About Maris Fessenden

Hello! My professional focus is on surprising connections, nuanced conversation and change. I’m fascinated by the science and experience of life: from ecology to neuroscience to molecular biology. Hire me to craft stories with journalistic integrity, convey complex science-informed concepts visually or in writing, or manage creative projects.

I have 9+ years of experience as a freelance journalist, writing about science, art, culture, history, and more for digital and print publications, institutions, and organizations. My clients have included Smithsonian Magazine, Scientific American, Spectrum, NASA, Popular Science, Nature, Science, Western Confluence, and others. I have 3+ years of experience in instructional design, content creation, and creative project management.

My passion and talents shine when I use storytelling to imagine and create spaces—digital, conceptual, and visual—that are just, caring, memorable and meaningful. I seek to help balance humanity’s needs with those of the natural world that sustains us all.

I serve on the board of the Science Writers Association of the Rocky Mountains (SWARM). I’m also part of the Queer Bozeman Board, an organization strengthening and empowering the 2SLGBTQI+ community where I live.

I’ve advocated for voting rights and transgender rights in Montana, audited an instructional design course for e-learning from the University of Washington, completed the Facilitate for Freedom: Anti-oppression Facilitation Fundamentals and Uprooting White Supremacy in Organizations trainings with AORTA (anti-oppression resource & training alliance), and the Master Naturalist Course through Montana Outdoor Science School.

I was awarded a spot in the Emerging Leaders Program at SHIFT Summit 2022, which unites the spheres of public lands and public health.

When I’m not working, I am exploring the mountains, rivers, and valleys near my home in Bozeman, Montana, finding ways to dance and perform my joy. Or I’m home cooking, reading, learning, and spending time with loved ones.

My experience as a trans, non-binary, queer person who grew up in rural America teaches me to never assume I know where you come from or how that shaped your perspective. I listen, I learn, and I act from a place of empathy and care.

Here, I’m reporting on scientists examining a whitebark pine tree that recently emerged from snow and ice at 11,000 feet above sea level, above the modern-day treeline. Beartooth Plateau, MT.