that supports people and organizations in all sectors, including industry, nonprofit, academia, government, and the medical field.

Join us as we explore what a career is like as a science writer!

In this episode, Sheeva shares with us

  • How scientific literacy is the guiding light for her career

  • Making the transition from scientific research into science writing

  • Her reflections on sustainability as a freelance science writer

During this episode, we have in-depth conversations about

  • The importance of networking and connectivity in science careers

  • Diversity of ideas, community diversity, and workforce diversity

  • Adapting and learning as you do work in the field

From this episode, you can expect to learn

  • What the difference is between science journalism and science communication

  • How to tackle topics that scare you


2:21 - Sheeva talks about how she got into science writing

11:06 - Bridging the gap between science and SciComm

34:59 - Making science culture more inclusive and collaborative

42:02 - The role of scientists in policymaking

45:00 - Entrepreneurship as a science writer

49:31 - Sheeva's book and starting as a science writer

55:42 - Different types of science writing: content writing, copywriting (marketing writing), and science journalism

1:01:50 - What motivates Sheeva in her current work, and her current career goals

1:05:51 - Sheeva’s day-to-day routine and tools she uses to get work done

1:15:53 - The most exciting projects Sheeva’s worked on in the COVID-19 pandemic

1:21:59 - Important skills or traits needed in science writing

1:25:00 - Challenges as an independent business owner and freelancer

1:32:56 - Sheeva’s writing (and thoughts) on sustainability

Correction: at 1 hour & 41 minutes, Sheeva stated that Qatar was in OPEC, but as she later informed us via email, Qatar left OPEC in 2019. The full list of nations is here:

Connect with Sheeva

Sheeva’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Website

Fancy Comma’s Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Website

Sheeva's Work

Sheeva’s book, How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing

Science Writing Was Worth It. It Just Took Longer Than I Thought, The Xylom by Sheeva Azma

Scientists Push Back Against Retracted Nature Communications Study on Women Pls, The Xylom by Sheeva Azma

Does Brain Training Really Work?, The Motley Fool by Sheeva Azma

Resources Sheeva mentioned

Sheeva’s go-to freelancing tools: Recurpost, Ahrefs, QuickBooks, WordPress

MIT Knight School of Journalism handbook - The MIT KSJ Handbook contains helpful info for aspiring science writers, and specifically, science journalists.

Science’s Exclusionary Language: Why Jargon May Be Driving Away Your Audience, The Fancy Comma Blog, by Stephanie Paoli

For Effective Science Advocacy, Focus on Shared Values, and Speak Up Often, Union for Concerned Scientists Blog, by Sheeva Azma

Sheeva’s interview on the STEM-E Interviews podcast

The Open Notebook, a website dedicated to all things science writing

The Writers’ Co-op Podcast

The National Association of Science Writers, a trade organization for science writers

Free mentoring for aspiring journalists: Digital Women Leaders and Journalism Mentors

#SciCommChat, hosted by @SciCommClub, run by Nidhi Parekh

Resources Nicole mentioned

And, But, Therefore (ABT) Narrative Blitz - June 9th, 2021 - $10

And, But, Therefore creator: Randy Olson

29:35 University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Webinar: Changing Weather, Changing Farms, Opportunities to Reduce Chesapeake Harm

Disclaimer: At Conversations with a Wannabe Scientist, we are not endorsing people, products, or services unless a partnership or professional relationship is explicitly stated.

Thanks for tuning in! Stay tuned for new episodes every two weeks!

Special thanks to our amazing volunteer team

Brooke Christiansen, Website manager/designer & podcast logo creator

Stacey Davies, Podcast editor & sound designer

Paula Lee, Podcast assistant & show note designer

Nicole Felts, Podcast host/producer & project manager

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