Cornelia Mutel is an ecologist and the senior science writer and archivist for the IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a unit of the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering. She sat down for this On the Fly interview in 2011.
Mutel’s work is deeply concerned with the natural world in general and with Iowa in particular. “When you write about Iowa,” she explains, “you write about the destruction of natural world, just because we are the most modified landscape—some people say the most manipulated and modified landscape in the world. You have to portray that, but what I always try to do is end with a sense of hope.”
She explains that her “writing gets a lot of strength from trying to integrate essay techniques into scientific writing…What I would love to do is to do a book that introduced people to a very small piece of land in Johnson County (home to Iowa City)…and then integrate that with a human story.”
Mutel is the author of a number of books, including The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa and A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008. She and Robert Ettema are the authors of 2014’s Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer.