Increasing public understanding of science and technology is a principal goal of AAAS, so it only makes sense that it recognizes the need for scientists who are well versed in communicating complex ideas to a general audience. Enter the AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows program, which has thrived in this endeavor for 40 years.
This highly competitive program strengthens the connections between scientists and journalists by placing advanced undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate level science, engineering and mathematics students at media organizations nationwide. Fellows have worked as reporters, editors, researchers, and production assistants at such media outlets as the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, Sacramento Bee, and Scientific American. The AAAS Fellows use their academic training in the sciences as they research, write and report today's headlines, sharpening their abilities to communicate complex scientific issues to non-specialists. Participants come in knowing the importance of translating their work for the public, but they leave with the tools and the know-how to accomplish this important goal.
For 10 weeks during the summer, the AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows collaborate with media professionals at radio and television stations, newspapers, and magazines. As part of their job, the student-scientists and their host-journalists strive to make science news easy for the public to understand. The fellowship program is designed to enhance coverage of science-related issues in the media in order to improve public understanding and appreciation of science and technology. Fellows have the opportunity to observe and participate in the process by which events and ideas become news, improve their communication skills by learning to describe complex technical subjects in a manner understandable to the lay public, and increase their understanding of editorial decision making and the way in which information is effectively disseminated. The program has supported more than 600 Fellows.
- Applicants must be enrolled as college or university students (graduate, doctoral, or upper level undergraduates) — or within one year of a completed degree — in the physical, biological, geological, health, engineering, computer, or social sciences or mathematics in order to apply.
- Students enrolled in English, journalism, science journalism, or other non-technical fields are not eligible for these fellowships.
- Successful applicants must attend an orientation at AAAS headquarters at the beginning of the summer (early June) and a wrap-up session at the end of the summer (mid-August). They will prepare reports on the progress of their fellowships throughout their placement.
AAAS typically selects from 15-20 Mass Media Fellows each summer. Fellows are provided a weekly stipend of $500 as well as travel expenses to and from AAAS and their sites.
Hear from some of the 2013 participants and learn more about what it's like to be AAAS Mass Media Fellow.