PSD Spotlight: Natalie Lund

March 23, 2020

April 2020 Spotlight

Natalie Lund

PSD’s April spotlight is Natalie Lund, Director of Communications for the Physical Sciences Division. Natalie has been with UChicago for eighteen months and is a young adult fiction author with Penguin Randomhouse.

A PSD community member had this to say:

“Natalie is the type of consummate professional every team hopes to have in their ranks. She is efficient, effective and astonishingly prompt in her responses to emails. She is thoughtful and deliberate and the kind of colleague one looks forward to interacting with each day.

Natalie exemplifies the PSD core values of promoting transparency and collaboration.”

We interviewed Natalie about her interests and experiences below.

Where are you from? 

Geneseo, Illinois

How long have you been at the university?

1.5 years

What do you enjoy about being a part of the PSD community?

The Dean's Office team is such a supportive group. I'm grateful to work with colleagues who share a common vision for improving the experience of students, staff, faculty, OAAs, and postdocs in the Physical Sciences Division.

Tell us a bit about you. 

By day, I'm a communications professional; at night (or really, the early mornings), I'm a young adult author. My debut novel, We Speak in Storms, is out now, and my second novel, The Sky Above Us, will come out next November. I'm also a former middle and high school teacher, a runner, and, of course, a reader.

Who inspires you?

My mother. When I was a child, she worked full time as a nurse while pursuing a graduate degree. She read with me every night and then would stay up late doing her schoolwork. She was my first editor, and I'm thankful for the ways she has shaped both my work ethic and my writing.

What is the most interesting thing that you are working on right now?

My parents grew up in Chicago in the 50s, and I want to do an oral history project with them where I record their memories from that time.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

When I was a teacher, I worked in a school district where 98% of the students came from historically underrepresented backgrounds and 85% were categorized as "economically disadvantaged" by the state. My students did not have the same access to rigorous educational opportunities as their wealthier peers, which is a deep-seated, structural problem in our nation. So now, in my work in the Physical Sciences Division, I often think about how we can help ensure that children have equitable access to a STEM education early in their lives, how we can examine our role in the structure as an institution of higher learning, and how we can build a community that is a welcoming place for individuals of all backgrounds.

What have you seen lately that made you smile?

Penguins wandering around the empty hallways of the Shedd Aquarium during its closure from COVID-19.

If they made a movie about your life, what genre would it be and who would play you?

Definitely magical realism—just because I love the pops of fantastical elements and the acceptance of them as real. And I'd love if Kate Winslet played me.


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