Spring 2014 Science Writing Workshop Banner

Interested in science writing?

A free, one-day writing workshop was held on Monday, April 21, in parallel with the 2014 MRS Spring Meeting in San Francisco. The workshop was limited to 15 participants. Applications were accepted until March 31, 2014.

Workshop Outline

9 a.m. – noon


How to Tell a Story

  • Introduction to Writing Opportunities
  • Key Elements of Story Telling
  • Critique of Writing Samples

Noon-1:30 p.m.


Lunch will be provided.

1:30-4:30 p.m.


How to Conduct an Interview

  • The Art of Interviewing
  • Group Interview Activity
  • Interview Critique
  • Practice

The workshop included a great opportunity to practice your interviewing skills with a leading materials scientist. Michael H. Bartl of the University of Utah was our guest scientist and interviewee.

Michael-H.-BartlMichael H. Bartl, University of Utah
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
Director, Integrative Research Group on Plasmonic Metamaterials (Utah MRSEC)

Michael H. Bartl is an associate professor of materials and physical chemistry, and a visiting professor at the Technical University Munich in Germany. He earned his doctorate degree in materials/inorganic chemistry from Karl-Franzens University Graz, Austria, and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Bartl is the scientific co-founder of Navillum Nanotechnologies, and currently, he is the director of the Integrative Research Group on Plasmonic Metamaterials of the Utah Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. He was the recipient of a “DuPont Young Professorship,” and was named a “Brilliant 10” researcher by Popular Science magazine in 2010 and a Scialog Fellow by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement in 2013. His research group studies functional nanostructured materials for energy and information technology applications, including bioinspired photonics, magnonics, nanocrystals and thin films.


Birgit-SchwenzerBirgit Schwenzer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Fundamental & Computational Sciences Directorate

Birgit Schwenzer is a scientist in the Fundamental & Computational Sciences Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. She received a M.Sc. in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and got a doctorate degree from the University of Konstanz in Germany in organometallic chemistry. During a postdoc at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she switched to experimental materials science, and her main research interest now is to investigate structure-property relationships of inorganic nano- and microstructures. Her volunteer work with the MRS started when she became an MRS Bulletin Volume Organizer for 2013. Since then she has also done some science writing for the MRS Bulletin, and she was a participant of the first Science Writing Workshop at the 2013 Fall MRS Meeting.


Aditi Risbud of the University of Utah provideed a brief overview of science writing opportunities and discussed how to navigate an “alternative” career as a science writer.

Aditi RisbudAditi Risbud, University of Utah
Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Director, CLEAR Program

Aditi Risbud is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the CLEAR Program at the University of Utah. She is a communications and engineering professional with research, teaching and public relations expertise in nanotechnology, materials engineering and technical communication. She focuses on communicating the implications of technological breakthroughs to a broad audience, including students, the media, policy makers and the general public. She received a B.S. in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Davis, and a Ph.D. in materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also holds a certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Alison-Hatt Alison Hatt, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
User Program Director, Molecular Foundry

Alison Hatt is the director of the User Program at the Molecular Foundry and a former Foundry postdoc. She oversees the Foundry’s scientific proposal process, including working with scientific staff to reach out to and grow new diverse, engaged, and productive User communities. Alison also has a background in science writing and communication, and previously served as public affairs specialist for the materials sciences division, where she facilitated communication between MSD scientists, DOE and the general public. For the past several years, Alison has written news and features for MRS Bulletin and Meeting Scene. She received her BSc in physics from the University of Utah (2005) and her Ph.D. in materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara (2010). 

Judy Meiksin, Science Writing Workshop InstructorJudy Meiksin, Materials Research Society
Managing Editor, MRS Bulletin   

Judy Meiksin is managing editor of MRS Bulletin, the flagship publication of the Materials Research Society, where she is responsible for generating content for news and features and for coordinating articles for the section Energy Quarterly within the magazine. She has taught writing for over 20 years, including courses at the University of Pittsburgh as well as invited workshops, most recently at the College of William and Mary and Center for Study of Science, Technology & Policy (Bangalore). She has her B.A. (1983) from Carnegie Mellon University and her MFA (1989) from the University of Pittsburgh, both in writing.


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