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Busy scicom student

October 18, 2011

Our class learning how to take photos

Well it’s happening!

I’m a month into classes at UC Santa Cruz’s Science Communication program. Writing about science is no longer something I fit into the spaces around work. It is what I do now.

Between classes and an internship at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, I’m pretty busy.

One of our classes is taught by Erika-Check Hayden, a reporter at Nature News and blogger at The Last Word on Nothing.

She plunged us into the world of social media. Each person in our class of ten now has a twitter handle whether we wanted one or not. Some are glad to tweet, some are continuing to tweet and others are wary of all the bird-talk. My stream was made considerably more exciting this past weekend as I tweeted from the annual Science Writers meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona. The National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing meet jointly and professional science writers of all stripes gather. This year, seven of the ten slugs showed up, including me (UCSC’s mascot is the banana slug).

I went to talks on covering controversy in science, structure in long form writing, questions for freelance writers, research using genomics to figure out where disease comes from (white-nose syndrome in bats, MSRA, cholera and anthrax) and the microbiome. Lotsandlots of fun. The best part was meeting some science writers that have have stalked admired from afar. I’m inspired and encouraged.

UCSC student working (not me). Look at the redwoods!

We also have a class blog:, where I just posted my first post about water fluoridation.

In my other classes, I’m learning AP style and how to write in short paragraphs. See?

Our instructors are journalists. In addition to Erika, we have Marc DesJardins, the features editor at the Santa Cruz Sentinel; Ken Mcglaughlin, an editor at San Jose Mercury News; and Rob Irion, our director and freelance magazine journalist. All those editors; my writing is already improving.

Class assignments so far have ranged from how cows make milk to the discovery of a planet orbiting binary stars to student reactions to tuition hikes at the University of California.

I’m thinking constantly about science and writing.

Santa Cruz is beautiful and I am happy.

The campus is in a freaking redwood forest, you guys!

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