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Creative Science Writing Program

Creative Science Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh

Overview. The development of effective writing skills in the sciences has become increasingly more important given the critical roles that science plays in society. To help undergraduates at the University of Pittsburgh develop such highly valuable skills, the Creative Science Writing Summer Program is intended to foster undergraduate writing projects that are focused on communicating science in a compelling, accessible manner to non-scientists. This Program is available to undergraduates in the Departments of Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, Neuroscience, History & Philosophy of Science, and/or English. Each of six selected participants will be awarded a prize of $250 to pursue creative writing involving scientific journalism, poetry, and other works of nonfiction during the summer.

Summer Program of 2018. During the 11-week period from May 16 to July 27, 2018, each participant will complete the following:

  • Develop a writing portfolio with at least one piece that is sufficiently revised for submission to a news outlet with a broad readership (e.g., campus literary magazines and newspapers, local Pittsburgh newspapers, online magazines as well as brochures for science museums);
  • To receive guidance on communicating the science in an accurate manner, spend ³80 hours with either (i) a scientific research lab, including individual meetings with the PI, or (ii) with a faculty mentor in the History and Philosophy of Science Department;
  • Meet weekly with a faculty mentor in the English Department to receive guidance on the writing efforts;
  • Attend weekly writing workshops and have at least one writing piece critiqued at two of these workshops;
  • Attend the Creative Nonfiction Writer’s Conference at Point Park University during the first week of the program (late May);
  • Publish at least one piece in Lab Musings the program’s online magazine on Medium.

How to Apply for the Summer of 2018. To be eligible for the Program, undergraduates must be in good academic standing and declared a major in the Departments of Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, Neuroscience, History & Philosophy of Science, and/or English. To apply, please email a brief summary (≤ 250 words) to Prof. Lillian Chong (ltchong@pitt.edu) by March 2, 2018 that includes the following:

  • A description of the proposed writing project, outlining the research/science topics of interest, forms of writing, and motivation/significance of your writing project. 
  • The names of (i) a faculty member of the Department of Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, Neuroscience, or History & Philosophy of Science Department who has agreed to mentor you during the summer on communicating the science in an accurate manner; and (ii) a faculty member in the English Department who has agreed to mentor you during the summer on the writing.
  • Mention any previous experiences with creative writing, including writing workshops.

A faculty committee will review the proposals and select six awardees for the Summer of 2018.