IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows Program
Apply for 2015 Program
Become a Paid Intern Next Summer at a Mass Media
Report on Today's Sci-Tech News: Become an
IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow
is seeking applications from U.S. IEEE
undergraduate and graduate student members to
work full-time in the summer of 2015 as
reporters, researchers and production assistants
in mass media organizations nationwide —
including radio and TV stations, newspapers and
magazines — both print and electronic.
In addition to receiving a weekly stipend and
travel expenses, IEEE-USA engineering mass media
fellows gain valuable work experience and
sharpen their communication skills as they
research, write and report on today's sci-tech
news for the general public. Fellows have
interned at such media outlets as The Los
Angeles Times, National Public Radio, The Oregonian and
IEEE-USA is the only engineering organization in
the AAAS* Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows Program, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014.
To download an application, go to
For more information, contact Chris McManes at email@example.com.
Deadline for applications: Wednesday, 15 January
* American Association for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Since 2000, IEEE-USA has sponsored 17 engineering students in the American Association
for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellows
Program. The fellowship is designed to
strengthen the connections among scientists,
engineers and journalists by placing advanced
science and engineering students in newsrooms
across the country. The program, begun in 1974,
has placed more than 620 fellows with newspapers, magazines, radio stations and TV networks.
Mass Media Fellows
"Diary of a Mass Media Fellow,"
IEEE-USA in ACTION,
"Diary of a Mass Media Fellow: Computer Scientist in a Newsroom,"
IEEE-USA in ACTION,
Media Fellowship," Maddalena Jackson,
IEEE-USA Today's Engineer,
"Mass Media 101: The AAAS Mass Media
Fellowship," Sourish Basu, IEEE
Potentials, p. 7, Nov./Dec. 2007
"Reflections of an engineer/science
writer," Abby Vogel, IEEE
Potentials, pgs. 6-7, Nov./Dec.
Full-page ad in
Nov./Dec. 2007 issue of
IEEE-USA mass media fellows work for 10 weeks in
the summer as reporters, researchers and
production assistants in mass media
organizations nationwide. Fellows collaborate
with media professionals to enhance coverage of
science- and engineering- related issues in the
media in order to improve public understanding
and appreciation of science and technology.
Through the program, fellows observe and
participate in the process by which events and
ideas become news; improve their communication
skills by learning to describe complex technical
subjects in a manner understandable to the lay
public; and increase their understanding of
editorial decision making and the way in which
information is effectively disseminated.
Fellowship applicants must be U.S. members of
the IEEE and must be enrolled college or
university juniors or seniors or graduate or
post-graduate students in the natural, physical,
health, engineering or social sciences. IEEE-USA
underwrites the expenses for the IEEE-USA
IEEE-USA's Mass Media Fellows
2013 Daniel Blustein served as IEEE-USA's engineering mass media fellow by working in the summer of 2013 at The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer. He is completing work on his Ph.D. in biology at Northeastern University in Boston.
Dan earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Kalamazoo (Mich.) College in 2006. While there he founded the Kalamazoo Broadcast Co., which produced programming for campus and local TV outlets. He then worked in the film industry in Los Angeles for a talent agency and several production companies.
Here's a sampling of the stories he wrote for the News & Observer: oyster farming, monitoring black bears, remote-controlled cockroaches, urging employers to use caution when evaluating candidates through social media and how not all happiness is equally healthy.
Ian C. Campbell
2012 IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow Ian C. Campbell reported on science and technology in the summer of 2012 at
The Oregonian in Portland, Ore. He was the second IEEE-USA fellow to intern atthe newspaper. Ian was a 2012 Ph.D. student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.
During his internship, Ian posted 33 stories for
The Oregonian, including a front-page story in the Metro section on Oregon Tech students installing solar panels at schools and hospitals in rural Tanzania. Other articles covered such subjects as the search for water on Mars, harvesting Hawaiian plants to make jet fuel and clean diesel, the probability of a major earthquake by along the southern coast of Oregon in the next 50 years, and zombie bees. To view all of Ian's stories, go to
In his application for the program, the 2012 Mass Media Fellow stated: "As a biomedical engineer, I feel it is my duty not only to conduct high-quality research, but also to act as an ambassador of sci-tech to the general public. I hope to improve the general impression of science and engineering by making them more relatable to the average person. I want to do more than just conduct elegant research in my specialty; I want to help the public understand my field and how it affects it."
