These days, with advances in science and technology proliferating at breakneck speed, one of the most valuable allies a researcher can have is someone to explain all that complicated information to the masses. And some of the communicators most skilled at making sense of science are trained at MIT in the Graduate Program in Science Writing. Alumni of the program have gone on to publish in and/or work at most of the prestigious publications, including Discover, Technology Review, Nature, New Scientist, Popular Mechanics, Science News, and Psychology Today, among many others.
Here’s a little taste of what these talented MITers have to offer.
On his Main Sequence blog, grad student, writer, musician, and video artist MacGregor Campbell offers “music, science, and experiments.” Check out some of his articles and videos, completed during a recent internship at New Scientist, about topics including the “smell of death” as a tool for forensic investigators and robot chauffeurs at London’s Heathrow airport. Also check out archives of his popular feature Sound-a-Day, where he puts a new spin on ordinary sounds. As he explains, one audio clip based on a printer is “the same printer sound layered on itself seven times, each time with a different pitch and bandpass filter setting. There’s also a bit of volume oscillation between the layers to make the shifting pitches more dynamic—and some reverb.”
Environmental writer Phil McKenna SM ’06 provides videos and stories from the People’s Republic of China, including posts about white-headed langurs (monkeys, shown below) and encounters with king cobras.
Lissa Harris SM ’08 has been writing her Women Do blog since 2006. In it, she exposes media accounts focused on “the shocking spectacle of women doing stuff that people generally do.” One example: a Boston Globe article about female musicians on tour that tries to force a feminist framework on the gig.
Professor Thomas Levenson’s blog, The Inverse Square, looks at writing about science, the history of science, interactions between science and politics, and more. One recent post looks at navigating the changing media landscape for science communicators and their teachers with regards to video and audio.
The Artful Amoeba blog, by Jennifer Frazer SM ’04, looks at natural history and biodiversity—or, as the tagline says, “the weird wonderfulness of life on Earth”—with some stunning photography to boot.
Find more blogs, books, and articles written by the program’s alumni and read Scope, the quarterly student publication showcasing some of the fine products of writing assignments: news articles, features, personal essays, podcasts, videos, and more.