I started writing about math and science in June 2012 thanks to an AAAS Mass Media Fellowship sponsored by the American Mathematical Society. Every year, the fellowship provides opportunities for math and science graduate students to work for mass media outlets such as Scientific American (where I worked), NPR, the Chicago Tribune, and so on. I wrote an article for the AMS Notices about my experience as a fellow. My feelings about writing and my career are always evolving, but that article is a snapshot of some of my thoughts right after my fellowship.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about science and math before I applied for the fellowship, but I thought spending the summer doing it would be a good way to find out. As you can tell, I really enjoyed my time there. The connections I made over the summer helped make this blog-and a lot of other fun stuff-possible. I have not left academia, so writing about math is a supplement to my academic career. My blog and interaction with the online math and science communities have helped me connect with my students in the classroom and given me a way to share my excitement about math with a much broader audience. If you are a math or science graduate student who is interested in the idea of science communication but not quite sure how it will fit into your career, the fellowship is a way for you to test the waters with some excellent editors and colleagues in a supportive environment. Jessica Morrison, one of my fellow fellows, used the fellowship to jump-start her full-time science writing career and wrote about it last year for the Network Central.
Why am I writing about this right now? The application deadline for the 2014 fellowship is January 15, 2014, so if you think you might want to apply, you should start now. Don’t be like me waiting in line at the post office the day the application is due! (They switched from paper to online applications, so you can’t get actually stuck in line at the post office, but you should still get started early.) This year, the AAAS is hoping to place some fellows in Spanish-language media outlets in addition to the English-language ones it has used in the past, so if you are fluent in Spanish, you could be a fellowship pioneer. If you have questions about the fellowship, especially if you’re a mathematician, feel free to ask me by email, tweet, or comment on this post.