Ian had considerable experience communicating with the public, especially elementary and high-school students, on science, engineering and technology. As one example, he volunteered in a third-grade classroom in a public school in Atlanta, helping youngsters understand that "science class can be mean more than worksheets."
In a letter of recommendation, a former chair of the St. Olaf College Physics Department praised Ian as the first author of a manuscript on Antarctic ice streams presented at a fall 2006 meeting of the American Geophysical Union and an article on the same subject published in the
Journal of Glaciology in 2008.
As one of Ian's co-advisers at the Emory University School of Medicine wrote: "He is simply the smartest graduate student I have ever worked with and one of the best writers." A second co-adviser cited Ian's undergraduate work at St. Olaf College as greatly contributing to his writing ability. He graduated magna cum laude in 2007, having double majored in physics and math
— with a curriculum heavy in writing, philosophy, Latin and the classics.
As one of Ian's writing samples for the program, he considered "Home brewing beer: delicious home science," which "requires no technical background for success but which can scale into a complex project integrating disciplines from cell biology to chemistry to heat transfer and construction."
IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow
Brandon Blakeley spent his 10-week sci-tech
media internship at The Oregonian in
Portland, Ore. His first news story
appeared on the front page of the Living
Section and described how Twitter "has
become a trove of human language and
interactions unmatched in size, detail
and availability." As Brandon explained
in his wrap-up report to AAAS/IEEE-USA:
"This story contributed to the public by
answering the oft-muddled question ‘what
exactly is computer science research?'
It also contributes to academia by
unifying seemingly disparate research
contributions under a common theme." www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2011/06/
Another major front-page Living Section
story addressed what Brandon's reported
is his main interest: the intersection
of science and policy. In this article,
he covered national ocean policy from
the standpoint of energy, environmental
and tribal interests, and included an
interview with National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration Administrator
Brandon considered his "best story" a
look at "why don't spiders get stuck to
their webs," which appeared on the front
page of the Saturday Oregonian. As he
said: "I explain by analogy how a
scientist measured the adhesive force of
silk and also how the hairy bristles on
spider legs reduce this adhesive force…I
was able to explain challenging
scientific concepts in an engaging and
According to one of his letters of
recommendation from a distinguished
teaching professor in the department of
chemistry and biochemistry at Texas,
"Brandon is one of the most naturally
gifted communicators to come through my
seminar course in over 15 years… I
challenged him to consider a career in
which he could exploit his communication
Blakeley received two bachelor of
science degrees from the University of
Texas, one in computer science
and one in mathematics.
Where is he now?
Brandon is completing his Ph.D. in computer science and engineering at the
University of Washington. His work in activity recognition on smartphones seeks to make public transportation more accessible as a part of the OneBusAway project.
IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow
Smitha Raghunathan filed nine science,
engineering and technology-related
reports for the Voice of America (VOA)
worldwide audience on radio and online,
as part of her 10-week internship in
Washington. Raghunathan has a bachelor
of science degree in mechanical
engineering from MIT and is pursuing her
master's degree in biomedical
engineering from the Virginia Tech-Wake
Forest University School of Biomedical
Engineering and Sciences.
To see the reports prepared by
Raghunathan at VOA, go to:
Smitha summarized her VOA
internship: "I found my technical skills
were best used when researching a piece,
helping me understand the subject matter
and asking questions of the
discovered that my personal skills
helped me when writing the piece,
picturing in my mind how I would tell
the story to the people I worked with.
And this culminated in voicing a piece,
which is an art in itself."
In June, IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media
Fellow David Lukofsky spent his 10-week media
internships preparing news stories on
science, engineering and technology at WOSU-FM, a public radio
station in Columbus, Ohio.
David received his Ph.D. in
engineering physics from Dartmouth
College in June.
In his application to become a 2009
IEEE-USA mass media fellow, David wrote that the internship will "be the
perfect springboard to the media and
policy experience I need for my dream
job — to act as the messenger who
informs members of government on sci-tech
To see the reports prepared by David Lukofsky at WOSU-FM, go to:
Where is he now?
David is completing the Mirzayan Policy
Fellowship at the National Academies
where he works on the Board of Science
and Technology for Sustainability on the
project U.S.-China Collaboration on
Electricity from Renewables.
