Northern California Science Writers Association

August 2012 Newsletter for the Northern California Science Writers Association

Wednesday, August 08, 2012 9:04 PM | Anonymous

NCSWA’S Coming Attractions: SAVE THE DATE

Overnight trip to north coast’s Angelo Reserve, Aug. 24-26

UC Berkeley ecologist Todd Dawson will lead NCSWA members on a Sunday morning walk to a research site in the 4,000-acre Angelo Coast Range Reserve, which has one of the largest tracts of Douglas fir and coast redwood forest in California.  The Mendocino County reserve is a 3.5-hour drive north of San Francisco, so come and stay overnight Friday and/or Saturday in a tent or cabin. To reserve a spot, please go to NCSWA’s new test site; for more information on Angelo, link to the Reserve website.


NCSWA Movie Night, Aug. 28

Meet us for a global pandemic double feature on Tuesday, August 28th, at the SF Film Society Cinema: Contagion (2011) and Panic in the Streets (1950). Mark Smolinski, Director of Global Health Threats for the Skoll Global Threats Fund, will speak between the films. Watch your inbox for details.


Oct. 11 fall event
Thursday, Oct. 11: Join NCSWA members for our fall event with’s Kevin Poulsen in San Francisco. who will talk about tracking down material for his book, Kingpin, on a cyber gangster who was apprehended here in SF after cornering the world market in stolen credit card numbers.  More information coming soon to your inbox and NCSWA’s Facebook page.


Jan. 12, 2013, data journalism workshop

Start the New Year getting smarter at NCSWA’s all-day data journalism workshop on Saturday, Jan. 12. More information to come.

Coming Awards, Deadlines and Events:

Kyoto Prize Journalism Fellowship: Application deadline Sept. 6, 2012
One U.S. journalist will be selected to travel to Kyoto, Japan, in mid-November to attend the annual Kyoto Prize presentation ceremony, laureate lectures and workshops. The fellow will have opportunities to interview the latest Kyoto Prize laureates to further their knowledge and reporting in technology, science and the arts. For more information on the program and an application form, link to the Point Loma Nazarene University

Science Writers 2012:

The annual meeting for the National Association of Science Writers will be held Oct. 26-30 at Research Triangle Park, NC. Organized by science writers, and for science writers, it provides professional development workshops, briefings on the latest scientific research, networking opportunities and field trips. Meeting registration opens Aug. 15 at the NASW website.


SEJ’s 22nd Annual Conference:
The Society of Environmental Journalists will hold its annual conference Oct. 17-21, hosted by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. For more information, link to the SEJ


NCSWA About Town


Ruth Carranza, an independent filmmaker specializing in science and technology, has just completed an educational DVD titled "Nanotechnology: The World Beyond Micro."  Funded with a grant from the National Science Foundation, the DVD is designed for undergraduate courses and industrial training programs.  Working closely with advisors from Stanford University, she captured footage from established industrial sites as well as  young start-ups and research facilities.  For more information visit Silicon Run Productions' website at

Roberta Friedman, a NCSWA member since 1985, is battling breast cancer and says, “just ask everyone to think good thoughts” for her. She is a grad of UC Santa Cruz’s science writing program, and did internships at Stanford, NASA, and Long Marine Lab. She’s been a freelancer for two decades for such clients as WebMD, Doctors Guide, Neurology Today, Psychology Today, and California Wild. “Miss those great dinners and speakers and colleagues,” she says.


Christine Heinrichs attended the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Dallas in July. Her winning entry in the reported narrative category from the 2011 conference (about the investigation into the shooting of three elephant seals at Piedras Blancas in 2008) was published in the 2012 edition of Ten Spurs, the literary journal, and she was inducted into the Ten Spurs Society. Her sea otter story was a finalist in the 2012 contest, a version of which will soon be published on Audubon's website.

Jennifer Huber, research scientist at LBNL, has been blogging for KQED Quest since April at  She covers the health beat. She also started teaching a new science writing course this summer for UC Berkeley Extension's professional certificate writing programs.

Charlie Petit has stepped down as lead writer for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker website, but he is not going away entirely. He formally resigned from the MIT Science Journalism Fellowships program that employs him but will continue, at a slower pace and without rising at 5 a.m. every morning, as an outside contractor.  He also has a piece, “Stellar Oddballs,” on the Kepler Telescope that editor Michio Kaku selected to appear in THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING 2012.  Ecco/Perennial will publish it in September.


Mary Jean Pramik in San Francisco writes to say she recently had an essay and two poems published in an anthology, Wandering in Bali.  She gave three readings in the SF Bay Area, and also spent a week in July at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers gathering.  “Great to work with seasoned writers and teachers of writing,” she says.


Norm Sperling is selling the collection of science books he’s built over 50 years. “Thousands of books, mostly < $10,” he writes. Many scholarly, lots of popularizations at all levels, and “a few hundred are from the 1800s,” plus periodicals and posters. Cash preferred: 11 am to 4 pm Saturday, August 11, 2012,
413 Poinsettia Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403 ”Spread the word!” he says. More information is at


This year’s UC Santa Cruz science writing students finished their graduate training in June, and they're now working at summer internships around the country. Many have arranged other positions for fall 2012 and beyond. They are:


Marissa Fessenden: Scientific American, New York, through December

Daniela Hernandez: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Kaiser Family Foundation); fall job at WIRED, San Francisco

Sarah Jane Keller: Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico; fall internship at Conservation, Seattle

Tanya Lewis:, San Francisco; fall internship at Science News, Washington, D.C.

Erin Loury: Los Angeles Times (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Beth Marie Mole: Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington, D.C.; fall internship at The Scientist; winter-spring internship at Nature, Washington, D.C.

Meghan Rosen: Science News, Washington, D.C.; one-year internship at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland

Helen Shen: Boston Globe (Kaiser Family Foundation); fall internship at Nature, Washington, D.C.

Stephen Tung: U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek; fall internship at the Exploratorium, San Francisco

Amy West: Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, video production, San Francisco



Brian Young, a researcher living in San Francisco.

Edward Lempinen of Pleasant Hill, a science writer with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Sumita Sami of Campbell, a software engineer hoping to enter the science writing field.

Kathryn Stelljes of Martinez, a freelance science writer.

Caroline Rupp of Boulder Creek, a documentation engineer - someone who documents high-tech products - who hopes to leave her "boring" career for a more interesting life as a science writer.

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