Twenty-one scientists will bring their scientific expertise to newsrooms around the country as they spend their summers reporting, writing and producing the news as the 2023 class of AAAS Mass Media Fellows.
The AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship offers undergraduates, graduate students, recent graduates and postdoctoral fellows in the sciences a hands-on opportunity to distill and communicate complicated scientific concepts for broad audiences.
“The Mass Media Fellowship combines scientific expertise with the ability to craft news stories that resonate with an audience. Their stories may provide valuable insight into the latest public health threats, highlight the voices and experiences of marginalized scientists, or inspire people to explore the scientific world around them,” said Kristin Lewis, the fellowship’s project director.
Fellows will start their summers with an intensive orientation at AAAS headquarters in June, followed by 10 weeks spent in newsrooms ranging from magazines and daily newspapers to public radio stations and programs and science-focused online outlets.
Fellows bring a wealth of science communication experience, including contributing to their universities’ student newspaper, freelance writing and giving public science talks. The fellowship will allow them to hone their skills in a new environment and broaden the reach of their efforts.
For Chelsie Boodoo, science communication was never something she encountered as an undergraduate student in the sciences. Upon being introduced to the concept at a conference, Boodoo and her now-husband, a fellow doctoral student, started a science communication organization at Michigan State University and launched a radio show called The Sci-Files for their university radio station.
This summer, Boodoo will bring her skills to Science Friday, which airs on public radio stations across the country – an experience that will build upon her locally focused experience and help build a network as she continues to pursue a career in science journalism.
Bec Roldan is another fellow bringing their skills to public radio. Roldan, a 4th year Ph.D. student in organic chemistry at the University of Michigan, co-hosts a podcast called My Fave Queer Chemist, which features interviews with LGBTQ+ scientists from a range of career stages.
Before ever being aware of science communication as a concept and a career, Roldan has always been interested in the intersection between science and society. Through their podcasting experience, they have fallen in love with sharing the stories of the people behind the science, they noted.
This summer, they will work at National Public Radio’s Goats and Soda blog.
“I’m really looking forward to a whole summer dedicated to strengthening my skills in science communication,” especially because they plan to pursue a career in science communication, Roldan said. “Being able to merge my love of public radio with scicomm just seems like a dream come true.”
Not every fellow intends to parlay their fellowship into a career in science journalism or communication. Some fellows plan to return to academic science bolstered by new scientific communication skills. Others are still exploring their future path.
Julie Jung, a biology postdoc at the University of Utah, will spend the summer reporting for the Idaho Statesman, the daily newspaper in Boise – an experience that she looks forward to with curiosity.
Jung likened the experience to an exploratory scientific experiment. “I could find that this new career suits me really well,” she said. “Or, I could incorporate what I learned this summer and have more of a scicomm tilt as I stay in academia.”
Said Jung, “Either way, I will learn something and use it in my career going forward.”
For information on the organizations sponsoring fellows this summer, and for criteria for applying for future classes, visit aaas.org/programs/mass-media-fellowship.
The 2023 AAAS Mass Media Fellows are:
- Chelsie Boodoo, Science Friday
- Shelby Bradford, StateImpact Pennsylvania
- Maxine Elena Calle, The Conversation U.S.
- Gina Errico, Los Angeles Times
- Celia Ford, WIRED
- Bree Iskandar, STAT
- Julie Jung, Idaho Stateman
- Lydia Larsen, Inside Climate News
- Lila Levinson, The Dallas Morning News
- Victoria Ke Li, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- Paige Miranda, North Carolina Public Radio WUNC
- Anna Nordseth, Discover Magazine
- Bec Roldan, NPR
- Rose Schnabel, El Nuevo Día
- Andrea Tamayo, The News & Observer
- Brittany Truong, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- Lucy Tu, Scientific American
- Victoria Sayo Turner, Smithsonian Magazine
- Ashley Vargo, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Skyler Ware, Science News
- Aara'L Yarber, The Washington Post