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21W.035 The “Awesome” Profile


Jared Berezin

The “Awesome” Profile

“Science can be a subject of beautiful writing, just like description of a landscape or memories of a love affair… even science writing can have an emotional impact.”    —Alan Lightman, physicist, author of Einstein’s Dreams


Due Dates:

  1. Monday 10/22:Draft email to your interviewee (do not send the draft email until after today’s class)
  2. Wednesday 10/31: Upload your profile draft to the course site before class
  3. Monday 11/5: Peer-review workshop
  4. Wednesday 11/7: Upload your revised profile draft before class


Purpose:The goal of this article is to bring your subject—your profiled person and their area of scientific wonder—to life for the reader. You may select any scientist, researcher, professor, or graduate student at MIT for your article. Use descriptive details to craft a meaningful profile that makes your subject and their “awesome” interest tangible for the audience. Enable readers to feel that they “know” the person you are writing about, and in turn, become inspired by their story and field of interest. This article should demonstrate your ability to describe a person meaningfully and explain a scientific topic within a clear, well-organized story. Ultimately, you should strive to inspire your audience by reaching their “head” and “heart”—their intellect (logos) and emotion (pathos)—in order to connect with and educate your readers in a memorable way.

Note on the Interview:Refer to the “Strategies for Interviewing Strangers” document for information on how to contact and interview your subject. Securing an in-person meeting could be the most challenging aspect of this assignment, and will require clear communication and persistence. Please keep me posted with any issues. I’m happy to help.

Audience: You are writing for the general public. They are unaware of the person you are writing about and unfamiliar with the scientific topic.

Context: The article will appear in an online magazine or newspaper, such as the New York Times or Popular Science. In each of these contexts there is no “automatic audience,” that is, as a writer you must capture and sustain the attention of potential readers if you want them to read and remember your story.


  • PDF to preserve formatting
  • 1” x 1” margins
  • Size 12 Times New Roman font
  • In-text citations and a Works Cited list
  • 1000-1200 words
  • Single-spaced text
  • Include page numbers


Additional requirements and tips:

  • Include at least one original photo with a brief caption. Additional images do not need to be original, and accordingly, they require accurate citations.
  • Craft a meaningful title—these are the first words your readers will see as they decide whether or not to read your article.
  • Before you submit your draft, always re-read your writing, preferably aloud, to detect ideas that need to be tightened and/or reorganized for clarity.