Inquiring minds

  • Eileen Campbell ('83)
  • Elizabeth Devitt ('13)
  • Blake Edgar ('89)
  • Kerry Klein ('15)
  • Greta Lorge ('03)
  • Jyoti Madhusoodanan ('14)
  • Lisa Marie Potter ('15)
  • Heather Rock Woods ('94)
  • Rina Sheikh Lesko ('13)
  • Kim Smuga Otto ('15)

Ten graduates from the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program contributed their expertise to the second edition of inquiry@UC Santa Cruz.

These “SciCommies,” as program alums are known, represent every decade of the writing program established in 1981 by John Wilkes (B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in English literature at UC Santa Cruz). In contrast to his credentials, Wilkes recruited scientists—not English scholars—to become the next generations of storytellers.

Now under the leadership of Robert Irion (SciCom ‘88), who studied planetary sciences before he became one of Wilkes’ students, the internationally recognized writing program counts close to 300 graduates. These scientists-turned-journalists work for newspapers, online news services, magazines, museums, university news offices, federal agencies, and as freelance writers.  They also share stories through podcasts, photographs, video, and radio shows.

“Our graduates have all been in the realms of research —they know it from the inside—and that changes the questions they ask, it changes the nature of the conversations they have, and it makes their stories richer, more robust, and more reliable,” said Irion.

SciCom also stands out as the only graduate-level program at a public university that is dedicated to science writing. In that respect, Irion noted, the program fits in well with the University of California’s mission of research, teaching, and public service. “The students are fascinated by the scientific enterprise as a whole and they can’t wait to share those passions with society,” said Irion.

So, wherever science is happening, there’s probably a SciCommie on that reporting beat. We hope you enjoy the stories we found among the world-class researchers at UC Santa Cruz.

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