From Science to Storytelling: One Immunologist’s Journey into the World of SciComm by Stephanie Melchor

Stephanie Melchor

UC Santa Cruz

The ARCS scholarship has funded me as I’ve traded in the pipette for the pen, leaving the world of academic research for science journalism. Shortly after finishing my PhD, I came to UC Santa Cruz’s science communication program to learn the ins and outs of reporting science for a lay audience.

ABSTRACT

When I was working on my PhD, I thought I wanted to become tenure-track research professor. I loved thinking and talking and writing about science, but I didn’t love doing experiments. I hoped I could push through the research phase long enough to get to a point in my career when I no longer had to work at the bench. Luckily, I discovered a new way to do my favorite parts of science, without needing to actually do science. These days, I still do research, but it looks a little different. Instead of running experiments, I do research as a science journalist by reading papers, interviewing scientists about their work, and doing however much background research I need to be able to understand the subject I’m writing about. Instead of parsing or analyzing my experimental data, I sift through hours of interview transcripts to pull out the primary quotes that best tell my story. Just like organizing data panels in a manuscript, I cut and move paragraphs around to connect the facts of my story in the most coherent and compelling way possible.

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