Northern California Science Writers Association


NCSWHAT, the newsletter of the Northern California Science Writers Association
Editor: Donna Alvarado,
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  • Tuesday, June 05, 2018 5:39 PM | Corinna Wu (Administrator)

    Coming Attractions

    NCSWA Summer Dinner Talk: Stay Tuned

    Date and place TBA

    More information coming soon to your email inbox. For other events, visit the NCSWA site.

    Training, conferences and awards

    Want to attend next year’s World Conference of Science Journalists but can’t afford the airfare to Lausanne, Switzerland?

    June 15 is the deadline to submit a proposal for a session at WCSJ2017. Travel for session organizers and speakers will be covered if there is need. For more information, see the WCSJ2019 website.

    June 29 is the deadline to apply for the 9th annual Journalists in Aging Fellows Program, co-directed by Paul Kleyman at the Journalists Network on Generations and the Gerontological Society of America. For more information, see the website.

    June 30 is the entry deadline for the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Journalists sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) and the Clark/Payne Fund. Applicants must be age 30 or younger, and the winner will receive $1,000 plus expenses to attend ScienceWriters2018, the annual CASW meeting in October in Washington DC. For more information, visit the CASW website.

    July 31 is the entry deadline for the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing's Victor Cohn Award for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. This prize is for work published or broadcast within the last five years that has made a profound and lasting contribution to public awareness and understanding of critical advances in medical science and their impact on human health and well-being. The honoree receives $3,000 and travel expenses to the award ceremony held during ScienceWriters2018, the annual CASW meeting in October in Washington DC. For more information, visit the  CASW website.

    August 1 is the entry deadline for the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards. These awards recognize outstanding reporting for a general audience and honor individuals for their coverage of the sciences, engineering and mathematics. 

    The categories include large newspapers, small newspapers, magazines, online (including podcasts and blogs), radio and television (spot news/feature and in-depth). In addition, the category for children’s science news is open to journalists worldwide across all media. Winners receive a cash award plus expenses to attend the annual AAAS meeting. For more information, visit the AAAS website.

    October 1 is the entry deadline for the Alicia Patterson fellowship, open to full-time print journalists including freelancers. One-year and six-month grants are awarded to working journalists to pursue independent projects of significant interest. They will write articles based on their investigations for The APF Reporter, a magazine published by the Foundation and available on the web. For more information, visit the Alicia Patterson Foundation website.  

    NCSWA About Town

    Liza Gross will be publishing a handbook on investigative reporting for science writers, available through Amazon in early June. The Science Writers' Investigative Reporting Handbook: A Beginner's Guide to Investigations was made possible through an NASW Peggy Girshman Idea grant. It is a practical, step-by-step guide that gives writers -- especially those covering science -- all the tools they’ll need to add accountability reporting to their stories.

    Christine Heinrichs published astoryabout the return of Pismo Beach’s legendary clams in the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Also, she was quoted as a chicken expert in the SLO Tribune.

    Kathryn Jepsen is running for re-election to the board of the National Association of Science Writers.

    New Members

    Erin Brodwin, biotech reporter at Business Insider

    Suzanne Canada, Tanager Medical Writing LLC

    Claris Diaz, student, Cardiff University

    Shira Gordon, personal

    Juhi Kunde, LUNGevity Foundation

    Jennifer Leman, student, UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program

    Robin Pelc, self-employed

    Leena Prasad, Thinkers Ink

    Susan Rambo, freelance technical editor


  • Thursday, June 09, 2016 10:18 PM | Corinna Wu (Administrator)

    Coming Attractions

    NCSWA Summer Dinner Talk: Thursday, August 4

    EXPLORING THE BRAIN: Karl Deisseroth

    Karl Deisseroth, a pathbreaking bioengineer, practicing psychiatrist and pioneering neuroscientist, has developed two brain-exploration technologies that are revolutionizing brain research. One is optogenetics, which involves genetic modification of brain cells so they can be switched on or off by light. The other is CLARITY – replacing the fatty components of brain tissue with a hydrogel substance that leaves the tissue cells intact, yet transparent (!) More information on time and place is coming soon to your email inbox and will be posted on the NCSWA website.

    Save the date

    NCSWA Workshop: Saturday October 8

    NCSWA will offer a workshop on smartphone photography with Lisa Strong, a multimedia storyteller who has worked at the Exploratorium and teaches at the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program. The workshop will be on Saturday October 8 in the charming and photogenic town of Crockett. More information coming later this summer.

    Awards and Training

    Gerontological Society of America Fellowship

    The deadline to apply for the Journalists in Aging Fellowship, sponsored by New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, will be announced by the end of June. Journalists will be selected from both the ethnic news media and general audience press, and each will receive a $1,500 stipend and expense-paid trip to GSA’s annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in November. For more information, visit the GSA website.

    Young Journalists Award

    June 30 is the entry deadline for the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Journalists sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and the Clark/Payne Fund. Applicants must be age 30 or younger, and the winner will receive $1,000 plus expenses to attend the annual meeting of the National Association of Science Writers and the New Horizons briefing of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing in October in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, visit the CASW website.

    Medical Science Reporting Award

    July 31 is the entry deadline for the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing's Victor Cohn Award. This prize is for work published or broadcast within the last five years that has made a profound and lasting contribution to public awareness and understanding of critical advances in medical science and their impact on human health and well-being. The honoree receives $3,000 and travel expenses to the award ceremony, which is during the CASW and NASW annual meetings. For more information, visit the CASW website.

