About the team

About Us

The Why Files was created at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the auspices of National Institute for Science Education with support from the National Science Foundation. It is currently funded through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each week, we bring you a new story on the science behind the news.

The Team

Terry Devitt, editor

Terry Devitt is a co-founder and editor of The Why Files. He also directs Research Communications for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. An experienced science writer, his by-line has appeared in such venues as Astronomy, Orion, Electronic Learning, the children’s magazine Muse, the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, The Bulletin of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Wisconsin Academy Review.

S.V. Medaris, designer / illustrator

Sue has been with the The Why Files since fall, 1999. She also works as a fine artist, at Market Weight Press on her farm in Southwestern Wisconsin. Represented by Artisan Gallery in Paoli, WI, she has work in private and public collections throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has averaged one solo show per year since 2004 (each of them focused on domestic animal husbandry: A One Chick Show, The Lives of Farm Dogs, The Tunnel of Mortality…).

Alumni staff of The Why Files:

Yael Gen, graphic artist (inception to May 1999)
Joe Kallenberger, intern (Jan 1998 to unknown)
Susan Trebach, spiritual advisor (inception to Oct 1998)
Jenny Pearson, project assistant (Aug 2000 to Aug 2001)
Eric Zuelow, project assistant (May’99 to Aug’00, Sep’01 to Dec’01)
Pamela Jackson, project assistant (Aug 2001 to Jul 2002)
Sarah Goforth, project assistant (Sep 2002 to Aug 2004)
Megan Anderson, project assistant (Aug 2004 to Sep 2008)
Nate Hebert, project assistant (Oct 2008 to Sep 2009)
Steve Furay, project assistant (Sep 2009 to Jun 2010)
Jenny Seifert, project assistant (Jun 2010 to Jan 2012)
Molly Simis, project assistant (Jan 2012 to Aug 2012)
Emily Eggleston, project assistant (Aug 2012 to May 2013)
Amy Toburen, co-founder and former content development executive (inception to 2013)
Yilang Peng, project assistant (May 2013 to June 2013)

Yilang Peng, project assistant

Yilang is a master’s student studying journalism at UW-Madison, with a dual focus on digital journalism and science communication. His primary role at the Why Files is to help the team tell their stories through graphics and photos and to produce the Cool Science Images feature. In his spare time, he enjoys street photography, bicycling, urban exploration and blogging.

Kevin Barrett, project assistant

Kevin assists The Why Files in all things visual and manages the website’s Cool Science Images. He is also pursuing a Ph. D. in botany at UW-Madison, which keeps him busy between peering through his microscope and exploring exotic peat bogs.

Darrell Schulte, webmaster

Darrell has been with The Why Files since its arrival on the web. He is an English major but knows enough about computers to be dangerous. You can peer into his mind at @darrell_schulte. Good luck with that.

David J. Tenenbaum, feature writer

David has written about science, health and environment for Technology Review, Environmental Health Perspectives, Bioscience, The Los Angeles Times, and other publications. In 2009, he and Terry Devitt wrote The Why Files: The Science Behind the News (Penguin). Fascinated by science and technology, David can also swing a hammer: He wrote and photographed The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Home Repair – Illustrated (Penguin-Putnam), the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Toolbox Manual (Thomson Peterson’s), and other how-to books. Nicknamed “Atlas” because he knows the biking roads, he’s been Why-Filing since the Big Bang.