Northern California Science Writers Association


NCSWHAT, the newsletter of the Northern California Science Writers Association
Editor: Donna Alvarado,
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  • Monday, May 16, 2011 8:36 AM | Anonymous

    NCSWA is on Facebook!
    Visit our FB page to see photos of recent events. Thanks to East Bay member Corinna Wu who made this possible. You can also still find NCSWA on the Web at


    Coming Soon to Your Inbox

    NCSWA’s summer dinner meeting, to be announced

    Miss the March 10 dinner meeting with Kwabena Boahen? Read about it here:

    Kwabena Boahen, professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, joined NCSWA at the Basque Cultural Center to talk about his goal to understand how the brain works by reverse engineering its neural circuits in silicon. His team has already built silicon versions of retinal, cortex, hippocampus and other neural tissue that are up to 1,000 times more power efficient than computers doing the same tasks.


    Coming Award Deadline:

    August 1 is the entry deadline for the 2011 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards for the year July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. Awards will be chosen for the categories of large newspapers, small newspapers, magazines, online, radio, television--spotnews/feature and televisionundefinedin-depth. The category for children’s science news is open to journalists worldwide across all media. Each category winner receives $3,000 at the annual AAAS meeting, with AAAS covering travel and lodging expenses. For more information, visit

    NCSWA About Town

    (and around the world)


    Robin Mejia, freelance science writer who is working on her master’s degree in public health at UC Berkeley, will be heading east for the summer to work at the National Academy of Sciences Council on Populations. “I’ll be back next fall, with a report on how DCSWA activities measure up,” she says.

    Corinna Wu, freelance science writer, is heading to Singapore for a temporary writing job at Nanyang Technological University’s Earth Observatory. She’ll be gone most of May and June, returning in August.


    Erik Vance, freelance science writer, hiking trip leader par excellence and irrepressible jokester, has moved to Mexico. “No one is quite sure why, but he mentioned something about emerging opportunities in narcotics distribution,” Erik wrote in an e-mail. “He politely asks all NCSWA members that if the DEA calls, simply tell them that you have never heard of Erik Vance.” The part about moving to Mexico is for real.
    Christine Heinrichs, author of the book How to Raise Poultry, has had a story about the investigation of the shootings of three elephant seals in 2008 published in The Cambrian, April 7 and April 14.  Read them at

    John Douglas says he has retired from active freelance science writing after a nearly 40-year career. Congratulations, John!

    Mary Jane Pramik won a 2010 Solas Award for travel writing with an essay, “Running in Anglia.”  She has also completed an MFA in Writing (a university teaching

    credential) at the University of San Francisco, with a thesis that’s a multi-generational novel with an environmental bent. “However, I will NOT quit my day job of science and medical writing,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I still like to eat.”


    Robin Meadows is ghostwriting a series of edutorials on water and electricity conservation for a United Arab Emirate that is just beginning to embrace sustainability.  When she asked if they were where the U.S. was in the 1970s, her client laughed and said, “More like the 1800s! ”

    Rob Irion, director of the science writing program at UC Santa Cruz, says this year’s  students are preparing to graduate in early June  and have summer internships lined up around the country. “Please wish them well in their new careers!” Rob says.

    Here are their destinations:

    Nadia Drake: Science News (Washington, DC)

    Melissae Fellet: New Scientist (San Francisco, technology reporting)

    Donna Hesterman: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

    Jane Lee: San Jose Mercury News (Kaiser Foundation health internship)

    Catherine Meyers: American Institute of Physics (College Park, MD)

    Sandeep Ravindran: Chronicle of Higher Education (Washington, DC)

    Keith Rozendal: SETI Institute radio program (Mountain View)

    Danielle Venton: (San Francisco)

    Susan Young: Stanford University Medical School

    Sascha Zubryd: Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University


    New members

    Andrew Heffen of San Carlos, president of Marketfire Strategies, Inc.

    Melissae Fellet of Ben Lomond, a UC Santa Cruz student

    Andrew Daughton of Rohnert Park, a former technical editor and GA newspaper reporter now working as an online journalist

    Andy Freeberg, an account manager and multimedia specialist with Eastwick Communications in San Francisco who recently moved to the area from Washington, DC, where he worked as a multimedia and video producer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

    Rina Shaikh-Lesko of Alameda

    Ridvana Shaikh of Alameda

    Shannon Weiman of San Francisco, a freelance science writer/editor who recently relocated from San Diego, where she completed her PhD in biomedical sciences

    Sujata Gupta of San Francisco, a recent graduate of the science writing program at Johns Hopkins and a freelancer who contributes regularly to New Scientist

    Vanessa Miller-Sims, a post-doc at USC who plans to relocate soon to the SF Bay Area and pursue science writing


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