In 1946, Dr. Herbert Lippsett, only brother of Dr. Murray Lippsett, married Dr. Shirley Cohen, only sister of Dr. Jack Cohen, and they begat Dr. Paula Lippsett and Dr. Stuart Lippsett. A few years later in Brooklyn, N.Y., they begat Laurence Lippsett (nicknamed Lonny), whose slots in a cradle and in medical school were simultaneously bestowed at birth. But he was clearly a changeling, who delighted in words and stories.
As an undergraduate at the University of Albany, he took all the requisite pre-medical science courses, but completed his degree in an even more arduous major: Not-Becoming-a-Doctor. After earning a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1981, he worked at several daily newspapers in Connecticut. But whenever stories with any science angle popped up, editors scanned the newsroom for a reporter who realized that some genes were stored in chromosomes, not closets, and they tapped Lippsett.
After nine years as a reporter and editor, he returned to Columbia and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to cover science full time. He edited an oral history of Lamont-Doherty, taught journalism at the University of Connecticut, and has written (and ghost-written) for magazines such as Scientific American, Scholastic Science World, and Sea Technology. In 1998, the currents of life brought him to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where a wealth of fascinating people and research provides him with ample opportunities to tell great stories and to convey the importance, excitement, and poetry of science. He has also co-taught a class in science communication for Ph.D. students in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography.
He lives in Falmouth where he raised two daughters with his wife, a journalist with whom he once shared a newsroom desk and now shares a home, a life, and an ongoing conversation sprinkled with literary references and double entendres. His addictions include reading, exercise, theater, and baseball.