    AAAS Science Journalism

    August 1 is the entry deadline for the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards. The categories include large newspapers, small newspapers, magazines, online (including podcasts and blogs), radio and television (spot news/feature and in-depth). In addition, the category for children’s science news is open to journalists worldwide across all media. In each category, there are 2 awards: gold, with a prize of $5,000, and silver, with a prize of $3,500, plus expenses to attend the annual AAAS meeting. For more information, visit the AAAS website.

    NCSWA About Town

    Ed Blonz, a scientist, syndicated columnist and NCSWA member, had a paper published online May 12 at The Lancet Infectious Diseases titled Zika and GLUT1 (Link to article) with an evidence-based proposal that metabolizable energy from glucose to get from the maternal circulation through the placenta and then through the fetal blood-brain barrier to the developing fetus and fetal brain. Epidemiological evidence suggests that eating certain foods might mitigate the risk. 

    Blake Edgar's article "Powers of Two," about the origin of monogamy in humans, primates and other mammals, was selected for the Scientific American MIND anthology "The Sexual Brain," which published in March. The article initially appeared in a Scientific American theme issue about human evolution.

    Foothill College astronomy professor Andrew Fraknoi is the coauthor of a new book Solar Science: Exploring Sunspots, Seasons, Eclipses, and More, published by the National Science Teachers Association.  In part, the book is designed to get teachers, museum educators, youth group leaders, and others ready for the August 21, 2017, “All-American” eclipse of the sun.  A free excerpt from the book with eclipse maps, times, explanations, and safe viewing instructions is available at:

    Jennifer Huber is now a full-time freelance science writer. She writes every week for Stanford School of Medicine, TOMA Biosciences and Convey Inc. Miscellaneous other science journalism, technical writing and teaching gigs add to her freelance juggle -- but she is happy to be juggling jobs instead of bills.

    Susan McCarthy is back from four months in Palmer Station, Antarctica, where she went on an NSF Artists & Writers grant to write about the only land bird that breeds in Antarctica, the snowy sheathbill (Chionis alba).

    Mary Jean Pramik won a silver medal for "Ghost Ship: USS Hornet Conducts Spook Maneuvers" in the cruise story category of the Travelers' Tales Tenth Annual Solas Awards. At the end of June, she'll be heading off to Hermanos, South Africa, to work with a 3-woman team of shark researchers for 2 weeks, assisting them in their research, enlisted by EarthWatch, an ecoscience/ecotourism nonprofit group.

    Susan Tabor writes to say the Bay Area Sci Comm Meetup will hold its inaugural event on Thursday, June 9, at Palomino Restaurant & Bar on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. See the meetup website for more information.

    Norm Sperling’s Kickstarter raised 157% of its target for Bright-EyeTM Telescopes.
    From a month before launch to a week after closing, he writes, “It was like riding
    a bucking bronco on a roller coaster.”
    He ended up with 108 backers who pledged $31,557 for 47 telescopes. Norm plans to produce the telescopes over the summer, then try to build the enterprise from craft scale to production-line scale.

    Ten students in the 35th graduating class of the UC Santa Cruz Science
    Communication Program
    , many of whom joined NCSWA for events during the

    past year, are embarking on their summer internships -- all in the eastern
    U.S. The latest SciCommies joining our profession are:

    Bethany Augliere: EARTH Magazine (Alexandria, VA/remote)
    Brendan Bane: AGU (Washington D.C.)
    Emily Benson: New Scientist (Boston)
    Laurel Hamers: Science News (Washington D.C.)
    Natalie Jacewicz: NPR (Washington D.C.)
    Amy McDermott: Science News (Washington D.C.)
    Erin Ross: National Institute of General Medical Sciences (Washington D.C.)
    Ramin Skibba: Nature (Washington D.C.)
    Alison Takemura: The Scientist (Boston)
    Lindzi Wessel: STAT (Boston


    Jody Berger, freelance journalist

    Haley Bowling, California Academy of Sciences

    Karen Hao

    Jennifer Haslip, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

    Sandra Lee, Stanford University

    Amy Maxmen, freelance

    Roopa Ramamoorthi, BIO Ventures for Global Health

    Marilyn Smulyan, San Francisco State University

    Annie Sneed, freelancer

    Amanda Solliday, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Rubiya Tuma, Medscape

    Lida Tunesi, UC Berkeley

    Wendy Wolfson, freelance

    Trina Wood, UC Davis

    Margie Wylie, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


  • Wednesday, August 21, 2013 10:18 AM | Anonymous

    NCSWA's Coming Attraction


    September 26 event: New View at the Exploratorium

    NCSWA members are invited to get an inside look at the Exploratorium’s new digs on San Francisco’s waterfront on Thursday evening, Sept. 26. We’ll hear a speaker talk about the Wired Pier Project, where scientists collect data to see how incoming tides affect water conditions, surface currents and the ecosystem of the Bay; how weather affects air quality in San Francisco; and how human behavior and seasonal patterns affect carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and Bay waters. Plus, there will be a catered reception and time to roam the exhibits. Save the date! More information coming soon to your email inbox.

    Upcoming Awards, Conferences and Events 

    On September 6, join NASA Ames for an evening celebration of the LADEE lunar mission from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is free of charge but tickets are required. NASA’s LADEE observatory is a robotic mission that will orbit Earth’s moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust. If all goes according to schedule, participants will watch a live televised broadcast of LADEE being launched to the moon from NASA’s facility in Virginia. For more information, visit 

    October 2-6 is the time, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the place…for the Society of Environmental Journalists 23rd Annual Conference. This year’s event will be all about sustainability, and the program will include presentations on Chattanooga’s fiber-optics system that uses a smart grid and energy-saving street lights. You must be a member or join SEJ by September 9 to get the member registration rate.  For more information, visit SEJ’s website.

