Olive Heffernan freelance environmental writer

Olive started her career as a marine biologist, researching cod fisheries in the North east Atlantic.  Like most science writers, she realised fairly early on that she was more drawn to writing or talking about science than to spending her days in the lab. For her, it was a compulsion to communicate a fact that she faced daily in her research – the vast overexploitation of species, and resources, worldwide. So a couple of years into her research career, she jumped ship and started writing.


Soon afterwards, she became Chief Editor of The Marine Scientist, a London-based magazine serving the marine research community and published by The Institute of Marine Research, Science and Technology. She then joined Nature, as a web-based editor covering climate change and as editor of Nature’s Climate Feedback blog, which was part of the Guardian Environment Network. From there, she launched Nature Climate Change , becoming the journal’s first Chief Editor in 2010. She is now freelance and has written for publications including Nature, Nature Climate Change, New Scientist, Scientific American, Yale Environment 360, National Geographic News, and The Guardian.


As well as her written work, which these days mostly consists of feature articles – and some news – Olive has spoken about climate change on podcasts and on video for Nature and the Guardian. For the past decade, she has given presentations at research institutions and at conferences globally, in Europe, Asia and the US. Recently, Olive has worked with the organisation COMPASS  to train scientists in communicating more effectively with the media.


Olive is a massive foodie and enjoys cooking and consuming food that is both healthy and sustainable for the planet. It’s a constant but very rewarding challenge! She also loves the outdoors. Olive lives in Dalkey, Co. Dublin with her husband, Rupert, and their two children.


Olive is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where she received 1st class honours in Zoology in 1999, and of University College Dublin, where she was awarded a PhD in Marine Ecology in 2002 for her research on Irish Sea fisheries. Olive was the first recipient of the Bob Barton Memorial Prize for marine science writing in 2006, and is a former journalism fellow of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. She is a member of the Institute of Marine Science, Technology and Engineering, the Association of British Science Writers and AAAS.