Danika and Mike Bannasch on their farm with their dogs

Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis

Telling Science Stories

by | Apr 26, 2021 | Office Hours, Spring/Summer 2021

After nearly a decade as a scientist, Theanne Griffith decided to simultaneously pursue another longtime passion: storytelling.

In 2020, she became a published children’s book author with the release of The Magnificent Makers series, chapter books — three so far — for kids ages seven to 10. She also moved to California to take a new position as assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology at UC Davis.

The two professions go hand in hand, she said.

“From the beginning of my scientific training, I was taught to write well, to convey my data as a story,” she said. “I saw these books as a way to get kids excited about science, to show kids that diverse people can be good and excited about science, and then incorporate all of that into the joy of reading.”

Griffith, who started at UC Davis in October and investigates how our nervous system encodes thermal bodily sensations like heat and cold, resolved to fulfill a dream of becoming a writer shortly after the birth of her first daughter, Violeta, now 3. (She’s pictured with daughter Lila, 2, above.) After a few initial attempts, Random House Children’s Books came calling.

“I wanted kids to be transported to this magical science place and go on science challenges,” she said of the books, which include activities kids can do at home. “I really wanted to tap into that imaginative side of things.”

The fourth and fifth stories are slated for release in 2021 and 2022, respectively.