    October 4 is the deadline to apply for the Society for Neuroscience Science Journalism Student Awardwhich enables students pursuing a science or medical journalism degree to attend the SfN’s annual meeting. Recipients get complimentary meeting registration, four nights’ lodging and $750 to help defray the expenses of attending the meeting. More information is available at

    November 1-5 are the dates for ScienceWriters 2013, the annual gathering for the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and the National Association of Science Writers. This year it will be in Gainesville, Florida, offering the usual workshops, science briefings and field trips. Discounted early-bird registration ends September 17, and regular registration closes on October 16. Travel grants are available to lower the cost of attending, with deadlines for applying from September 3 to 12. For more information and registration, visit

    November 1 is the deadline to apply for the James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public. This award is given to recognize, encourage and stimulate outstanding reporting to the general public that increases knowledge and understanding of chemistry, chemical engineering and related fields. Work may be in print, radio, television, films, the lecture platform, books, or pamphlets for the lay public. Winners receive $3,000 and traveling expenses to the next American Chemical Society national meeting. For more information, visit the ACS website, click on “Funding & Awards” and “browse awards”  or e-mail

    NCSWA Around Town

    Tom Abate became associate director of communications at Stanford School of Engineering at the end of July. In that role he will write about the faculty and graduate research at the school. Immediately prior to this, Tom worked for two years as a local editor for, and from 1992 through 2010 he was technology, biotechnology, and economics reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Science filmmaker Ruth Carranza of Silicon Run Productions was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for the production of two educational videos on emerging technologies.  Previews of the first video, "MEMS: Making Micro Machines," and the new "Nanotechnology: The World Beyond Micro" can be viewed at Carranza's videos are designed for undergraduate courses and industrial training programs.

    Andrew Fraknoi, Foothill College astronomy instructor and chair of the astronomy department, has won the 2013 Faraday Science Communicator Award from the National Science Teachers’ Association. The award is given each year to an individual who has inspired and elevated the public’s interest in science. Before coming to Foothill College, Fraknoi served for 14 years as the executive director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, an international scientific and educational organization, headquartered in San Francisco.

    Jan Hopson’s article on the long-term brain effects of binge drinking in high school and college appeared in the August/September issue of Scientific American Mind. You can read a synopsis of the article on the magazine’s website

    Erin Jarvis, graduate student at UC-Berkeley’s integrative biology program, recently took over as editor for the Berkeley Science Review Blog, UC-Berkeley affiliates are welcome to send submissions and story suggestions her way (non-Berkeley affiliates considered). Jarvis would like to hear from any NCSWA members willing to volunteer their science writing expertise for a workshop for grad student science writers (neuroscientists, chemists, physicists and biologists with little journalism training).

    Robin Marks, NCSWA president, says six brave teachers will pilot the first semester of a yearlong anatomy and physiology curriculum she is writing for the National Academies Foundation. She hopes the lessons inspire at least a few 10th graders to more deeply appreciate their phalanges, gastrocnemii, and cerebral cortices. 

    On the weekend of Aug 16, about 20 NCSWAns, including some science-writer offspring, visited the Sagehen Creek Field Station, one of 38 nature and research reserves in the UC Natural Reserve System. They enjoyed some beautiful weather while being hosted by reserve manager Jeff Brown. Saturday morning, Jeff gave a presentation of some of the work going on at Sagehen, most notably a project for forest and fire management that has garnered the approval of environmentalists and timber resource companies, and is being expanded by the Forest Service to include 400,000 acres in the Sierra. The group was also able to have a look in the fish house, which is below water level and has a glass wall letting them see the fish. Meanwhile, Sagehen volunteers photographed small mammal specimens for their data collection and let NCSWAns examine the sampling of bats and chipmunks. Jeff also gave a tour of the reserve, showing the weather station instruments and taking NCSWA members to a plot of forest where the experimental management techniques have been implemented. Afterward, the group enjoyed a plentiful potluck dinner, followed by a heated battle of Bananagrams till the stars came out. 

    Christopher Salentine is transitioning from a career as a research scientist, where he did a lot of science writing, into a career as a science writer.

    Students in the UC Santa Cruz science writing program, who attended several NCSWA events this past year, graduated on June 7 and scattered across the country for internships. They are:

    Liz Devitt: Nature Medicine, New York
    Ryder Diaz: KQED radio, San Francisco
    Paul Gabrielsen: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
    Chris Palmer: The Scientist / National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
    Laura Poppick:, New York
    Kelly Servick: Science, Washington DC
    Rina Shaikh-Lesko: CA Institute for Regenerative Medicine, San Francisco
    Jessica Shugart: Science News, Washington DC
    Thomas Sumner: American Geophysical Union, Washington DC

    Nick Weiler, a graduate student in neurosciences, invites NCSWA members to check out NeuWrite-West, a community of scientists and writers at Stanford University “who are passionate about finding the elegant space between clarity and accuracy in communicating scientific ideas with society.” The group holds biweekly writers' workshops, hosts guest speakers from the world of science journalism, writes articles for Stanford's NeuroBlog, and produces a weekly podcast, called NeuroTalk. “We would love to include more local writers in our meetings, either as regular members or occasional visitors,” Weiler says. If interested, please contact for more information or to sign up for the mailing list.

