The SA Incubator

The SA Incubator

The next generation of science writers and journalists.

Weekly Highlights #15 - UC-Santa Cruz students


Illustration: Sean Vidal Edgerton

Students of the UC-Santa Cruz Science Communication program had some some awesome and successful stories published recently - I hope you enjoy them as much as I did:

Marissa Fessenden (@marisfessenden) wrote about an annoying speaking pattern among young women, called "vocal fry," for a class news assignment. She successfully pitched the article to ScienceNOW, complete with an audio file of herself demonstrating vocal fry: 'Vocal Fry' Creeping Into U.S. Speech

Within three days, Marissa's story became the most popular story ever published by ScienceNOW, covering some 15 years and more than 10,000 articles. NPR's weekly program "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" also featured the story.

Helen Shen (@HelenShenWrites) wrote a story about electrical recordings of human sperm by biologists at UC San Francisco. The article started as a class assignment, and it appeared on page A1 of the San Jose Mercury News: UCSF researchers perform first electrical recordings in human sperm

All papers in the Bay Area News Group (circulation: 600,000) ran the piece. It also spread to the Sacramento Bee, Boston Herald, Vancouver Sun, Charlotte Observer, and UPI. Helen is now interning at the Mercury News.

Daniela Hernandez (@danielaphd) covered the end of the world for in a story that she started as a class piece, then further developed at her current internship. Specifically, she wrote about scientifically plausible ways life on Earth could bite the dust: Scientific Doomsday: Ways the World Could Actually End

Daniela's gallery got more than 360,000 hits, ranking it among the top five of all stories at in January.

Meghan Rosen (@MeghanDRosen) also published a freelance piece at, based on a class field trip to a UC Santa Cruz lab searching for new compounds to fight cholera: Searching the Sea for Scum-Busting Cholera Killers

Rosen also managed to publish a photo of herself and her baby daughter, Briar, in a short story at ScienceNOW on mother-baby physiological ties: ScienceShot: Human Hearts Beat Together

Amy West (@AmyWestWrites) covered a sensitive marine issue in Australia by finding an unreported policy paper on fishermen unhappy with the restrictions of a Great Barrier Reef reserve. Her story, "Great Barrier Beefs," started as a class piece but appeared at length on the website of Conservation.

Erin Loury (@ironloudly) received major Bay Area coverage for her class story on a conservation effort at Año Nuevo Island, on California's central coast. The San Jose Mercury News ran Erin's long piece in its entirety and commissioned an impressive slideshow: Scientists team with art designers to restore Año Nuevo Island, a place where animals reign supreme.

Sarah Jane Keller (@sjanekeller) got notice from the Mercury News and UPI for a story on an unlikely topic: the relationship between words on potato chip bags and social class. Sarah wrote the piece for a Stanford News Service internship: Enticing words printed on bags of potato chips have a lot to say about social class, Stanford researchers find

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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