Scientific American Names First Female Editor-in-Chief

mariette.jpg Longtime science journalist Mariette DiChristina has been named the first female editor-in-chief of Scientific American in the magazine’s 164-year history.

DiChristina, who joined the magazine in 2001 as executive editor, has been serving as acting editor-in-chief since her predecessor, John Rennie, left in June. Although she admits to feeling a sense of responsibility as the venerable mag’s first female leader, DiChristina seemed humbled by our sense of awe in her accomplishments.

“I have two young daughters; one of them wants to be a scientist, and the other one wants to be the editor of Scientific American,” she told FishbowlNY. “I think anybody who is a position of leadership should feel a sense of responsibility. And I don’t know if mine is any greater or less because I’m a first for the magazine. I know I’m very honored and grateful.”

DiChristina, who has worked in science journalism for over 20 years, also downplayed the experience of working as acting editor for the past few months. When we asked if it had been a “trial period” of sorts, she said, “In a sense, every magazine editor, every publication editor, is there to please the readers. Every article I do, every story I put out, is always a trial. Every editor who is working should be living in terror that they are not pleasing their readers. In that sense, the last several months was a trial in the way any day in the office is a trial.”

In her new role, DiChristina will oversee Scientific American as well as Scientific American Mind, a bimonthly magazine that focuses on the brain and behavior that she herself helped launch. Before joining Scientific American, DiChristina worked for nearly 14 years on the edit staff at Popular Science, working her way up to executive editor there. She is also the president of the National Association of Science Writers.

Full release after the jump

Scientific American appoints Mariette DiChristina Editor-in-Chief

Scientific American, the leading science magazine, today announces Mariette DiChristina as its new Editor-in-Chief. DiChristina becomes the eighth Editor-in-Chief in the 164-year history of the magazine, and the first woman to assume the role. In her role, DiChristina oversees the print and online editions of Scientific American and Scientific American Mind, as well as all newsstand special editions.

Mariette DiChristina is based in the Scientific American offices in New York City and takes up her position with immediate effect, reporting directly to Nature Publishing Group Managing Director Steven Inchcoombe. Announcing her appointment, Inchcoombe said, “I am delighted to confirm Mariette as Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American. Mariette has always performed strongly and has been doing an especially great job over the last six months. She was the natural choice to lead Scientific American’s editorial team and I look forward to working together with her to develop Scientific American to increase its impact and its value to its readers across all media.”

DiChristina has been Acting Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American since June 2009, when outgoing Editor-in-Chief John Rennie left the publication to pursue new opportunities. A science journalist for more than 20 years, DiChristina first came to Scientific American in 2001 as its executive editor, a position she held until her current appointment. DiChristina also served as the editor of Scientific American Mind, a publication she launched, and started. Prior to joining Scientific American, DiChristina spent nearly 14 years at Popular Science in positions culminating as executive editor. DiChristina is the current president (in 2009 and 2010) of the 2,500-member National Association of Science Writers.

“Scientific American, at nearly 165, is as vital as ever as the world’s premier source for advances in science and technology and how they shape our world. It is a privilege to help shepherd Scientific American’s future,” said DiChristina.

Described by The Chronicle of Higher Education as “probably the [United States’] most venerable source of science news written for a general audience,” Scientific American delivers authoritative and thought-provoking content to more than 3 million readers worldwide. Founded in 1845, Scientific American has over its history published articles by more than 140 Nobel laureate authors including Albert Einstein, Francis Crick, Stanley Prusiner and Richard Axel. Scientific American became part of Nature Publishing Group (NPG) in 2009, after many years as a sister Holtzbrinck organization.

DiChristina’s predecessor John Rennie was quick to congratulate her on her appointment: “Having worked side-by-side with Mariette for eight years, and having watched the great job she’s done in recent months, I am more sure than ever that no one could be a better editor-in-chief for Scientific American. Mariette is a dynamic, brilliant editor and manager, and she will do terrifically well leading Scientific American forward and helping it thrive.” Rennie serves as a Contributing Editor for Scientific American, and continues to edit and consult on features and news for the magazine.