    New Members

    Hal Cobb, South Bay Writers

    Nira Datta, freelance

    Sasha Harris-Lovett, UC Berkeley

    Jahlela Hasle, UC Berkeley

    Erin Jarvis, UC Berkeley

    Suzee Lee, UC San Francisco

    Sybil Lockhart, ProZyme, Inc.

    Anne Marie Nguyen

    Christopher Salentine

    Erin Salter, Owen Software, freelance

    Lisa Winer, independent



  • Tuesday, May 28, 2013 10:39 PM | Corinna Wu (Administrator)

    NCSWA's Coming Attraction:

    Summer event: Behind the scenes at the Exploratorium 

    More information and date coming soon

    Miss the April dinner? Read about it here:

    Geophysicist Mark Zoback of Stanford University spoke to NCSWA members at the Thirsty Bear pub in San Francisco about fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, and whether it can be done in an environmentally responsible way. Zoback, who has studied the geophysics of shale gas and oil production for 30 years, said the key to protecting the environment is to ensure proper well construction. The risk of contaminating drinking water is low in North America, he said, because shale rock lies about one mile below the ground surface, while water aquifers are much closer to the surface. Zoback emphasized, however, that we need strong laws and regulations to ensure responsible engineering and construction. An article on Zoback’s talk was written by NCSWA attendee Laura Poppick and appears on the website of the American Geophysical Union.

    Coming Awards, Deadlines and Training:

    May 31 is the deadline to enter the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation’s contest for environmental journalism. The award recognizes work by an individual, group, or organization for print and other media that furthers the dissemination of accurate and scientifically-based information on the environment. More information is available at the RNRF website.

    July 1 is the deadline to apply for the Journalists in Aging Fellowship, sponsored by New America Media in collaboration with the Gerontological Society of America. A total of 17 journalists will be selected from both the ethnic news media and general audience press, who will receive a $1,500 stipend and expense-paid trip to GSA’s annual meeting in New Orleans in November. Details and application are available on the GSA website.

    July 2 is the entry deadline for the Ev Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Journalists sponsored by the National Association of Science Writers and the Clark/Payne Fund. The 2013 award will be given for excellence in science writing published in nontechnical, print or online journalism publications for the year ending June 29, 2013. Applicants must be age 30 or younger.  Eligible topics include writing in biological, physical, environmental, computer, and space sciences, along with technology, mathematics, health, and science policy.  The winner will receive $1,000 plus expenses to attend the annual meeting of the National Association of Science Writers and the New Horizons briefing of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) in October.

    August 1 is the entry deadline for the 2013 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards for the year July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013. Awards will be chosen for the categories of large newspapers, small newspapers, magazines, online (including podcasts and blogs), radio and television (spot news/feature and in-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 the AAAS site.

    NCSWA About Town

    It was standing room only at San Francisco’s Bazaar Café for the Bay Area launch of The Science Writers' Handbook, the new book that includes chapters by NCSWA members Monya Baker, Doug Fox, Liza Gross, Thomas Hayden (who also co-edited the book) and Robin Mejia. What did you miss? Monya ran backwards up an escalator to land her first assignment with The Economist. Doug slept with his laptop in Antarctica to make sure it would boot up. Liza's chapter questions the need for life-work balance -- and she's proving her point by working at PLoS Biology and freelancing. Tom kidded that he loves to teach writing because now he doesn't have to write, and Robin is getting a PhD so she'll be the best of both worlds. The May 3rd event was part of San Francisco's “Ask a Scientist” series.

    Nurith Amitai is working as a freelance science writer for the open science initiative Cancer Commons, writing the Lung Cancer Dispatch (a newsfeed for patients and caregivers). Nurith also wrote an article for the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable Review’s science writing competition that will be featured on the Roundtable Review website.

    Jascha Hoffman is writing an arts and events column for the Tuesday science section of the New York Times, called “Scan.”

    Jennifer Huber, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, taught a science writing course for UC Berkeley Extension’s Professional Writing Certificate Program this spring. She is also covering the health beat for KQED Science and writing features for UCB College of Engineering.

    Rob Irion, director of the UC Santa Cruz science writing program, wrote the cover story for the July 2013 issue of National Geographic. The article, "It All Began in Chaos," describes the solar system's raucous youth, from comets born when the solar system turned itself inside out to a violent pummeling of Earth and the moon hundreds of millions later when the giant planets shifted their orbits. This is Rob's third piece for the magazine but his first cover story. He'll do a public reading and Q&A at Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, July 10.

    Paul Kleyman, editor of the ethnic elders newsbeat at New America Media, is about to reach a milestone – the 400th article posted on NAM’s elders website since he helped start it a little more than four years ago. Kleyman also announced that the MetLife Foundation has approved a $100,000 grant for the fourth year of the Journalists in Aging Fellowships, which is a collaboration with the Gerontological Society of America. NAM also received a grant from the California Health Care Foundation for a journalism mini-fellowship on palliative care for ethnic media reporters around the state.

    Lisa Krieger’s nine-part “Cost of Dying” series in the San Jose Mercury News, which described the emotional, physical, and financial cost of end-of-life care, won three first-place journalism awards this spring:  for multimedia storytelling in the Best of the West competition, for consumer/feature articles in the Association of Health Care Journalists contest, and for explanatory journalism in the Society of Professional Journalists competition for Northern California. The series has been reprinted as a special section and can be found online on the Mercury News website.

