Thursday, June 6, 2019

Science Journalism Interns take to the Airwaves and Newsrooms Across Wyoming

Warm temperatures and long days are a welcome sign of summer in Wyoming. Classrooms and textbooks give way to open ranges, Carhartts, and field notes. Starting this summer, students from the Communication and Journalism department at the University of Wyoming are scattering to newsrooms across the state as part of an internship program in science journalism through Wyoming EPScoR’s Track 1 Micro project. Interns will develop hands-on experience, receive mentoring by seasoned reporters, and build a body of work in science journalism. Mining and tourism buoy Wyoming’s economy. We are a state blessed by a wealth of natural resources, large swaths of federal land, and the nation’s first national park. Wyoming is perfectly positioned to lead science communication initiatives. Associate Professor Kristen Landreville directs the summer science journalism internship program. Below are brief descriptions of the 2019 interns and their associated newsrooms.

  • Nolan Behnke works in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle newsroom. Nolan wants to learn more about the different facets of Wyoming journalism and how to produce a strong story. He was an intern with Wyoming Public Radio in spring 2019 and wants to diversify his media background. His goal is to learn how science is researched and reported in the state. 
  • Kiley Carrol is interning at her hometown paper, the Sheridan Press. Kiley grew up on a ranch and is keen on expanding the Sheridan Press’s coverage of agriculture and science issues.
  • Ivy Engel interns with Wyoming Public Media. She is studying biology with minors in chemistry, journalism, and business. Hoping to go into science communication upon graduation, she is excited to get a taste of the world of broadcast journalism and to share her love of science.
  • Tristan Kutzer is working in the Casper Star-Tribune newsroom. During the school year, he writes for the University of Wyoming student newspaper, the Branding Iron. He is excited about the strong mentorship experience that the Casper Star-Tribune can provide him as he develops an interest in news writing, photojournalism, and videography. 
  • Mary Rucinski is an intern at the Laramie Boomerang. Mary is an aspiring journalist who, in addition to covering science topics with this internship, is eager to cover local government and public affairs.
  • Sarah Teter is a graduate student interning with the UW Haub School developing research briefs for public consumption and developing stories for Western Confluence, a publication of the Ruckelshaus Institute. Sara comes to this internship with several years of journalism experience, including her work at Laramie Live.
  • Jeff Victor is a graduate student interning as a science reporter with Wyoming Public Radio. In a former life as a Laramie Boomerang reporter, he was awarded six Pacemakers for his coverage of the university and Laramie culture.

These interns represent Wyoming EPSCoR’s Micro project and bring that voice to communities across the state. This project and partnership with the Wyoming Press Association will build bridges into new communities in unique and positive ways. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Powell Tribune’s Mark Davis Receives Wyoming EPSCoR Awards Inaugural Best of Science Journalism Award

Dr.Landreville presents best of Science Journalism Award to Davis
Consistent excellence in a body of work on scientific issues, clarity writing quality, accuracy, knowledge of subject matter in stories were the judging criteria for the first Wyoming EPSCoR's best of Science Journalism Award. Presented to Powell Tribune's Mark Davis at the Wyoming Press Association's winter convention.  The award is an effort to recognize excellence in a field that is relevant across a state whose economy is fueled by extraction industry and tourism. These two industries rely on science and science communicators. 

Davis submitted stories on the successful nesting curlews, a mammoth known as ‘Uncle George’ found near Cody, farming sage grouse, and local megafauna such as wild horses, and moose. . Davis' work was selected from fifty submissions representing reporters across the state. His content knowledge and stories were diverse and painted each of the subjects in an approachable and curious manner. "The judging panel was impressed by the wide range of science stories. We got to read stories about everything from Wyoming wildlife to Wyoming's energy industry to health care and brain science. We are excited that so many Wyoming journalists submitted for the award," explains Dr. Kristen Landreville. Landreville, a professor at the University of Wyoming in the department of Communication and Journalism, initiated this award to celebrate the science communication across Wyoming's geography.

Mark began his career at a Chicago Tribune suburban newspaper after studying journalism at the University of Nebraska. He worked for the Omaha World-Herald as a photojournalist and outdoor reporter. He enjoys hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and all outdoor sports.

The best of science journalism award establishes connections between Wyoming EPSCoR and the local news media across the state and the Wyoming Press association. Landreville explained, "There's great science journalism already happening in Wyoming, and we want to recognize it." It provides awardees with a cash prize and registration to the Wyoming Press Association's winter convention. The award is part of Wyoming EPSCoR's Track 1 grant, Mapping the Microbial Landscape of Wyoming.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

New Partnership with Gallaudet University Brings Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students to Laramie

