Above: Dawn Cusick merges her interests in science and publishing to create a successful series of childrens books.

Above: Dawn Cusick merges her interests in science and publishing to create a successful series of childrens books.

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Dawn Cusick

Head of the CLAS

Merging her two interests, science and publishing, one UF CLAS graduate has started her own company.

Dawn Cusick, publisher and founder of EarlyLight Books, has written and published Bug Butts and Animal Tongues, two children’s books with a biological science focus.

Cusick graduated from UF with a degree in English in 1989. From there, she worked for a craft book publisher writing and editing books about jewelry, quilting, knitting, and dried flowers.

“It’s much more fun to do crafts than to write about them,” Cusick said.

While working there, she took science classes during her lunch break at University of North Carolina—Asheville, eventually earning her Certificate of Post Baccalaureate Major in Biology in 2001.

“After using the creative side of my brain for work all day, it was exhilarating to approach subjects more analytically in science coursework,” she said.

She then earned her master’s degree in Biology Master’s from Western Carolina University in 2008.

While her two sons were young, Cusick often volunteered in their classrooms and as chaperones on field trips.

“I would sit in the back of the bus with the kids and just could not believe their endless joking and story telling about butts,” she said of her book Bug Butts.

In biology class, she would sit and think about how the science she was learning could fit into a children’s book.

“Well, when you work in publishing you have books on your mind almost every waking moment —you just can’t help yourself — so there was no way to sit in biology classes and not think about books,” she said.

Her books have gotten flattering reviews and have garnered interest for foreign translations, with more than a dozen publishers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland and Italy requesting quotes and sample copies.

Cusick is currently in development for the company’s second season of books, which will include another one of her titles, Animal Eggs. EarlyLight is located in Waynesville, North Carolina and on the Web at www.earlylightbooks.com

“Viewing my science coursework through the eyes of children and in the format of nonfiction books was just a natural blending of two important parts of my life,” Cusick said.


Aubrey Siegel, CLAS Communications and Outreach, 352-846-2032

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