    Robin Meadows has joined NASW's freelance committee, so let her know if you have any requests! You can reach her at

    Paul Preuss, a science writer in the communications department at Berkeley Lab for 16 years, will be retiring July 1. “There was so much news out of here it was hard to keep up,” he writes. “When I arrived, I wrote stories about the curious fact that the universe seemed to be expanding at an accelerating rate, and 14 years later ended up orchestrating press events for Saul Perlmutter’s 2011 Nobel Prize.” Before joining the lab he was a filmmaker, novelist, and freelance writer – “all pursuits I look forward to taking up again,” he says.

    Kathleen Wong received the 2013 Harold Gilliam Award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting from The Bay Institute on April 11, for her 2011 book, Natural History of San Francisco Bay. She is also coeditor of another book, The Environmental Legacy of the UC Natural Reserve System, published this month by UC Press.

    Corinna Wu became an associate editor at Chemical & Engineering News in April. She edits online research news from freelancers and also helps edit a column in the weekly magazine.

    New Members

    Steven Bedard of San Francisco, digital producer for WGBH/NOVA (

    Charlotte Capaldo of UC Berkeley

    Diana Paula Hallare, freelance writer and college lecturer (@Cytoleadership)

    Erica Klarreich of Berkeley, mathematics and science journalist whose work has appeared in Nature, New Scientist, American Scientist, Science News and

    Mary Lee MacKichan of Palo Alto, cancer biologist who is striking out on her own to become a science consultant and writer

    Carolyn McMillan, former newspaper reporter now manager of content strategy at the UC Office of the President

    Sarah Phelan of Alameda, UC Berkeley student

    Fanjini Raghunath of Mountain View, reporter for the Palo Alto Weekly

    Joshua Roebke of San Francisco, physicist and author who currently is a visiting scholar in the history of science at UC Berkeley, where he is writing a book on the history of 20th century particle physics

    Annalisa VanHook of Oakland, former post-doc and now web editor of Science Signaling, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

    Nicholas Weiler of San Francisco, a graduate student in neuroscience at Stanford University who runs a science writing group called NeuWrite-West

    We also welcome back these returning members:

    Tom Abate of San Leandro, a former newspaper reporter now reporting and editing for the San Leandro Patch

    Andrew Fraknoi of Los Altos Hills, chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College, prolific author and long-time science educator

    Anne Rosenthal of Palo Alto, a science writer for SF Nature

  • 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

  • Sunday, November 25, 2012 8:10 PM | Donna Alvarado (Administrator)
    November 2012
    November 2012 Newsletter for the Northern California Science Writers Association
    Editor: Donna Alvarado,

    NCSWA's Coming Attractions

    Dec. 5 Holiday Dinner: Hear the Author of “Nerds on Wall Street”
    Come enjoy our annual holiday dinner while getting educated to the wiles of Wall Street and financial markets. Our dinner speaker is Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s David Leinwebber, who holds a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, has worked as a computer scientist at MIT, and has founded two financial technology firms with clients including many global brokerage and investment firms. In keeping with our annual holiday tradition, our December dinner guests will include out-of-town colleagues visiting from the AGU (American Geophysical Union) meeting in SF, and we’ll have a top-notch line-up for the science trivia contest with whacky door prizes galore. Meet at Picaro Restaurant in SF’s Mission district, with a menu that includes paella, calamari, garlic shrimp and other Spanish tapas.
    To reserve a spot, please go to NCSWA’s new web site. First-time users can click on “Forgot password” to generate a new password.

    Jan. 12 Workshop: All the Data You Can Eat
     Save the date for NCSWA’s Data Journalism Workshop at the University of San Francisco on Jan. 12, 2013. The workshop will be led by Peter Aldhous, San Francisco Bureau Chief of New Scientist, and will be affordable thanks to a generous Ideas Grant from NASW. Now’s your chance to learn a powerful new journalism tool that is increasingly in demand: mining datasets for specific information that tells a compelling story, and can be visualized easily and simply!

    Coming Awards, Deadlines and Training:

    Entries for the 2013 National Association of Science Writers annual Science in Society Journalism Award open on Wednesday, Nov. 28. Check back at (“Awards/Grants”) on that date for a link to the online entry platform and complete rules for material published or broadcast in 2012. The deadline for entering is Feb. 1, 2013. Categories for the 2013 awards include books, commentary and opinion, science reporting, science reporting for a local or regional market, and longform science reporting.

    Nominations for the American Geophysical Union’s annual awards contest for excellence in science journalism open on Jan. 16, 2013, with a deadline of March 16. The AGU’s David Perlman Award, named for San Francisco Chronicle’s science reporter, recognizes work done on a deadline of one week or less and comes with a stipend of $5,000. The AGU’s Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence is given for science feature writing, defined as work prepared with a deadline of more than one week. For more information, visit the AGU’s site and fill in the window for a keyword search with “science journalism.”

    The Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment has ended, with the Grantham Foundation shifting its collaboration with the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting to science training programs for reporters. Metcalf will offer one-week and two-day programs on specific topics including water quality, environmental toxins and climate change impacts, with information on its website at

    NCSWA About Town

    Robert Adler has written another cover feature for New Scientist, “Neutrinos: the next big small thing,” in the Sept. 10 issue. The story describes the ways in which neutrino research may lead physics beyond the standard model.

    Janet Byron has a new job as senior communications consultant for the Kaiser Permanente division of research in Oakland, where she will be helping to publicize peer-reviewed studies published by Kaiser Permanente scientists.

