A Day in the Life of Nsikan Akpan

Nsikan Akpan is the digital science producer for PBS NewsHour and cocreator of the NewsHour digital series ScienceScope. ScienceScope, which won the 2016 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Silver Award in the television spot news / feature reporting category, takes a deep dive into the process of scientific discovery, exploring the nitty-gritty in short, digestible, music-filled video bites. When he isn’t taking rides to the ocean floor or watching the shapes of smells for ScienceScope, Nsikan writes and edits for the NewsHour website and works on social media projects such as science-based Facebook Live, Snapchat, and Instagram stories. He was elected to the board of the National Association of Science Writers in September 2016. His two-year tenure will include helping to organize the 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists. Prior to his joining NewsHour, Akpan’s work appeared at NPR.org and in Science, Science News, Scientific American, Newsweek, and elsewhere. He holds a doctorate in pathobiology from Columbia University and is an alum of the science communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Follow him on Twitter @MoNscience.


Matthew Ehrichs

Nsikan Akpan


What I’m working on:

These days, I write, edit, and cocreate a video series called ScienceScope for the PBS NewsHour.

Where I work:

NewsHour sits just outside the Village at Shirlington—the somewhat mysterious name for a shopping center in south Arlington, Virginia. We’re a hop, skip, jump, and 35-minute bike ride from Washington, DC, which is where I keep all of my personal belongings.

Megan Crigger

Akpan interviews Oliver Steeds, Nekton Mission director, onboard the Baseline Explorer off the coast of Bermuda.

Daily routine:

Wake up at 5:00 a.m., check the news and carve out my battle plan for the day. I hit the gym around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and then bike or take the metro to the office. We have morning meetings at 9:30 and 9:45 a.m., where we pitch and review the contents for our news coverage online and on the show. Eighty percent of my gig involves producing content for the website, while the remainder comprises my contribution to ScienceScope (script writing, story selection, on-camera work) and occasional assistance with broadcast interview segments. I head home around 6:30 p.m.

Most productive part of my day:


Most essential ritual or habit:

Bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch in the morning. Also, I don’t eat lunch because I always want to take a nap afterward. I drink 2 or 3 LaCroix sparkling waters per day.

Nsikan Akpan


Mobile device:

iPhone. I’m unaware of another option. 🙂


MacBook Pro.

Essential software/apps/productivity tools:

The Notes tab (for to-do lists) in the Microsoft Outlook desktop app and the email pin function in the Microsoft Outlook web app (for prioritizing messages).

Favorite time waster/procrastination habit:

Sending GIFs on Slack and Twitter.

My reading habits:

I typically read on the subway and at pubs on the weekend. Goodreads is my go-to for keeping track of what to read. Also newsletters! My favorites: 730dc, STAT, Co.Create, The Next Web, Undark.

Nsikan Akpan

Sleep schedule:

I tend to hit the hay around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. and then awake by 5:00 a.m.

P.S.: Daylight saving time is the bane of my existence.

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