MMF Webinar Q&A
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Q: Is it an advantage to have an idea of which site we would prefer to work at?
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A: It will help during the interview process but I would advise against putting this in your applicaiton as it will limit your chances.
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Q: When you say finalist, are these people the one's who will actually be fellows or is there an intermediate stage of being a finalist and not all finalists will be fellows?
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A: For our purposes a finalist is the group that is narrowed down and sent to the media sites. Last year there were about 60 finalists and 20 fellows placed.
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Q: Hi, is the application a rolling process or are all the applicants cosidered after the application deadline?
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A: The review process starts after the deadline. No applicaitons are reviewed until the deadline.
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Q: Is there a prefference for carrer stage? i.e. post-doc > grad student?
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A: There is no preference. They are treated as equal.
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Q: Are students eligible for the program the summer following their sophomore year?
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A: Yes.
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Q: Is health insurance included?
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A: No.
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Q: Do we need proof for work permit at the time of application?
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A: No. You will need it before you begin the fellowship
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Q: 1 year requirement: is this 1 year from the time of application or the time the fellowship would begin?
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A: 1 year from the time you apply.
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Q: If you apply to both, the references can be the same?
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A: Yes the references can be the same but they will have to fill out the document twice becasue it's in a different file
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Q: When we apply, will we be suggesting potential sites that fit with us given our backgrounds? Or will the sites choose from the pool of accepted candidates?
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A: Wait to talk about your site preferences during the finalist interview.
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Q: I have kids so the logistics seem daunting. Are there fellows with kids who have successfully navigated this? Any support (moral, logistical, financial) for fellows with kids?
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A: Please contact me for the answer to this question
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Q: For PhD students, was it a challenge to pause your research to complete the AAAS Fellowship? Any pushback from advisors?
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A: It's a range. Most advisors give some pushback or just get a bit grumpy or dismisive. Very few advisors cheer you on completely. But most at least understand that you need to look after your own career path and will give their blessing.
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Q: Did you partake in the program before all of those experiences?
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A: The speakers today were all from summer of 2017 so the scicomm expereince they described during the webinar were all prior to the fellowship, although some of them applied multiple years
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Q: If my background is primarily writing for primary literature publication, would I be a strong candidate, or is it necessary to have some of the writing experiences that Kyle is describing?
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A: It helps but there are certainly fellows each year that DO NOT have any experience.
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Q: Question for fellows: What do you think stood out in your application that lead to your acceptance?
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A: The fellows arn't given any feedback about their applications so they can't actually answer this question. BUT I can tell you that it was their writing samples primarily. Additionally (at least for the fellows that talked today) they all had public engagment expereince.
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Q: Do you need to have previous writing experience (whether it be running a blog or writing articles) to be a competitive applicant for this fellowship?
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A: You dont NEED to but it helps. There are fellow that are selected that do not have experience but it helps.
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Q: Is there a database of all the writings published via the mass media fellowship?
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A: Yes!! https://www.aaas.org/page/2017-mass-media-fellows The name of each fellow is a link to thier bio and all of their clips.
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Q: Did any of you meet participants who didn't have any experience in writing at all? How friendly will the program be in this case?
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A: There were at least a couple with NO expreience. They were totaly successful and had a great time. It was really intense but it's really intense for everyone.
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Q: I notice all three alumni are either senior level graduate students or postdcos and beyond, are undergrads or postbaccs considered to a lesser extent? Or are postdocs preferred simply because they tend to have more experience?
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A: All of these levels are considered equally. BUT this means that a 21 year old undergrad who hasnt had many years to participate in research, outreach and scicomm will be compared equally to a 34 year old postdoc who has had more years to do these things and work on their writing. Because of this the fellowship tends to be older. BUT that doesnt mean you shouldnt apply because those things dont make or break your application and we do have undergrads who make the cut and we also have grad students who dont have any of that expreience make the cut. Just apply!
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Q: What was your process for creating a story (i.e. confirming sources, gathering background information, figuring out your angle)?
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A: Answer coiming soon
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Q: Are there locations that are focused less on written media, and more on oral or visual?
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A: All of the placements for next year have are at least 50% writing. There are sites that have up to 50% video etc production like KQED.
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Q: Post fellowship, how necessary is it to live in an area with science journalism focus?
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A: It depends on what you want to do. There are many many opportunites to freelance and endless different types of jobs. Unless you want to work in a newsroom then there are a ton of different things you can do remotly
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Q: Can a person be successful doing remote freelance work?
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A: YES!
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Q: Can these be samples from our previous works? Or are they expected to be "fresh" material?
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A: Samples that you already have are the BEST! Especialy if they're published because they've gone through an editor of some kind.
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Q: So we should submit a CV and not a resume?
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A: Yes a CV is more appropriate here.
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Q: please send me the email address form the alumni that spoke today.
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Jenna Gallegos
@FoodBeerScience
jenna.e.gallegos@gmail.com
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Shaena Montanari
@DrShaena
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Kyle Frischkorn
@kylefrischkorn
kyle.frischkorn@gmail.com
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Q: For the 750 word 'news story' would it hurt me in any way if I write about a paper that my group published? Or is it suggested that I write about work that is not connected to me personally?
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A: If you already have a piece that you really like then it's fine to go with it. There's not a penalty for writing about your own work. Or if you feel like you could write a really good piece about your work then it's fine. It's not recommended as people usually cannot write a good piece about their own work. They *think* its good and makes sense but usually when a non-scientist reads it, it's boring and too complicated. But you should go with whatever you think will be the best.
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Q: If it is fine to write about a paper from my own group, what are your policies on me publishing the same on the blog of my funding center, under my own name?
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A: It's great for you to get more uses out of you writing sample. We encourage people to choose a piece that is already published or to publish it later.
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Q: Although the NSF defines social scientists as scientists, I noticed that none of the 2017 fellows came from any social science disciplines.
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A: When the fellowship was created in 1974 it was actually for social scientists and then it expanded the next year. So YES social scientists are absolutely welcome! We don't get that many applications from social scientists but they are eligible. I would strongly suggest that you write about a natural of life science story to show the reviewers your abilities and not stick just to social science.
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Q: Are there ever fellows with small childeren, or pregnant?
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A: Yes!! Contact me about this one for more info (it's a long answer).
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