Specifically, that means he researches
avenues to implement low-carbon
technologies in both countries including
potential for manufacturing and
financing. "I enjoy the work because
achieving significant reductions in
carbon emissions requires action on a
global scale," David says. "This project is
interesting because it addresses both
the technological and international
components of low-carbon technologies. I
often notice how the communication
skills I developed as a mass media
fellow are helping me in my current
Nick Diakopoulos spent his
10-week media internship preparing news
stories on science, engineering and
technology at The Sacramento
In his application to become a 2009
IEEE-USA mass media fellow, he said he expected to "garner
valuable knowledge of journalism that
will help me innovate better
technologies for the journalists of the
Nick earned his Ph.D. in computer science from
Here are some of Nick's Sacramento Bee stories:
Where is he now?
In April 2014, Nick was appointed an assistant professor in the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He has combined his background in computer science with human-computer interaction to become a computational journalist. Soon after his appointment, he tweeted that the Mass Media Fellows program "was a major turning point in my career path." For more on his role at Maryland, see
Two IEEE-USA engineering mass media
fellows, Wendy Hansen and Maddalena
Jackson, reported news stories on
science, engineering and technology as
part of their 10-week assignments from
June to August at the Los Angeles
Times and The Sacramento Bee,
In 2008, Hansen received her Ph.D. in
biophysics from the University of
and Jackson is a 2008 engineering graduate of Harvey Mudd
College in Claremont, Calif.
application to join the Mass Media
Fellows program, Wendy said she was
"seriously considering a career in sci-tech
communications — writing, editing or
production." In her application, Maddalena noted: "I believe that good
communication and access to clear
information is the key to fostering a
productive and healthy society."
This was the second year IEEE-USA sponsored two mass
Where are they now?
Maddalena lives in Los Angeles and has worked as a software systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) since early 2009. She has worked on several projects at JPL, including NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter, Human Exploration, and she currently works on the InSight mission (a Mars lander). Outside of work, she spends her time hiking around the mountains of Los Angeles and acquiring new hobbies.
Wendy works at Pacific Science Center, a science museum in Seattle, where she is the project manager for a changing exhibit on current health-related research. She credits her science writing fellowship with opening the door to other science communication careers.
“Writing science articles at the Los Angeles Times during my fellowship taught me to get to the point and carefully consider my audience whenever I write,” Wendy says. “That's something I put to use every day in the museum.”
Sourish Basu, a Ph.D. candidate in
physics at Cornell University in Ithaca,
N.Y., described his 10-week reporting
assignment at *Scientific
American* in New York City as "a brief
detour on the mass media freeway."
In a November/December 2007 article that
he prepared for IEEE Potentials, Sourish explained his decision to apply
for the IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media
Fellowship: "We're surrounded by science
and technology, from when we wake up to
an electronic alarm clock, to when we
fall asleep to a CD playing softly; if
we're to use science and technology
without blundering into either an
Orwellian 1984 situation or
Terminator territory, we had better
understand their ramifications."
In his summer on the mass media freeway,
Sourish worked on several news stories
for the monthly Scientific American,
including the implications of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, cyberstrikes in Estonia, and efforts to
mitigate climate change through
biochemistry. He also experienced the
daily deadlines of newspaper reporting
by contributing to the magazine's Web
site on such topics as subwavelength
focusing, evolutionary adaptation and
climate change. Sourish elaborated:
"While some topics, like water-walking
robots and quantum ferrofluids, were
right up my alley as a physicist; for
others, like Samoan butterflies and
weather patterns, I had to build my
background knowledge by talking to the
The Cornell Ph.D. candidate summed up
his experiences: "The fellowship showed
me the social side of science — and the
questions it raises. How do we make
sense of the surfeit of studies in
health and medicine that surface every
day? How do we reconcile opposing points
of view, often on touchy issues...How do
we shape science policy...How do we
balance free-market profiteering with
free and fair use...These are questions
that our generation will have to face —
and answer — over the next several
decades. And scientists, through
effective communication of the science
involved, need to do their part."
Where is he now?
Sourish graduated with his Ph.D. in
physics and is currently working for the
Netherlands Space Research Institute (SRON).
