Fashioning the Future With: Hannah Needham

Image/Hannah Needham

Image/Hannah Needham

At Style Engineers Worldwide, we love all things #STEM and #SciComm, and wiggling watercress, Wonk! magazine's founder Hannah Needham is on the blog today! Wonk! is a fun, captivating, and educational resource that covers STEM topics along with fashion, beauty, and pop culture trends. We are all about that here, so, naturally, we are all about Wonk!

Wonk!'s first edition premiered in January, and you can download it from the Wonk! homepage and subscribe right there, too. To get a sense of what you'll get to read, the first issue covers everything from a writeup of Natalie Portman's STEM background to an article on both leopard print fashion trends and the evolutionary biology of the spotted felines — and much, much more.

Future editions of Wonk! will come out quarterly (both digitally and in print) in January, April, July, and October. We're already itching to read the April edition!

So, who is the brains behind the badass mag? The very rad Hannah Needham is the founder and chief editor of Wonk! She has her degree in Forensic and Applied Biology, and actually started Wonk! when she was still in college. She is an amazing science communicator, and we are thrilled to have connected with her at the start of Wonk!'s journey; we can't wait to see what's next (bonus: we asked Hannah just that, so read on to learn her plans for Wonk!).

Check out our Q&A below to find out how and when Hannah got the idea for Wonk!, what it's like running a magazine, and who her favorite fictional scientists are! Meet Hannah Needham, founder and chief editor of Wonk! magazine. 

When did you first know you were a scientist?

It actually took me quite a while to realise that I was a scientist. I was always a very curious child, stumping my parents with a million different how and why questions on a daily basis! But it wasn’t until my GCSE’s that I found out how much I loved Biology and came to the realisation that I wanted to pursue science. So, that was when my curiosity developed into a career in science.  

Image/ Wonk!  V1 cover

Image/Wonk! V1 cover

What do you love most about science communication?

I absolutely love that it brings anyone and everyone that little bit closer to science. I believe that everyone has some level of interest in science, even if they don’t know it, and science communication allows people to explore that interest through their favourite media, whether it be a video, blog, magazine, podcast or event!

Do you have a personal philosophy as a science communicator? 

Making sure that teenage girls don’t view science as ‘uncool’ and keep their minds open to a scientific career by showing its relevance to everyday life.

What is your favorite part about being involved the STEM community?

I love being able to meet and discover incredible people who are doing wonderful things to show how exciting science is. The STEM community is massively supportive of each other and it’s really great to be a part of.

When did you get the idea for Wonk!?  

I was actually on a road trip with my partner, discussing career goals, when I explained that my ultimate goal one day would be to produce my own magazine. I went on to say that I had noticed that all teen magazines were based around fashion, beauty and celebrities, but there wasn’t a science magazine directly aimed at teenagers. Having always been interested fashion, beauty and pop culture myself, this conversation quickly developed into the idea of Wonk! We realised that the formula for a good teen magazine could be applied to science, to create an interesting magazine that would be relevant to teenage girls. We decided that there was no reason to wait, and Wonk! came to life the next week.   

How did you come up with the ethos, voice, and structure of the website and magazine?

This all came together very naturally as we wanted to give Wonk! a personality that would be appealing to our demographic. Having consistency within the design and tone of the website and magazine was and still is very important to us, so we spent a lot of time developing it before even thinking about anything else. The outcome of this was a design that is easily recognizable as ours and suitable to our audience and a tone that was conversational and friendly, to keep our writing very down-to-earth and engaging.

What has been your favorite aspect about running Wonk!?  

There are so many things that I love about running Wonk!, but my favourite thing has to be knowing that there are so many people out there already reading, enjoying and learning from it. The response to the magazine has been absolutely overwhelming and I am still shell-shocked at the amount of people supporting us! I don’t think this will ever not be my favourite thing.

Image/Hannah Needham

Image/Hannah Needham

What future would you like to see for Wonk!?

I have so many plans for the future of Wonk! The main aim will always be to get as many girls interested in STEM as possible. In the distant future, I want to release a magazine monthly and hopefully one day, have it sold in shops. I would also like to be able to run events that take a similar spin on science communication, as well as offering tutoring services. In the near future, I would like to set up a YouTube channel, to have Wonk! communicate science through a different media… stay tuned!

Which scientists and science communicators (modern day and historical) inspire you?

There are so many incredible scientists who inspire me, but if I had to name some of my favourites, I would say; Soph Talks Science, A Short Scientist, Science on a Postcard, Dallas Campbell, Brian May, Alice Roberts, Tiera Guinn, Science Soph and The Curiosity Box. 

What advice do you have for young people who want to get into STEM?

I think that there is a lot of pressure on young people, forcing them to make life-long career decisions. The best advice I ever heard is to pursue what interests you the most and build a career around that. It may sound cliché to say that people who do what they love never have to work a day in their lives, but I have found this to be very true.

What are some of your hobbies you enjoy in your free time?

I have many hobbies, including cooking and baking, shopping, going to the gym, exploring, and watching films. I find that it’s very important to make time for them all, but I am very lucky, in that a lot of these hobbies are also represented in Wonk!, so I am able to merge them with my work.

Image/ Wonk!’ s super cool   logo

Image/Wonk!’s super cool logo

Do you have any favorite fictional scientist or scicomm characters in books/movies/other art forms?  

I absolutely love Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory, but aside from that they are mostly animated scientists from my childhood like Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama, Professor Utonium from the Powerpuff Girls and Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory!

If you were a superhero, what would your go-to wearable tech device be?

 It’s got to be a jet pack… I don’t think I would ever get over the ability to fly, it would feel so free, not to mention how much I’d save on travel costs!


Head on over to Wonk!'s website to subscribe and to read some awesome articles. Be sure to follow Wonk! on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify!

Kristen O. BobstComment