Announcing the new NASW Student Newsroom and winners of the 2020 Summer Writing Awards

This summer, NASW offered the inaugural David Perlman Virtual Mentoring Program for graduate and undergraduate students.

Created by the Education Committee to offer learning opportunities at a time when internships were in question due to the pandemic, 98 students were matched with 98 NASW volunteer mentors from a variety of science writing backgrounds. 

The program is named for longtime science writer and past NASW president David Perlman. Dave died on June 19, 2020 at the age of 101, only three years after his retirement from the San Francisco Chronicle. He was a mentor to countless members of the science writing community and always made time for kind and supportive words, especially for early career writers. 

The program included career development sessions: A science journalism 101 bootcamp led by Rob Irion, former UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program director; a fact-checking forum with Open Notebook editor-in-chief, Siri Carpenter, and Smithsonian assistant web editor Rachael Lallensack; and an educational pitch session in which students presented their pitches live, and received feedback from Corinna Wu, Senior Editor, Chemical & Engineering News; Sarah Lewin Frasier, Assistant News Editor, Scientific American; Ashley Smart, Associate Editor, Undark Magazine; David Malakoff, Deputy News Editor, Science; and Megan Thielking, News Editor, STAT News.

Students worked with their mentors to pitch, report and write a science news article. Many of these pieces are collected in the Student Newsroom, a brand new section of NASW’s website devoted to showcasing the writing of our student members. Mentors are featured alongside their students.

In addition to the publication opportunity provided by the Student Newsroom, the Education Committee worked with students and mentors to pitch stories to 11 outlets who graciously agreed to consider student submissions for publication. Some students also successfully pitched their stories independently to various outlets. 

We are pleased that, so far, several students were successful in having their pieces selected for publication or published by science writing outlets, including Scientific American (Emily Zhang), Science News for Students (Rasha Aridi), Eos (Jady Carmichael and Matthew Stonecash), Inside Science (Veronica Tremblay), Nautilus (Ananya Sen) and the Indianapolis Star (Lorena Villanueva-Almanza). In some cases, these publications represent a student’s first contribution to what we anticipate will be a robust and growing portfolio.

All of the students’ stories were considered for NASW’s Summer Writing Award, which comes with a $500 prize. Stories were judged, in two rounds, by a panel of editors and writers, for clarity, style, story structure, diversity of sources, and effective use of quotes and data.

Congratulations to this year’s Summer Writing Award winners:

Thank you to the volunteers who served on the judging committees: Merrik Bush (Berkeley),Shelby Condit (City of Boulder), Laura Dattaro (Spectrum News), Meredith Fore (University of Washington), Marin Hedin (Johns Hopkins Medicine), Rebecca Hirsch (Freelance), Stacy Kish (Carnegie Mellon University), Betsy Ladyzhets (Stacker), Amanda Martinek (University of Wisconsin), Beth Miller (Washington University in St. Louis), Lisa Munoz (SciComm Services Inc.), Michael Newman (Johns Hopkins Medicine), Elliot Richman (Freelance), Emily Sandoval (City of Boulder), Kate Schimel (Colorado Public Radio), Vandana Suresh (Texas A&M), Chanapa Tantibanchachai (U.S. Food & Drug Administration), Nikki Teran (Stanford University), Ayanna Tucker (Johns Hopkins Medicine), Tony Van Witsen, (Michigan State University), Shawna Williams (The Scientist).

Congratulations to all of our student participants and thank you to our NASW members who took the time to serve as mentors. We are grateful to you for sharing your enthusiasm and knowledge to support up-and-coming science writers.  And finally, thank you to the volunteers of the Education committee:

Co-chairs: Czerne Reid and Ashley Yeager

Members: Courtney Adams, Rachel Butch, Shelby Condit, Jenny Cutraro, Amber Dance, Jeff Grabmeier, Laurel Hamers, Robert Irion, Rachael Lallensack, Kimberly "Berly" McCoy, Erik Vance, Sarah Webb
The virtual mentoring program went from idea to reality in a matter of weeks thanks to your desire to ensure that the next generation of science writers would not lose out on summer experiences and your efforts have shown the ongoing value of virtual mentoring absent a pandemic. Thank you!


Sep. 17, 2020

NYU School of Professional Studies