Northern California Science Writers Association

NCSWA News February 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 8:43 PM | Corinna Wu (Administrator)
NCSWA's Coming Attractions

At press time, NCSWA is making plans for a dinner meeting with a presentation on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, one of the more contentious environmental issues this year. Date, time and location to come soon! Come and bring your thoughtful questions for a lively session.

Coming Awards, Deadlines and Training:

Entries are due March 15 for the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism. The Knight-Risser Prize is given for journalism in any media that best illuminates an environmental issue or story in western Canada, the United States or Mexico. Entries are not limited to journalists from western news organizations. This prize places a premium on stories that expose undiscovered or covered-up problems, explain detailed solutions in ways that can be put to use, and help readers understand the broader significance of the issues being covered, beyond the immediate details of the stories at hand. The prize is open to work published in 2012, and entry forms for the Knight-Risser Prize are available at

Also, On Feb. 20, the Knight Risser Prize Symposium will present a panel at Stanford University on how technology is changing nature reporting. For more information, go to

Entries are due April 1 for the Society of Environmental Journalists Awards for Reporting on the Environment. Cash prizes of $500 are awarded for seven categories including books, print, photography, online, and broadcast. For more information, visit

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship program is already accepting applications for the fall 2013 session, and the deadline for applying is May 17. The one-week program introduces science journalists to the fields of oceanography and ocean engineering. Ideal candidates should have at least two years of writing, producing, or editing experience for a general-interest audience. For more information, see

NCSWA About Town

Timothy Ferris is writing a new show for the Hayden Planetarium in New York.  Tentatively titled “Expanding Universe,” it is scheduled to premier this fall.  Meanwhile, the political philosophy espoused in Ferris’ latest book, The Science of Liberty, is the subject of upcoming academic conferences in Italy and  England.

David Gilbert writes to invite NCSWA colleagues to the DOE Joint Genome Institute "Genomics of Energy & Environment" meeting, March 26-28, in Walnut Creek. Sessions include DNA synthesis & synthetic biology; single-cell genomics for bioprospecting; biofuel traits in biomass feedstocks; HPC for next-gen sequencing application; and functional metagenomics. Gilbert, who is public affairs manager of the institute, can arrange for press registration (free) for those interested NCSWA members. For information on invited presentations, workshops and tutorials on sequence-based bioinformatics, data management systems and new sequencing technologies, poster sessions, and more, visit

Christine Heinrichs writes to say that the first printing of the second edition of her title, How to Raise Chickens, was sold out before it reached bookstores when Tractor Supply stores bought most of the copies. A second printing is scheduled for February. The book, with updated information and over 200 color pictures, focuses on raising standard breeds in small flocks. It was originally published in 2007, just as America was rediscovering the chicken, she says.

Jan Hopson, past president of NCSWA (1984 and 1985)  is once again an active NCSWA member after several years off. Jan is still freelancing for magazines (most recently Pacific Standard and Scientific American Mind); writing trade books (newest project is in proposal stage); co-authoring college textbooks (currently working on third edition of GET FIT, STAY WELL! [Pearson Education]), and teaching science writing at U.C. Santa Cruz and San Francisco State. She is looking forward to reconnecting with the other NCSWA old-timers as well as meeting the many members who have joined in recent years.

After 8.5 years as a senior writer on the staff of AAAS, Edward Lempinen has taken a new post: public information officer at TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world. He’s moved from the Bay Area to Trieste, Italy, and he says he is working with a small, dedicated staff at an organization that's committed to the idea that science and technology are centrally important to advancing human welfare and sustainable economic growth.

Robin Meadows is now freelancing for Cancer Commons, a nonprofit linking patients, physicians and researchers. She writes profiles of cancer biomarkers, targeted treatments and the underlying biochemistry -- all at the 10th grade level -- and Melanoma Dispatch, which covers the latest in melanoma research and regulations.

