Science Writing Workshop | December 1, 2013 | Boston, Massachusetts

Interested in science writing?

Learn the techniques required to take any story—a news story, journalistic article, blog entry or profile of a scientist—to the next level.

A free, one-day writing workshop was held on Sunday, December 1, in parallel with the 2013 MRS Fall Meeting in Boston. The workshop was limited to 15 participants who were required to apply in advance.

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.



1:30-4:30 p.m.


How to Conduct an Interview

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

 Note: Participants received a writing assignment and reading material prior to the workshop.  

The workshop included a great opportunity to practice your interviewing skills with a leading materials scientist. Markus J.Buehler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was our guest scientist and interviewee.

Markus BuehlerMarkus Buehler is professor and head of the department of civil and environmental engineering at MIT, director of the Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics, and director of the MIT-Germany Program. In 2012, he received the MRS Outstanding Young Investigator Award for “highly innovative and creative work in computational modeling of biological, bio-inspired and synthetic materials, revealing how weakness is turned into strength through hierarchical material design.” He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and has given hundreds of invited, keynote and plenary talks. His many honors include the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). He received his Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D. equivalent) from Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, Germany.


Julie Nucci, Science Writing Workshop FacilitatorJulie Nucci, Cornell University
Adjunct Professor, Materials Science and Engineering

Julie Nucci is adjunct professor of materials science and engineering at Cornell University. She is currently a member of the Editorial Board for MRS Bulletin. Prior MRS Bulletin involvement includes serving as Volume Organizer and on a committee that established the “Beyond the Lab” feature. She has also served on the Public Outreach and NISEnet committees of the Materials Research Society. She has held positions as an engineer for Digital Equipment Corporation and National Semiconductor, a lecturer at Cornell and Stuttgart Universities, director of education programs for the Center for Nanoscale Systems at Cornell University, and as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany. She received her B.S. in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an M.S. in applied physics from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Cornell University.


Aditi Risbud of the University of Utah provided 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.


Emily Lewis, Science Writing Workshop InstructorEmily Lewis, Tufts University
Ph.D. Candidate, Chemistry

Emily Lewis is a fourth year graduate student in the chemistry department at Tufts University. Her research focuses on using scanning tunneling microscopy to understand the atomic-scale interactions of industrially important reactants on cobalt nanoparticle surfaces. She writes news articles for MRS’s Materials360 Online where she interviews researchers to obtain a deeper understanding of their research. Emily also works as a graduate writing consultant in the academic resource center at Tufts and has run workshops on writing in the sciences. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from Northeastern University in 2009.

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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