Graduate Students: Science Writing

 

Ashley Belanger
Graduate Student, Science Writing, '20

ashleyb@mit.edu
Ashley Belanger Ashley Belanger is a journalist whose reporting, features, and essays explore the tensions between what science discovers and what humans experience. Captivated by neuroscience and technology, as an arts critic, she garnered recognition for essays discussing scientific theories in the context of pop music. Through her career, she’s engaged communities both local, as associate editor of Orlando Weekly, and national, as culture writer for the classic television network MeTV. In her freelance reporting, she works to connect public health studies to critical social issues and has generated in-depth web features for Teen Vogue on complex topics, including child marriage and school shootings. She earned a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Florida and, through the Graduate Program in Science Writing, plans to continue investigating public health studies to increase awareness of underreported women’s issues.
Fernanda de Araújo Ferreira
Graduate Student, Science Writing, '20

dearaujo@mit.edu
Fernanda de Araújo Ferreira Fernanda de Araújo Ferreira watched her first science classes from under a desk, drawing while her mother taught plate tectonics to geology students. She took her first official university-level science classes while majoring in General Biology at the Universidade de Brasília (UnB) in Brazil and is now completing her Ph.D. in Virology, studying the nature of the latent reservoir of HIV-2, at Harvard University.

She initially got into science writing as an excuse to take deep dives into various areas of science, from zoopharmacognosy to AI, that were not HIV-2. After writing for Harvard’s Science in the News and GSAS Bulletin, as well as taking courses through Harvard’s creative writing program, she’s excited to pursue science journalism full-time. She writes about all areas of science (including math!), but has a special love for infectious diseases and, unsurprisingly, plate tectonics.
Rachel Fritts
Graduate Student, Science Writing, '20

rfritts@mit.edu
Rachel Fritts Rachel Fritts grew up taking every opportunity to explore the natural world, whether by catching salamanders in her back yard, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, or inspecting tide pools on family vacations. That early interest led her to pursue a B.A. in Biology from Grinnell College and an M.S. in Marine Environmental Management from the University of York, before returning to Grinnell for a year-long editorial fellowship. Rachel’s environmental journalism to date has focused on sustainable resource use and wildlife conservation, and can be found at publications like Pacific Standard, Mongabay, Ensia, and Hakai Magazine. She also writes video scripts about evolution for the PBS Digital Studios channel Eons.
Jessie Hendricks
Graduate Student, Science Writing, '20

jhendric@mit.edu
Jessie Hendricks Jessie Hendricks will be joining the Graduate Program in Science Writing after eight years in Los Angeles, where she has spent time as an actor, science communicator, and content creator. She currently produces and hosts SCIENCED, a scicomm podcast for the SoCal Science Writing group, as well as serves on their membership committee. She has written and hosted many science videos on the YouTube channel Everyday Science, including parody science music videos and a series on the periodic table called #ElementADayInMay, as well as written and guest-hosted for other outlets such as Skybound Entertainment’s Gamma Ray TV. She got her start in science communication while producing citizen science outreach videos for the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center on harmful algal blooms. Her current science writing interests include science storytelling in the entertainment industry, science history, quantum entanglement, and shark immunology.
Zain Humayun
Graduate Student, Science Writing, '20

zainh@mit.edu
Zain Humayun Zain Humayun grew up reading and playing football in Islamabad, a city nestled in the Himalayan foothills. In his science books at school, he discovered electricity and the water-cycle — phenomena as enchanting as the magic in his fantasy novels. At the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Zain grappled with integrals in physics before switching to computer science, attracted by the discipline’s unrelenting emphasis on logical clarity. His classes on networks, algorithms and artificial intelligence offered a close look at the inner workings of the Internet. After being inspired by a creative writing class with novelist Bilal Tanweer, Zain returned to his computer science coursework with a renewed interest in storytelling, and the human lives affected by big tech, automation, and algorithmic bias. As a writer, Zain hopes to address the gap between the world’s understanding of computers, and our ever-growing dependence on them.
Lucy Jakub
Graduate Student, Science Writing, '20

ljakub@mit.edu
Lucy Jakub Lucy Jakub is an essayist and editor. She grew up on the coast of Maine. As a nonfiction major at Columbia University, she developed a mantra for her writing: “follow the weird.” After following the weird through the frat houses of the Upper West Side, it led her to more interesting subjects—bedbugs, blobfish, radiolarians, and speculative biology. Since graduating she has worked at The New York Review of Books, finding commissions for her favorite science writers, removing em dashes, and inserting Oxford commas. She hopes to continue to support print media and long-form journalism from the other side of the editor’s desk. When she’s not writing, she’s baking elaborate desserts for her friends and listening to Björk sing about plate tectonics.
Kate Petersen
Graduate Student, Science Writing, '20

kspeter@mit.edu
Kate Petersen Kate Petersen spent her early adulthood living in wilderness, traveling by freight train, and being generally feral. Her drive to investigate and experience the manifold facets of life eventually drew her back to civilization to study biology and ecology at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She has published papers on lichen and bryophyte ecology, and conducted field studies on the open Atlantic Ocean and deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She is pursuing a career in science communication because she observes the information gap between scientists and non-scientists increasing while anthropogenic impacts on the biosphere reach apocalyptic levels. She hopes that her work will support well-informed social and policy decisions going forward. She is also counting on science journalism to abet her enduring ambition to learn about everything. Kate goes to mountains and old forests whenever she can, and makes art from sticks, bones, and fiber.
Nafisa Syed
Graduate Student, Science Writing, '20

nsyd@mit.edu
Nafisa Syed Nafisa Syed grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where she read almost everything she could get her hands on. She had her first experiences with journalism and with the real-world scientific process in high school, producing a radio documentary with her local NPR station and helping excavate human bone in a bioarcheology lab. She graduated from MIT in 2019 with a double-major in Biology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences. While a college student, she became the first editor of The Tech’s Science section, worked in a neurolinguistics lab studying how the brain produces and interprets language, and spent a semester interning at NOVA Next. As an aspiring physician and writer, Nafisa hopes to use her year in the graduate program to become well-versed in writing about public health and medicine so that she can effectively use her communication skills and future medical expertise to serve the public.