    Christine Heinrichs’s article on otters was published on Audubon's web site, She was elected to the Mayborn's Ten Spurs Society, and her story was published in the 2012 Ten Spurs literary journal,

    Becky Oskin is back to working full-time as a staff writer for, after four years of part-time freelancing. She works remotely from Davis.

    Paul Kleyman, director of the ethnic elders newsbeat for New America Media, headed to San Diego recently to co-run the MetLife Foundation Journalists in Aging Fellows program, a collaboration between New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America.


    Amy Adams, communications manager at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

    Nurith Amitai, a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Diego

    Diana Divecha of Berkeley, a developmental psychologist

    Nadia Drake, a freelancer for Wired Science

    Diana Hembree of Berkeley

    Daniela Hernandez of Redwood City, community manager at

    Hannah Krakauer of Los Altos Hills, a writer with New Scientist

    John Moir of Santa Cruz, an author and environmental journalist whose special interest is the preservation of biodiversity.

    Leena Prasad of San Francisco, a science writer with

    Sarah Sargent of Chicago, who will be moving to the Bay Area soon. She does exhibit writing at the Field Museum of Natural History

    Michelle Slocombe of San Francisco, who is at San Francisco State University

    Sarah Stanley of Mountain View, a freelancer

    Amy Stewart, a fourth-year undergraduate at UC Davis majoring in microbiology who writes on a part-time basis for Techwire ( and freelances for the American Society of Animal Science

    Thomas Sumner, a student in the UC Santa Cruz Science Communications program

    Janet White of Richmond, Executive Editor of the California Agriculture journal

    Marcus Woo, a freelancer

    NCSWA also welcomes three returning members:

    Glennda Chui, a senior editor at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

    Steve Tokar of San Francisco, a freelancer

    John Watson of Sunnyvale, a contract writer with the UC Davis Health System

  • 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.

  • Thursday, May 03, 2012 10:24 PM | Anonymous

    NCSWA’s Coming Attractions:

    May Spring Dinner Meeting

    Thursday, May 17, join NCSWA members for a dinner event with Stanford associate professor Atul Butte, who will explain how science is being transformed by the data revolution. Butte's lab team has mined databases to find a gene that may play a causal role in Type 2 diabetes and has produced the equivalent of a molecular to identify off-patent drugs that are candidates to treat diseases.

    Join us at Mijita, a Mexican restaurant in San Francisco's Ferry Building, at 6:30 p.m. for
    appetizers, a buffet dinner and talk. For more information and to register, visit the NCSWA Website.

    Special tour of Buckminster Fuller exhibit at Museum of Modern Art
    Saturday, July 14, NCSWA members are invited to a special tour of "The Utopian
    Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area" at SF MOMA. This tour will be held for NCSWA members alone, starting at 1:30 p.m. for about an hour. To read more about the exhibit, visit the SFMOMA Website. More information coming soon!

    Coast Range Hike and Overnight Camp at Angelo Reserve
    Saturday, August 25, the University of California's Natural Reserve System is opening its private land at Angelo Coast Range Reserve, north of Fort Bragg, to NCSWA members for a hike guided by UC Berkeley scientists talking about research at the site. The hike will be followed by an (optional) overnight stay, camping or bunking in cabins. Members are invited to bring spouses, partners and kids. More information to come, but mark your calendars for this special event.

    Miss the March dinner? Read about it here:

    Stanford neuroscientist Tom Rando joined NCSWA at the Basque Cultural Center for a talk on how humans may one day reset the aging clock. Rando is pursuing evidence that substances found in the blood of the young may be able to rejuvenate aging bodies, as seen in lab studies of mice. Rando's work suggests it may be possible to identify biochemical stimuli that can induce stem cells in old tissues to repair injuries as effectively as in young tissues. This may have implications for the fields of regenerative medicine and stem cell transplantation.

    NCSWA About Town

    Janet Byron and Robin Meadows were part of a team that won a bronze award for technical publications from ACE (the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences) for California Agriculture's special issue called "Food as Medicine: Can what we eat help cure what ails us?" Robin also won an ACE bronze award for a news article called "Biofactors in food linked to
    health benefits" that was in the same issue. Janet won a silver ACE award for
    editing a research article called "California agritourism operations and their
    economic potential are growing" in the April-June 2011 issue of California Agriculture.

    Liza Gross, senior editor at PLoS Biology and a freelance writer, started blogging for KQED Quest in February at She
    writes primarily about ecology, wildlife and environment health, and she says
    she'll try to keep posts on mountain lions to a minimum.

    Christine Heinrichs is organizing an evening at Hearst Castle with videos and adventure by marine biologist Holly Lohuis, field producer for Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Future
    Society underwater video team. She'll describe her experiences while showing
    video on Hearst Castle Theater's giant 50-foot screen in San Simeon, Saturday
    May 5. $10 tickets are available at

    Judith Horstman is publishing her fourth book on the brain, The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain: The Neuroscience of Making the Most of Your Mature Mind, in late May.

    Robin Marks, president of NCSWA, is teaming up with Fog City Tutoring on a series of three summer science writing workshops for kids grades 5-8, called "Discovering Writing through Science Explorations."

    John Moir received the first-place award for the 2012 Outstanding Profile Article from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Moir's article, "The Chameleon," appeared in
    the Washington Post's Sunday magazine and tells the story of a US Fish & Wildlife Service undercover agent who works to save endangered species. The award was presented at the ASJA conference in New York City in April.

    Corinna Wuis consulting with the Minerva Foundation on media outreach for the Tenth International Conference on Neuroesthetics, "The Importance of Being Playful," a free eventthat takes place on May 26-27 at UC Berkeley.

