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Workshop reporting captures highlights of 57th New Horizons briefing

Flooding at Assateague Island National Seashore from rising sea levels, discussed in the workshop story by R. Kevin Tindell of Arizona State University. Public domain image from the National Park Service.

Eleven talented science graduate students and postdoctoral fellows were transformed into science news reporters during ScienceWriters2019 in State College, Pa. Oct. 25-29, 2019, providing journalistic coverage of nearly half of CASW’s New Horizons in Science sessions at the conference..

The CASW sessions provide the raw material for stories prepared by the participants in ComSciCon-SciWri 2019, a workshop produced by the national organization ComSciCon in collaboration with CASW and with funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The junior researchers attended to strengthen their science communication and storytelling skills and learn more about science journalism.

Workshop organizers Jason Chang, Jordan Harrod, Samantha Jones, and Stephanie DeMarco selected the participants from universities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Arizona, Nevada, and Wisconsin through a competitive application process. A day of training and discussion sessions was held at Penn State’s Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications before the conference, featuring presentations from professional science journalists and communicators. After meeting their conference mentors, participants attended a day of professional development sessions organized by the National Association of Science Writers before the start of the CASW New Horizons program.

Nine participants chose to cover New Horizons sessions; two more conducted interviews with scientists. The New Horizons Newsroom for 2019 also includes a story by New Horizons Traveling Fellow Paul Nicolaus. The stories were edited by Jennifer Cox, Hannah Hickey, Betsy Mason, Czerne Reid, and CASW Executive Director Rosalind Reid.

CASW thanks the hardworking workshop organizers, presenters, and editors; HHMI, for its generous funding; and the mentors who provided individual advice and professional support to the ComSciCon-SciWri 2019 participants: CASW board members Maggie Koerth-Baker, William Kearney, Betsy Mason, and Ashley Smart, along with Athena Aktipis (University of Arizona), Hannah Hickey (University of Washington), Jane C. Hu (freelance, Seattle), Amy McDermott (Front Matter, PNAS), Tom Ulrich (the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT), Jon Weiner (Kaiser Permanente), and Liz Zubritsky (American Chemical Society).

This was the second ComSciCon-SciWri workshop sponsored by HHMI and produced in collaboration with CASW. The first workshop produced coverage of the 2015 New Horizons in Science program, presented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.