Mark Johnson joins the Washington Post as science editor


Announcement from National Editor Matea Gold, Associate National Editor Phil Rucker, Health and Science Editor Stephen Smith, Associate Health and Science Editors Carol Eisenberg and Tracy Jan, and Managing Editor of health and science assignments Katie Zezima:

We’re thrilled to announce that Mark Johnson is joining The Washington Post as a science writer, bringing his deep scientific knowledge and empathetic reporting to this important line of coverage.

Mark comes to the Post from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he has covered science and health for the past 14 years. He was part of a team of five journalists who won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Explaining Reporting for a gripping and richly reported account of doctors’ quest to use genetic technology to unravel a mysterious disease afflicting a 4-year-old child. This package fused narrative storytelling with videos and graphics to powerful effect. Mark was also a Pulitzer finalist in 2003, 2006 and 2014 for stories ranging from chronic emaciation in deer to rabies to gross anatomy. He also shared the Selden Ring, ASNE, IRE, Scripps Howard, APME and Gerald Loeb awards in 2014 for a series of investigations into the flaws in the country’s newborn screening programs. Mark has also demonstrated his agility in dealing with the latest scientific news, playing a leading role in covering the coronavirus pandemic. Before writing about science, he was a general duty reporter for eight years.

Prior to joining the Journal Sentinel, Mark worked for the Providence (RI) Journal-Bulletin, Haverhill (Mass.) Gazette, and Provincetown (Mass.) Advocate, where he recalls his first assignment covering a water commission meeting worn out in Truro. He also worked at the Rockford (Illinois) Register Star.

Mark, who is praised by colleagues for his collegiality and dedication to his craft, was born in New York and spent his youth in the North East and in England, where his mother was pursuing a doctorate in history. At Brookline High, just outside Boston, he worked on the school newspaper with future nighttime talk show host Conan O’Brien (the future comedian was editor; Mark was editor of entertainment). He holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Toronto and was a 2016-2017 O’Brien Scholar at Marquette University.

Mark’s wife, Mary-Liz Shaw, is a magazine editor and their son, Evan, has just started his career as a professional songwriter in New York. In his spare time, Mark enjoys birdwatching and once played guitar (badly, he swears) in a punk/grunge band in Rockford called The Bloody Stumps. Mary-Liz was the bassist. His climate apocalypse novel, “Though the Earth Gives Up,” was published in January.

Mark joins the Health and Science team in mid-July, and he and Mary-Liz plan to move to the Washington area later this year.