Along with warm temperatures and long days, summer 2018 brought a new program to Wyoming EPSCoR; an eight-week internship in the Stable Isotope Facility, SIF, for deaf and hard of hearing students. In partnership with Gallaudet University professor Dr. Caroline Solomon’s biology lab, undergraduates Arianne Levenson and Patrick Pocztarsk from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology learned about environmental science and water quality in the high plains and rolling hills of Wyoming.  Wyoming EPSCoR has highlighted scientists with disabilities since 2012, first bringing scientists to campus to discuss their work and now with a more significant commitment to expanding the definition of a scientist at the University and beyond. The motivation for the new internship program is to grow the deaf and hard of hearing student community at the University of Wyoming and for students working on the Micro project to collaborate with scientists of different abilities and backgrounds. Chandelle Macdonald of the Stable Isotope Facility likened her experience this summer with the interns to work with students from a different culture. She was surprised to “learn how deaf culture works, not just the language but the entire culture.” 
Faculty, staff, and students from the EPSCoR, the Microbial Ecology Collective, and the SIF participated in an introduction to American Sign Language or ASL workshop at the University before Arianne and Patrick’s arrival. This was a chance to learn about deaf culture and pick up a few signs. Participants practiced finger spelling their names and different welcome signs. The experience was both humbling and engaging. The workshop helped the UW community begin a broader conversation on inclusivity.

Interns settled into the UW dorms, which tower over campus, and ate with other summer programs at the dining hall. Each day, they walked across campus to the Berry Center where the SIF is housed and worked with faculty Dr. David Williams, research scientists, and graduate students. Over time, they experienced Wyoming culture, riding horses and hiking in the nearby mountains. One student brought his skateboard and quickly made friends with locals skating around campus and at the park.
Throughout the duration, Arianne and Pat learned about taking samples, different techniques for analysis, and the story told by data. The culminating activity was a poster presentation, which was open to the public. Students, faculty, and staff from EPSCoR’s Micro project watched Arianne sign while listening to an interpreter. Pat spoke about his research.  The question and answer period were filled with graduate students asking Arianne and Pat about their desires for the future, what they were interested in studying, and how this experience influenced their thinking. Each expressed an interest in marine biology and noted the ties between what they learned in the internship and their desired career trajectory.  “this program had activities that could be applied - isotopes and chemicals which will require instruments like isotope ratio mass spectrometer to analyze on” said Arianne. Dr. Williams had a more enthusiastic reflection on the experience, “I was tickled by the whole thing and look forward to supporting future interns in my lab and others across the project.”  

Sparked by an NPR story in its “50 Great Teachers” series called “Biology Professor’s Calling: Teach Deaf Students They Can Do Anything” about Dr. Solomon, Wyoming EPSCoR initiated a dialogue several years ago. Dr. Solomon’s research parallels work Wyoming EPSCoR does on conservation biology and nutrient dynamics in water systems. These similar interests allow for an exciting synergy around aquatic environmental science and the hard of hearing and deaf communities. Over the next four years of EPSCoR’s Track 1 project, Micro, deaf and hard of hearing students will continue to spend their summers in Wyoming doing hands-on research. We hope some decide to return to Laramie for future study.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Students Ride the Divide in the name of Research!

Central Wyoming College students are in the throws of a grueling adventure in the name of research. The ultra distance riding and research BioPEAK team began their southern traverse along the spine of the continental divide on June 8th in Banff, Alberta. BioPEAK will research hyponatremia, a condition common in ultradistance riders and runners as they turn the pedals along mountain passes towards Antelope Wells NM. Jacki Klancher, CWC professor and cheerleader is along for the ride and shared an article she wrote in preparation. It is below along with photos from Jacki's last Ride the Divide adventure in 2017.

Preparing for the Long Haul: Across the Great Divide 
by Associate Professor of Environmental Health, Jacki Klancher

Whether it's planning out your degree, or preparing for a long distance bike ride - the premise is the same: take bites you can chew; don't choke; find reward in small accomplishments and keep your eye on the prize, the end of the semester, or the finish line, but focus your energy on what is in front of you each day.

On June 8, 2018 five CWC students will embark on a very, big, bike ride. If the ride is examined as one large mouthful, the primary emotion is terror. The ride needs to be looked at in hours, then days, and finally weeks on the bike. The ride is the Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride - 2700 miles of remote bicycling along the spine of continental US. Tackling this event has taken eight months of preparation.

Like getting a college degree, even starting this ride is daunting. It requires commitment and time. The finish is so far out on the horizon, it is almost unimaginable. These five students have been thinking, talking, meeting, dreaming, shopping - oh yeah and spending hours on their bikes - in preparation for this event since October 2017. They have investigated various fundraising opportunities (finally settling on raffling off a bike from Gannet Peak Sports), have talked in detail about how to get the most out of their knees, their quads, and their bottoms, and have visualized what it will be like to finally launch on the ride. Most have not yet begun to even think about the END. The first step is starting.

From the first hour out of the gates, there is little about this ride that can be noted with any great certainty.  Of the just under 200 riders starting at the YWCA in Banff, AB, only 25% will finish. During the first week, close to 100 riders will need to withdraw their participation due to injury, mechanical problems, or the unfortunate discovery that this was not nearly as much fun as it sounded on television.

The ride, suffice to say is difficult. It taxes tendons, and temperament, spirit, and stamina.