    New Members:

    Sara Reardon of San Francisco, a reporter for New Scientist.

    Deborah Cowing, an aspiring science writer. After getting her PhD in molecular biology and doing post-doctoral research at UCSF, she took off time to raise two kids and is now
    hoping to break into science writing.

    Kathleen Masterson, who formerly reported for Harvest Public Media in Des Moines, Iowa. She recently took an environment reporter position with Capital Public Radio in
    Sacramento, where she will continue to follow agriculture and environment issues.

    Miriam Pinchuk of San Francisco, a freelance writer and editor who recently returned to the Bay Area. Her interests are medicine, the environment and scientific literacy - making science accessible to people who think science is too difficult.

    ShaunParker, a student at SF State.

    Brenda Mengeling of Davis.

  • Wednesday, February 29, 2012 10:28 PM | Anonymous

    NCSWA’S Coming Attraction: Save the Date

    March 21 Spring Dinner Meeting

    Wednesday, March 21,
    join NCSWA members for our spring dinner event to hear Stanford neuroscientist Tom Rando talk about whether we can reset the aging clock. Rando is pursuing evidence that we mortals might someday be able to rejuvenate our aging bodies with substances found in the blood of youngsters. Doors open at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco at 6:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit

    Miss the Annual Holiday Dinner with Cris Benton? Read about it here:

    NCSWA members gathered  at Jannah restaurant in San Francisco for the annual holiday event featuring our science trivia contest and a presentation from UC Berkeley professor Cris Benton, who showed the spectacular results of his pioneering work in kite aerial photography. Benton has been documenting the restoration of wetlands in San Francisco Bay following the purchase of 15,000 acres of salt ponds from Cargill in 2003.   

    Awards, Fellowships and Coming Deadlines

    Entries are due March 15 for the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism. The 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 must be focused on an environmental subject occurring in or affecting the North American West, and must have been published, broadcast or posted during 2011. Entry forms for the Knight-Risser Prize are available at

    Entries are due April 2 for the Society of Environmental Journalists Awards for Reporting on the Environment. SEJ has added a category for photojournalism. Cash prizes are award for seven categories including books, print, online and broadcast. For more information, visit

    Applications are due May 15 for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Ocean Science Journalism Fellowships. 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

    Jascha Hoffman, a science writer, is also a songwriter and he will release his new album, “The Future Limited,” on March 6. It is available for free download at There is also a science-fiction music video from the album , titled “Jascha – ‘Limited,’” by filmmaker and fellow science journalist John Pavlus, with mashed-up scenes from five classic science fiction films including “2001,” “Robocop” and “Tron.” They depict a lonely machine searching for human contact. See it at

    Norm Sperling, editor of the Journal of Irreproducible Results, is getting ready to embark on his several-year, cross-country “Great Science Trek” in fall 2012. He describes it on his blog in “Tell Me Where to Go, And What to Do When I Get There,” at In preparation for his move from a 2,000-square-foot house to a 200-square-foot RV, he’ll be selling a few thousand science books, if anyone is interested.

    David Gilbert,
    public affairs manager at DOE’s Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, writes to say NCSWA members can have free registration to the Genomics of Energy & Environment meeting. For more information, visit

    Christine Heinrichs
    was off to Gainesville, Florida, on Feb. 22 to attend Cinema Verde,, for a showing of “Mad City Chickens,” a documentary in which she was interviewed. She’ll talk about chickens and sell her book, ”How to Raise Chickens.”

    Diane Kern has a new blog at She is posting frequently to outline the framework of a new psychology that is cross-fertilized by neuroscience, particularly the treatment of the brain as an information management system. She invites visitors to look at “mind stuff” in ways that are scientifically accurate and beneficial.

    Danna Staaf
    has joined the science blogging team at KQED Quest.  She writes about the intersection of science and art – and sometimes food, too. Danna is a cephalopodiatrist and she has blogs at and

     Joe Devney has started teaching an undergraduate class in linguistics at Holy Names University.

    Christina Deptula is an editor at Synchronized Chaos magazine who is recruiting nonfiction and sci-fi writers. She also gives personal tours of Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center and pursues freelance writing while caring for her elderly grandmother.

    Kris Novak is now blogging about GI disorders at /. She also still works as science editor of the American Gastroenterological Association, editing research and review articles as well as writing news.

    New Members

    Hemai Parthasarathy, a senior partner at Torch Communications in San Francisco, specializes in scientific communications for biotech companies and research institutes.

    Eric Katz  of Oakland.

    Cat Aboudara, a freelance blogger for KQED Quest who is interested in starting a bi-weekly writing salon in San Francisco.


    Jon Weiner, manager of communications & media relations for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and former head of media relations at Caltech. Prior to that, he served as executive director of public relations for USC's Health Sciences Campus in Los Angeles and, for 10 years, worked in the broadcast news business at CBS News and CBS and NBC affiliates around the country.


    Michael Coren of San Francisco, a reporter covering science, economics and the environment for FastCompany, Foreign Policy and other magazines. He co-founded MajorPlanet Studios to produce multimedia narratives for tablets and the Web. He was a science editor of, managing editor of Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post and a Jakarta-based correspondent for Newsweek and the Christian Science Monitor.


    Elizabeth Devitt of Capitola, a veterinarian and freelance writer.


    Alexander Mayer of Oakland.


    Michael Woods of Menlo Park, a Public Information Officer at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC).