His research involves working out the
surface fluxes of carbon dioxide from
satellite observations, which come from
a satellite launched in January. Sourish
says his career path came as a result of
his mass media fellowship. "I wrote an
article in Scientific American
about oceanic iron fertilization and
during the process I talked to a lot of
scientists involved and learned about
climate modeling. I really enjoyed the
subject, so last year I decided to
switch fields of study. The article I
wrote helped me immensely — it helped me
prove to the people in this field
(including my present employers) that I
had the potential to tackle the
For the first time, in 2006, IEEE-USA
sponsored two Mass Media Fellows, both IEEE
Student Members: Charles Emrich, with his
doctorate in biophysics from the University of
California, Berkeley; and Miriah Meyer, Ph.D.
Candidate, Computer Science, University of Utah,
Salt Lake City. Emrich and Meyer completed their
10-week summer assignments, respectively, at The Sacramento Bee and The Chicago
According to Charles, "Over the course of the
Fellowship, I grew to see myself as a crucial
cog in the machinery that gets science and
engineering news to the public. Newspaper
science/engineering has to be pretty simplified,
but I relished the hard stories such as the one
I wrote about spectroscopy of water, or another
about how glowing chickens might be the future
of cancer treatment….Almost as important, the
Assistant Managing Editor threw me a funny story
about the physics of Superman, which led to
another about geysers of Diet coke, and
culminated with a story pegged to the movie,
Snakes on a Plane. They were all 'jokey'
stories that brought a levity that I feel is
sorely lacking from science/engineering, and
allowed me to get my 'voice' into the paper."
According to Miriah, "Each story I worked on
brought the surprise that people — smart,
interesting, respected people — wanted to talk
to me and tell me all about their work. I had
the opportunity to interview the U.S. Surgeon
General, Greg Louganis, and the 'Hottest Hacker
on Earth.' I was invited to tour numerous
research labs, and got the inside scoop on
suspicions of drug research being used illegally
by competitive cyclists. The simple phrase, 'I'm
a reporter with The Chicago Tribune,
was the best tool a science and engineering
'pickpocket' could ever have…I also learned what
truly makes for an interesting story in the
scope of the general public, knowledge that I
find to be humbling for the scientist within
me….I think this perspective will help me to be
a more effective advocate of science, whether it
is as a researcher or writer."
Where is he now?
Charles finished his Ph.D. at Berkeley in December
2006 and spent a few months backpacking through
Southeast Asia, chronicling his travels on a
blog and dreaming of becoming a travel writer.
Since then, he's worked as an intern in the
Science & Innovation Group at the British
Consulate in San Francisco, where he has been
involved in public policy. He's also been
working as a part-time programmer for a
bioprocess automation firm in San Francisco,
which gives him ample opportunity for technical
writing—mostly documentation and manuals. Later, Charles and a few of his Berkeley
friends started up a company to make better
enzymes for sustainable, cellulosic biofuels
"It's a really fun challenge to get a business
funded and working, and even more so to know
that if we succeed, the world will be a greener
place for it," Charles says. "I still find time
to do freelance writing, because writing always
was and always will be one of my great passions.
My hope is that after some time spent trying to
save the world, I'll find myself again riding a
slow boat up the Mekong, writing about the
people and the technology that keep that same
Abby (Vogel) Robinson
In 2005, IEEE student member Abby (Vogel) Robinson completed a 10-week summer assignment at
the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Abby, IEEE-USA's sixth mass media
fellow, was a graduate student at the
University of Maryland and eventually earned her doctorate in bioengineering. Read a sampling
of her contributions:
In W.Va, the spin on wind farms is
Making shuttles safer
Shell tells a tale of survival
Where is she now?
Abby worked as a communications officer at the Georgia Institute of Technology's Research News office (gtresearchnews.gatech.edu) from 2007-12 and was a freelance science writer until 2014, when she became director of communications for the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland. Following her fellowship, Abby became active in IEEE-USA and served as a member and chair of the IEEE-USA Communications Committee and as editor for IEEE-USA Today's Engineer (todaysengineer.org) and IEEE-USA in ACTION (http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/ieeeusainaction/default.asp).
"The mass media fellowship changed my
career path from biomedical engineer to
science writer and I couldn't be
happier," Abby says. "Every day I get to
learn about a new discovery and
communicate the exciting research to the
general public through my writing."
IEEE student member Sarah Harris concluded a 10-week assignment
in the summer of 2004 as
IEEE-USA's fifth Mass Media Fellow. Sarah,
who was pursuing her Ph.D. in electrical
engineering at Stanford University, worked
at WOSU-AM in Columbus, Ohio, assisting with
radio reporting on science, technology,
engineering and math.
