Award-winning journalist and author Cynthia Barnett joins the Bob Graham Center for Public Service as Environmental Fellow in Residence.
Barnett is an environmental journalist who has covered water and climate stories worldwide, from the decline in Florida’s signature springs, to epic drought in California and Australia, to the rainiest place on Earth in Cherrapunji, India. She is the author of three books on water, including her latest Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, longlisted for the National Book Award, a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science writing, winner of the Gold medal in the Florida Book Awards for best general nonfiction and named among the best nonfiction books of 2015 by NPR’s Science Friday, the Boston Globe, the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald and others.
Barnett’s appointment is shared with UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, where she is Environmental Journalist in Residence and oversees student environmental reporting projects such as award-winning Blue Ether and the recent series Energy Burden. She will continue to teach in CJC and will begin teaching courses for the Graham Center’s public leadership minor. Barnett will also help lead student environmental initiatives and team up across disciplines with UF faculty and students who are working to improve public understanding of complex environmental issues such as climate change.
She continues her journalistic work including her new book, a global history of humanity and seashells in which nature’s most-beloved object tells the story of our imperiled oceans. She also publishes stories and columns in National Geographic, the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Discover magazine, Salon, Politico, the Huffington Post, Orion, Ensia, and others. Previously, she was senior writer at Florida Trend magazine for 15 years, covering statewide public policy and investigative stories.
Barnett’s first book, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., began as her master’s thesis in the UF Department of History. It won the gold medal for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards and was named by the Tampa Bay Times as one of the top 10 books that every Floridian should read. Her second book, Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, a call for a water ethic for the United States, was a Boston Globe top 10 science book of 2011 and has been chosen for community and college reads across the nation.
Her numerous journalism awards include a national Sigma Delta Chi prize for investigative magazine reporting and eight Green Eyeshades, which recognize outstanding journalism in 11 southeastern states. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in American history with a specialization in environmental history, both from UF, and spent a year studying water as a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. She is a fifth-generation Floridian raising a sixth-generation with her husband in Gainesville.