Students: Learning to Write About Science

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As a media studies major with an interest in writing and communications, I jumped at the chance to intern with the Office of Tech Transfer in the marketing department throughout my senior year.

From prior work experiences at magazines and web publications, I had quickly become familiar with the ins and outs of interviewing subjects, creating compelling social media content, and telling a good story. During my first few weeks at the Office of Technology transfer, I quickly realized that there was one critical function I was less familiar with: understanding and talking fluently about science.

My last, and only, academic exposure to the field of science was an astronomy class my freshman year, but suddenly I was thrust into the world of nanotechnology, medication adherence scales, liver disease, and more, introduced to me via PhD graduates and professors who are at the top of their respective fields.

Though I was intimidated at first, I soon realized that I had been given a really unique opportunity to learn more about the unmatched scientific innovation that occurs behind the scenes at Emory from the eyes of an outsider. Perhaps most importantly, I realized that I had a unique responsibility to share these ideas, inventions, and innovations in a way that someone like myself–with little to no background in science–could understand and engage with.

I took that responsibility seriously, and I enjoyed writing pieces on topics as varied as in-depth profiles of featured innovations at Emory to tongue-in-cheek social media posts about fun and unique patents to use at Christmas time.

While I never quite fully understood some of the more abstract scientific topics that I explored during my time at OTT, I left with a much stronger knowledge of scientific advancement and the licensing process as a whole. I have no doubt that my newfound background in science and tech writing will prove invaluable as I pursue a career that allows me to communicate widely with audiences across a range of subjects. (Though I think I’ll steer clear of nanotech–that never really clicked!) In all seriousness, my internship with OTT was one of my favorite experiences at Emory both because of the things it taught me, and for all of the things it didn’t.

— Presley West