    Emily Coren of Santa Cruz, a science writer and illustrator at, an interactive, informal science education platform. She is using new media to improve accessibility to science through an exploratory illustrated medium.


    Katherine Bourzac, a freelancer in San Francisco.


    Norma VelazquezUlloa of San Francisco.


    Ann Thryft of Boulder Creek, a freelance writer specializing in technology, environment and technology features.


    Anne Stauffer of San Jose.


    Phyllis Brown of Sacramento.


    Monique Inciarte of El Cerrito.


    Quynh Tran of Castro Valley.

  • Tuesday, November 29, 2011 10:46 PM | Anonymous
    NCSWA’s Coming Attraction:

    Holiday Dinner with Cris Benton
    Professor of Architecture, UC Berkeley

    Intimate Aerials: Photography using Kite-Lofted Cameras
    Join us for Middle Eastern food with a NorCal twist and a speaker who's above the rest (literally) at our annual holiday shindig. Cris Benton's talk will chronicle 15 years of aerial photography using kite-lofted cameras that offer a fresh perspective of familiar landscapes in ways that challenge our spatial sensibilities. The technique yields images from a range of altitudes (10-300 feet above the ground) that are too low for conventional aircraft. Benton will show examples from the Bay Area including the South San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds that are being restored as wetlands. His talk will touch on the history of aerial photography, the equipment and techniques used and motivations for using kites in today. As an art form or a remote sensing tool, Cris' low-level approach yields images that are both beautiful and useful. Click on the following link for more information.

    Miss the Oct. 4 dinner meeting with Colin Milburn? Read about it here:

    NCSWA members gathered at Pyramid Ale House in Berkeley to hear Colin Milburn, a UC Davis professor, talk about whether science fiction leads the way to scientific discovery. Milburn described how our culture influences the direction of scientific research, with molecular biologists and nanotechnology researchers exploiting unique properties of video games to run innovative experiments. 

    Coming Award Deadlines:

    Entries for the National Association of Science Writers annual Science in Society Journalism Award are due by Feb. 1, 2012, for material published or broadcast in 2011. Entry forms will be available at beginning in December. Click on the following NASW link for more information, where you can also see the 2010 rules and entry categories, and scroll down for each previous year's winners.

    Nominations for the American Geophysical Union’s annual awards contest for excellence in science journalism open on Jan. 15, 2012, with a deadline of March 15.
    The AGU’s David Perlman Award, named for San Francisco Chronicle’s science reporter, recognizes work published with deadline pressure of one week or less and comes with a stipend of $5,000. The AGU’s Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence is given for science feature writing, defined as work prepared with a deadline of more than one week. For more information, visit the AGU’s site and fill in the window for a keyword search with “science journalism.”

    Journalists from all media are invited to submit entries in January for the seventh annual Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment, which awards $75,000 to the top winner. Up to three additional entries will receive $5,000 awards of special merit. Book entries must be postmarked by Jan. 9, 2012, and all other entries by Jan. 30. More information is available at .

    Entries for the Thomas L. Stokes Award for Best Energy Writing, sponsored by the National Press Foundation, are due by Jan. 31, 2012. The competition has a $1,000 award and citation for best analysis, commentary or reporting on the subject of energy and natural resources, in any form undefined oil, gas, coal, nuclear, water, solar, etc. The work must have been published in the U.S. between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. Visit the website at for details.

    NCSWA About Town:

    --Robert Adler wrote the cover story for New Scientist’s Nov. 26 issue, on the different kinds of “multiverses” we might live in, including our own universe and the multitude of string-theory universes. Check it out online if you have a subscription, or you may find a print copy at Barnes & Noble stores, Robert says.

    --Judith Horstman will publish her third book (in a series of four) on the brain for Scientific American, in late December. Titled “The Scientific American Book of Love, Sex and the Brain: The Neuroscience of How, When, Why and Who We Love,”  the book will be available on at

    --Janet Byron and Robin Meadows are writing a fun field guide to California agriculture called “What’s That Crop?” Designed to help us identify crops at 65 miles per hour, their book will be published by Heyday. Until then, you can follow along on Facebook at , on Tumblr at http://whatsthatcrop.tumblr and Twitter at .

    --Norm Sperling, editor of the Journal of Irreproducible Results, reports that his latest paperback, “Don’t Try This in High School,” was published in May. Topics in the biology section include “Insect Rights” and “Budgies as Weapons,” while the math section has “Rebuttal to Multiplication” and another section has “Deep Space Hand Salutes.” A book description is available on Sperling’s blog at 

    --Mark Shwartz left the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University in August to become communications/energy writer at Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy,

    --Andy Freeberg has started work as the media manager in the office of communications at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford. NCSWA members who have any questions about SLAC are welcome to contact him at .

    --Paul Kleyman of New American Media just returned from a Boston meeting where NAM collaborated with the Gerontological Society of America to conduct a program on aging for 16 journalists from the ethnic and mainstream media. The program, supported by $100,000 from the MetLife Foundation, provided each reporter with a $1,500 stipend plus meeting trip expenses. For a list of the second-year fellows, including some from Northern California, visit

    --Christine Heinrichs attended the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in Miami, including the post-conference tour of the Keys. She participated in the release of a rehabilitated loggerhead sea turtle from The Turtle Hospital on Marathon Key. Visit the photos and videos she posted at

    New Members:

    Suzanne Spong, associate director for cell biology at Fibrinogen, who is hoping to get more involved in science writing.

    Hemai Parthasarathy of San Francisco

    Eric Katz of Oakland

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