Owen Duncan
Creative Assistance


Lake Cachuma in crisis

Lake Cachuma, August 2016

Whenever scientists communicate with people outside their specialized field, they walk a fine line between two hazards. On the one side, they risk being misunderstood or dismissed by an audience with a different knowledge base. Virtues in science writing (using technical language, avoiding synonyms, relying solely on arguments which appeal purely to the intellect) are vices when it comes to getting your message across to the general public. On the other side, there's the risk of losing your message by oversimplifying or distorting it to reach your audience.

I'm committed to finding a middle way, and with a master's degree in communications (University of Wisconsin, Madison 2009) I tread with confidence. My background in research, composition, and editing helps me accurately chart a coherent argument. My imagination and vocabulary help me choose the right words to reach the target audience.

Even when you’re not facing the challenge of communicating outside of your field, it’s always helpful to have someone else review your work. I offer editing services that run the gamut from basic copyediting to major content revision. I learned the foundation of my trade by working as a copyeditor for an academic journal and scholarly authors. Since then I’ve taught composition and graded student writing at major research universities. As a freelance editor, I’ve helped a diverse array of authors with a wide variety of non-fiction manuscripts. My own works as a writer on cultural studies have appeared in the academic quarterly New Review of Film & Television Studies.

I bring the same critical faculties and imagination that empower me as a writer to the task of making messages visual. As a graphic artist I try to make my work clear, bold, and appealingly human. I use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to create graphics, and take photos with my Nikon DSLR. I manipulate and organize my photos with Adobe Lightroom. I studied film at University of California, Santa Barbara (receiving my B.A. in Film Studies in 2006), and this has helped me make videos that are intelligible and aesthetically pleasing. I edit video with Adobe Premiere Pro, and I edit audio projects with Audacity.

I built this website from scratch by writing HTML & CSS in a simple text editor. Thanks are due to Lynda.com's amazing teachers for giving me the knowledge I needed to do so! Hopefully this site—and my web skills—will continue to improve and grow.