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Science writing program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison


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The professional track master’s program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with its strong focus on science journalism, dates back to the 1960s, making it one of the oldest such programs in the country. Over the years, some of the country’s best known science journalists – including both William J. Broad and Jane Brody of The New York Times – have studied at Wisconsin. And program graduate Deborah Blum (blog), a Pulitzer-prize winning science writer, is now a professor in the UW School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In the last decade alone, the Wisconsin program has taught a variety of graduate students who now work as science writers in a wide range of positions, such as Tinsley Davis, the executive director of the National Association of Science Writers; Suzanne Rust, an investigative environmental reporter for California Watch; Jennifer Evans, at the Society for Neuroscience, and Chad Boutin, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Here are some examples of work by recent graduates:

Kathleen Masterson, a National Public Radio reporter based in Iowa, has made a point of illuminating the science connection to agriculture. In this story last summer, she explored the possibility that farmers might set aside growing food in favor of harvesting money from gas rich sands on their lands.

Dinesh Ramde, an Associated Press reporter based in Milwaukee, just published this story on forensic anthropology and the use of photos of the dead in cold-case work, which was picked up by Salon.

Adam Hinterthuer, web editor at the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin, also freelances for a variety of publications, including the occasional blog for Audubon magazine.

Krishna Ramanujan, a science writer at Cornell University, wrote this fascinating story about predator competition between humans and snakes (including a long history of attacking and eating each other). Published in December, it got 100,000 hits in a week.

Two new graduates, Marianne English and Timothy Oleson, who received their master’s degrees in December, both worked for science journalism publications while in school. Among their work, English did this thoughtful analysis of research suggesting that caffeine fends off depression for Discovery News and this clear-headed look at uranium for How Stuff Works. While interning for Earth magazine this summer, Oleson wrote this analysis of the arsenic life controversy and this charming guide to geology-speak terminology.

And here is a few examples from students currently in the master’s program, at UW-Madison:

Kate Prengman, a science writing major with an undergraduate degree in biology, collaborated with Saideh Jamshidi, who is studying international relations, on this December piece looking at the science and politics of Iran’s nuclear program. It was published on the website, Bestthinking.com.

Prengaman is also collaborating with another science writing graduate, Emily Eggleston, on a food science blog, which explores everything from the health benefits of garlic to the physical structure of sugars in caramel. Eggleston also maintains a blog, Curious Terrain, which ranges in topic from data mining to the science of snow.

And Erin Podolak, interning in the summer for Geek System, wrote this piece about fossil evidence of live birth in dinosaurs. She continues to explore science issues on her blog, Science Decoded, where she often includes coverage of polar bears, one of her favorite species.

 





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  1. 1. toleson 5:05 pm 01/17/2012

    Thanks so much for including my UW science writing colleagues and I in this post Bora! Just wanted to point out that the “charming guide” link appears not to work…I think this is a better link: http://www.earthmagazine.org/earth/article/46f-7db-8-12

    Link to this
  2. 2. Bora Zivkovic 10:54 pm 01/17/2012

    Strange. It is the same URL. Works when pasted into browser, does not work as a link…

    Link to this
  3. 3. adamhint 11:19 am 01/18/2012

    Hello! I appreciate the shout out for my journalism alma mater, but the blurb about me is off base! I am actually the associate director of program planning for the IJNR, as well as a project director for the Society of Environmental Journalists. Also, the IJNR is in no way affiliated with the UW. While I did, long ago, blog once or twice for Audubon, I had a much longer stint doing podcasts for SciAm’s “60 Second Science” (as well as placed a couple articles in the magazine) and recently finished work on a story on Asian carp for BioScience magazine. It’d be safe to say I freelance in my free time, which is rare, given my two kids and multiple jobs!

    Thanks for casting Sci Am’s spotlight on UW’s excellent program. Sorry my website probably yielded little current info on me!

    Link to this

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