AAAS has announced the 2023 participants in its Diverse Voices in Science Journalism internship, which allows undergraduate students from backgrounds underrepresented in science writing to spend the summer as a member of the Science news team.
The 2023 interns are Tanvi Dutta Gupta, who is completing an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s degree in earth systems at Stanford University, and Celina Zhao, who is studying science writing and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dutta Gupta and Zhao will take part in a paid, 10-week experience at the headquarters of Science in Washington, D.C., under the guidance of the weekly magazine’s award-winning staff of science writers and editors.
The experience is a rigorous one, according to Shraddha Chakradhar, Science’s deputy news editor for diversity and the internship’s program coordinator.
“Yes, they’re interns, but we treat them like staff writers,” said Chakradhar. “We want them to be as much a part of the team as anybody else on staff, and we want them to really take ownership of their experience.”
The interns, drawn from a pool of nearly 150 applicants, will kick off their summer by taking part in the AAAS Mass Media Fellows’ orientation to get a crash course on science journalism. Participants come with a range of experiences, so the internship is intended to be a training opportunity in science journalism for those who come from diverse communities and are committed to extending the reach of science journalism into diverse communities.
The program, which was launched nearly two decades ago and is currently supported by contributions from AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship alumnus and TV writer, executive producer, and showrunner Neal Baer, defines diversity broadly. Candidates might bring to science journalism diversity in their racial or ethnic background, financial background, citizenship status, educational background, sexual identity or gender identity.
“We asked our applicants to tell us why they think they're a diverse voice in science, as of course they know themselves best,” she said.
Zhao notes that she’s always been curious about the world around her, dating back to her interest as a child in David Attenborough’s “Planet Earth” program. As a junior science journalism major, she is interested in telling stories at the intersection of science and society, particularly stories about the people doing science and the people affected by science. As a Diverse Voices intern, she seeks to prioritize diverse voices and diverse communities.
Dutta Gupta looks forward to learning about cutting-edge research in a wide range of fields beyond her field of study: ecology. She also hopes to hone her storytelling skills and further explore “how journalism can speak truth to power.”
For Chakradhar, there are two future visions for the program. The first expands upon the existing internship, perhaps offering opportunities to remote participants or non-U.S. citizens. Her second vision finds that diversity is a regularly considered criterion for all opportunities in science journalism, not simply those designated to boost diverse voices.
Said Chakradhar, “Eventually, there wouldn’t be a need for a dedicated program like this.”
For more information about the program, including past interns’ articles in Science and application details, visit https://www.aaas.org/programs/diverse-voices-science-journalism-internship.