Cancer biology and neuroscience students are first Graduate Travel Fellows to AAAS

Learn more about the 2020 NASW Undergraduate and Graduate Travel Fellows to AAAS here.

By Czerne Reid and Ashley Yeager

SEATTLE — Selected from a pool of almost 30 well-qualified applicants, Claudia Lopez-Lloreda, a neuroscience Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania, and Calley Jones, a cancer biology Ph.D. student at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, make up the inaugural class of NASW Graduate Travel Fellows to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held Feb. 13-16.

A photo of Claudia Lopez-Lloreda and Calley Jones.

Claudia Lopez-Lloreda (left) and Calley Jones.

The fellows were paired with mentors, and assigned to write news stories for publication on the NASW website and interview symposium speakers live before an audience during the AAAS program The Debrief. Erin Ross, writer and reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting helped the students prepare and practice before showtime.

Watch Jones’ and Lopez-Lloreda’s interviews now on the AAAS YouTube channel. Look out for their coverage here.

In their own words, here’s a taste of the graduate fellows’ experience:

Claudia Lopez-Lloreda, University of Pennsylvania “As a science graduate student, I have had few ways to explore science writing and science journalism. This past weekend, NASW gave me the opportunity to go to the annual meeting of AAAS and see science journalists in action, an event that has encouraged me to continue on my path in this career. One of the best aspects of the travel award was to have a mentor that comes from a similar science background and learn about her career trajectory and the details of her day-to-day as a freelance writer. Although I am still unsure if this is the path I want to follow, talking with somebody about their career will help me decide the steps I should take to achieve my goals.

As part of the travel fellowship, I covered an interesting session on how music affects the brain and learned about science writing internships during the internship fair. I also did my first live interview (!) and had a great conversation about mis and disinformation in science. As nerve-racking as it was, learning how to interview and doing a live interview was an incredibly valuable experience. I also went to sessions about science journalism that gave me tools to use in the future.

But by far the best part of the whole experience was meeting the science writing community. I was surprised by how welcoming everybody in the community was and how willing they were to help and give advice to early-career science writers. Overall, the fellowship provided me an opportunity to learn about the world of science journalism and gave me a network of mentors and future colleagues that will help me in my career as a science writer.”

Calley Jones, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences “The travel fellowship has been a fantastic experience, and I feel honored to have been a part of it. I was initially a bit nervous, having never attended a scientific conference as a reporter, but the science writing community made me feel right at home. Everyone was so open about their experiences and willing to share advice and feedback — I loved that. It really solidified my desire to pursue science writing as a career.

I feel like the fellowship enhanced my prospects for getting a job in a few different ways. I was able to gain firsthand experience reporting on a conference, writing under a tight deadline, and working with a fantastic editor, all in one assignment. Additionally, I now have a broadcast clip of a live, recorded interview, which was a surprisingly fun exercise that I never would have tried otherwise! Finally, I learned so much at the internship fair about potential next steps in my career. I really enjoyed networking with the other travel fellows, past and present, to start forming a support system that can be there for each other throughout our future careers.

I'm extremely grateful to the NASW Education Committee for opening this fellowship to graduate students, and for selecting me as part of the inaugural class. I had a blast, I learned a lot, and I met some great people!”

Feb. 19, 2020