The Science of Kissing: Progress Update

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | August 26, 2009 4:40 pm

With less than five weeks to the kissing book deadline, I’ve just printed the entire manuscript for the first time. Until now I’ve been looking at limited sections as necessary to save paper, mostly working on the laptop.  Its composition has been a very different process from Unscientific America with Chris because this time around, I’m responsible for every interview, staying on schedule, and balancing the project with other commitments. Tomorrow I’ll head north to concentrate on editing, fact-checking, and overall structure. Blogging will continue and CM also returns next week.

It’s a bit strange to finally hold something that represents the culmination of countless hours of research and writing: A rather surreal experience when time and keystrokes suddenly become tangible. Metamorphosis. It’s been quite a journey so far and the subject is vastly more intriguing than I could have imagined. And yet, pouring over the manuscript feels a bit like ‘stopping by woods on a snowy evening‘…

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Comments (8)

  1. John Gilmore

    Dear Mr. Mooney,

    I was wondering if you would tell us about your academic credentials. Your bio for Discover mentions that you wrote a column for a Yale student paper so I assume you attended there, but what was your major? Have you done any graduate work in sciences, or another discipline?

    I have spent a few minutes googling and as far as I can tell your post-secondary education consists of a BA in English from Yale? If so did your undergraduate work contain any physical or biological sciences, engineering, math or statistics?

    And don’t you think it would be a good idea to include your academic credentials in your bio?


  2. Congratulations… and seriously, by the simple nature of the topic (and your communication skills), you probably have a bestseller on your hands — even all those otherwise scientific illiterates out there are interested in kissing! 😉

  3. Davo

    Good luck. Don’t forget to present the science rigorously and please remember how easy it is to mistakenly fall for adaptionist arguments (like “Dr” Sharon Moalem does)

  4. @3 Davo,

    Months ago, I read Sharon Moalem and Mary Roach side by side which was useful toward developing my own style and voice.

  5. Sven DiMIlo

    What are you pouring over your manuscript, maple syrup?

    (oh, you meant poring)


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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