Hi There



I’m a writer with a passion for stories about small towns, travel, history, and folklore. I have a decade of experience in nonprofit PR, and my freelance work is published or forthcoming in Atlas Obscura, BRAVA Magazine, Discovery, Verge Magazine, and elsewhereI’m a regular contributor to On Wisconsin Magazine, a contract editor for Borgo Publishing, and consultant for Commetta Communications and Oak Philanthropy.

I’m pursuing an MFA in creative writing at the University of Alabama, and my fiction is published in/on Nimrod International Journal, Allegory Ridge, Heron Tree, Psychopomp Magazine, and Dogzplot. I also hold a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I conducted peer-reviewed research on urban/rural tensions and collective memory. In 2017, I was named a finalist in the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers.

I’m originally from the small-but-mighty city of Beloit, Wisconsin, and I now live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a detour in Europe.

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Selected Nonfiction


Copy Editing


  • Barnidge, M., Gunther, A., Kim, J., Hong, Y., Perryman, M., Tay, S. K., Knisely, S. (forthcoming). “Politically motivated selective exposure and perceived media bias.” Communication Research. Advance online publication.
  • McLaughlin, B.; Davis, C.; Coppini, D.; Kim, Y.M.; Knisely, S.; McLeod, D. (2015) “When Women Attack.” Politics and Life Sciences, 34(1). pp. 44-56.
  • Robinson, S.; Knisely, S.; Schwartz, M. (2014) “A news negotiation of a state’s history: Collective memory of the 2011 Wisconsin protests.” Journalism Studies, 1-18.c.
  • Knisely, S. “Division in Dairyland: Community structure, social identity and news frames during the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election.” Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin. 2013. Read it here.
  • Presentation: “Darth Vader in Dairyland: Constructing political out-groups via digital cartoons.” Paper presented at Communication Crossroads: A Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference. Madison, Wisconsin. March 2013.
  • Presentation: “A news negotiation of a state’s history: Collective memory of the 2011 Wisconsin protests.” Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference. Chicago, Illinois. August 2012.
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“Sandra Knisely is a writer of exceptional talent — an energetic and diligent researcher who uses crisp, clever prose to produce stories that are insightful and moving. I’ve worked with her on magazine articles of varying lengths — from just a few lines to thousands of words — and she consistently delivers outstanding material on time. Her article “Boxing Shadows” in the fall 2014 issue of Badger Insider was one of the most popular stories that magazine has published. She’s a natural storyteller and an editor’s delight.” 

John Allen, Associate Publisher of On Wisconsin Magazine & Managing Director at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association


“I’ve known Sandra for several years, and I was thrilled when she joined our office as a content strategist. Sandra understands and excels at all aspects of editorial content — from planning to content creation to analytics to distribution. She stays informed about the issues within our field and beyond, and that knowledge allows her to advise on both specific details and the big picture. She is incredibly bright and insightful, and she helps teams to view both day-to-day work and unexpected challenges creatively. Rest assured that if you work with Sandra, you will learn — and laugh — every day.”

Cindy Foss, Emeritus Co-Editor of On Wisconsin Magazine


“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sandy during our time at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and more generally as a colleague at UW-Madison. In her work for the Institute, Sandy led the way in revamping our social media practices and creative communications campaigns. She not only tackled writing projects and met deadlines with precision and reliability, but she also produced science stories and content with a rare combination of wit and accessibility. Sandy has remained one of my most trusted colleagues whom I consult with regularly to get honest feedback and guidance on writing projects, public relations, and communications strategies. Her strength in translating larger cultural, scientific, and political trends with alacrity enables her to work expertly in a variety of contexts and outlets. I highly recommend Sandy and am grateful to continue to learn from her.”

Marianne Spoon, Director of Communications at the Center for Healthy Minds


“Sandy is one of the most talented and prolific science writers I have worked with during my more than 18 years in university communications. She can get to the heart of complex topics in ways that are creative, informative and refreshingly free of insider jargon. Sandy showed strong initiative throughout her four-year tenure with Engineering External Relations, and in 2010 almost singlehandedly developed a social media presence for the college that now stands as one of the best on campus. She’s a quick study who always seems ready to take on the next challenge, whether it be unfamiliar research turf or emerging technologies. She would be a great asset to any news or communications environment.”

Brian Mattmiller, Chief Communications Officer at the Morgridge Institute for Research


“I was lucky to have been able to work with Sandy for several years in the Engineering External Relations (EER) office at the UW-Madison College of Engineering. Talented, focused, knowledgeable, organized and on top of all that, fun to work with. Sandy brought enthusiasm, energy, and excellence to EER, and I sure wish she still worked here!”

Phil Biebl, Senior Artist (retired) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

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