Anne Pfister, NCSWA member who works for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, writes to invite NCSWA members to a March 4 special event, “Climate disruption: what math and science have to say,” at the Palace of Fine Arts in SF. The speaker, mathematician and climate scientist Dr. Emily Shuckburgh (of the British Antarctic Survey), has been featured in the recently broadcast NOVA special “Earth from Space.”  NCSWA members can get free tickets to this event by going to and entering the discount code “press.”  MSRI is also offering chartered bus service from UC Berkeley, MSRI, Morgan Hill, and Stanford for a nominal fee of $5 per person. See for details.)

MJ Pramik recently returned from a January tour of Sri Lanka, the island country off the southeast coast of India, and she said people there talked of unseasonal monsoon rains, mudslides, road closures, and even loss of life: two weeks before her arrival, the center of the country experienced torrential deluges followed by mountain slides and loss of hundreds of homes. She is at work now on a book of essays on this sojourn. After her return flight from Colombo to London for a two-day layover to visit a friend, it snowed four inches in the morning.  “It never snows in London,” said her friend. “In Scotland, perhaps. But not London.”  Climate change is everywhere, she says.

Leena Prasad would like to get feedback from other writers and scientists on her blog at  -- a narrative non-fiction approach to exploring neuroscience. She uses stories about fictional and non-fictional characters as a launching pad to discuss how the brain works. The people in her stories experience love, fear, hunger, etc., she says, and they ingest drugs like marijuana, magic mushrooms, and alcohol. Some are dealing with issues like ADHD, OCD, or Alzheimer's.

Norm Sperling, editor of the Journal of Irreproducible Results, has set up blogs for the Great Science Trek he’s now embarking on. He’ll spend 2013-2015 in his new travel trailer, visiting science sites in the US and Canada, and return every fall to keep teaching astronomy at Cal. Read him at: for the basic trip for the project to touch rocks of every geological epoch remains his blog on science, nature, and the public

Lisa Strong, a video and multimedia producer based in Marin, produced a playful web video for the National Wildlife Federation to highlight their San Francisco Bay harbor porpoise campaign. The harbor porpoise was a resident of the SF Bay until WWII, and likely pollution and submarine nets were big factors in its exodus, leaving it gone from the bay for 65 years. The harbor porpoise reintroduced itself in 2009, and now seems to have a thriving presence. Strong wrote a song, sang it with help from San Francisco rapper A-1 (aka Adam Traore), and shot and edited a music video to give it a little kick - especially with the kids. See it at:


Adam Becker, a freelance astrophysicist living in Oakland (

Rachel Bernstein of the journal PLoS

Kevin Boyd, senior science writer at the Exploratorium

Chiara Callies, a cell biologist and medical writer from Germany who has been working for a contract cancer research organization, Oncotest GmbH

Gianine Figliozzi of Sunnyvale, who works for The Collaborative at NASA Ames Research Center

Andy Freeberg of Menlo Park, who works in science communications at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Lida Gifford, a science writer and editor at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Lori Golden of the Hill Physicians Medical Group in Oakland

Madison Hansen, a sophomore at Harvey Mudd College who is interested in science writing (

Alison Hawkes of Berkeley, web editor of, the online portal to Bay Nature Magazine

Stephan Hookano of the Hill Physicians Medical Group

Eileen Kramer of Kensington, who works at the Green Science Policy Institute

Holly MacCormick, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student

Jyoti Madhusoodanan of San Jose, who writes for the journal PLoS

Alexandra Morris of Palo Alto, who works for the Clinton Health Access Initiative

Melissa Pandika, a student in Stanford University’s Graduate Program in Journalism ( She is interning for Sierra magazine.

Liz Savage, a freelance writer and copy editor from San Rafael

Nate Seltenrich, an Oakland-based freelancer covering the environment, science and the arts (

Kelly Servick, a student in the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program

Molly Sharlach, a UC Berkeley graduate student currently pursuing a career in science communications

Aparna Shetty, a neuroscientist researcher at UC San Francisco with an interest in writing and reading about science

Alice Sunshine of Oakland, who has an interest in science writing

Danielle Torrent, a San Rafael-based science writer ( writing for the Florida Museum of Natural History

Quynh Tran, public information officer at the Exploratorium

Danielle Venton, a radio reporter working for KRCB Public Media in Petaluma

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