Listen to some of Harris' recorded segments
Where is she now?
Sarah became an associate professor in the Depatment of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UNLV in the fall of 2015. Prior to that, she was an assistant professor in
engineering at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. In 2007, she and co-author David Harris (no relation) published a textbook, Digital Design and Computer
"I've used and built on the skills I
learned from my mentors at WOSU, such as
Tom Borgerding," Sarah says. "The
fellowship experience helped prepare the
way for me as a professor to make
science and engineering not only more
accessible, but also fun and engaging."
2003 IEEE Member Joy Ku was
IEEE-USA's fourth Mass Media Fellow. In 2003, she worked on science,
engineering and technology (SET) related
stories at WNBC-TV in New York City. Ku was
a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering at Stanford
University, where she researched image processing and
visualization of medical images, as well as 3-D ultrasound. Ku
received her BSEE from U.C. Berkeley before receiving her MSEE from
Where is she now?
Joy is currently the Director of
Dissemination for Simbios, an NIH center
for biomedical computing at Stanford
Her job is a mix of public relations,
journalism and curriculum
development/technical writing. She is an
associate editor for Simbios' quarterly
magazine, Biomedical Computation Review,
where she draws on the newswriting and
editing skills that she learned during
her mass media fellowship.
"My mass media fellows experience has
given me an edge when applying for my
last couple of jobs, as it highlighted
my ability both to write and to gather
and synthesize information," Joy says.
In 2002, IEEE-USA's third mass media
fellow, IEEE member Robert Barnett,
spent 10 weeks in New York City at
Science, the world's largest science and technology
magazine, while working on his MSEE at
Clemson University. Barnett, who also received his BS in electrical
engineering from Clemson, formerly served as managing editor of the
university's newspaper, The Tiger. His blend of engineering and editorial
experience made him particularly well suited for the job.
is he now?
Rob is a senior energy economist at Bloomberg Government in Washington, D.C., specializing in energy sector economics, environmental policy and strategy, and EPA regulations. Prior to that, he worked at IHS Cambridge (Mass.) Energy Research Associates as associate director of climate change and clean energy. He advised companies on strategies for complying with existing and future environmental policies and was particularly focused on carbon markets and clean energy technologies. He also led the environmental and energy analysis for various studies, including Growth in the Canadian Oil Sands: Finding the New Balance, and Crossing the Divide: The Future of Clean Energy.
“The mass media fellowship was an exciting opportunity and the communications experience benefited me greatly,” says Rob, who earned a master’s degree in economics from Boston University. “In my current job, I do a significant amount of writing and public speaking — both skills that the IEEE-USA-sponsored mass media fellowship helped to foster.”
2001 In 2001,
Orange, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering at Howard
University, in Washington, D.C., was IEEE-USA's second Mass Media
Fellow. Orange completed a 10-week assignment with
American in New York City, where she worked as a news intern
"trolling" for stories, checking facts, researching and
compiling datapoints, and writing occasional
IEEE-USA's first Mass Media Fellow,
Ruskin, was a Junior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring
in computer science engineering when he completed his 10-week
assignment at the
Louis Post-Dispatch. As a cub reporter, Ruskin wrote news
briefs and feature stories covering a broad range of science and
technology issues. After receiving his BSEE from Penn, Ruskin
earned a Master of Entertainment from Carnegie Mellon University's
Entertainment Technology Center.
Where is he now?
After completing his Mass Media
fellowship, Elan went to graduate school
and then on to a career in the video
game industry. He's worked on a variety
of titles including the "Jak & Daxter"
series with Naughty Dog, Inc.; and he is
presently a designer and programmer at
Valve Corporation, developers of the
popular "Half-Life," "Counterstrike" and
"Team Fortress" series.
"The Mass Media fellowship opened my
eyes to opportunities in engineering
outside the laboratory. To this day, my
experiences as a journalist help me
communicate with the artists and
producers on our projects, and with the
press," says Elan.
information on becoming an IEEE-USA Mass Media Fellow, contact
at 202-326-6441 or IEEE-USA
Public Relations Manger Chris McManes at 202-530-8356.
14 August 2014
Staff Contact: Chris McManes firstname.lastname@example.org