Professional Development Opportunity for Ph.D. students

PhD Career Development LogoScience Writing for News Outlets: Fall 2020

An 8-week professional development opportunity for Ph.D. students at MSU

You will learn skills to develop strong ideas, identify potential publishing outlets, how to pitch your story to editors, identify and interview potential sources, and adapt your writing to a general audience.

Each participant will be expected to produce one reported article or op-ed piece that is ready for publication by the end of the eight weeks.

Lead by Matthew Miller, Editor and Storytelling Coach for the Lansing State Journal and Battle Creek Enquirer, and seasoned journalism mentor.

The cohort will have no more than 6 students.
The success of this project is based on 1) your commitment to the work, 2) your commitment to the group. We want everyone to be successful in writing and publishing a piece, which will require every participant to commit to their project and provide consistent support to each other. Commitment and ability to meet deadlines is more important than prior writing experience.

If you do not think you will have capacity (October-December) to commit to learning, writing, editing, and engaging with peers, then please consider applying at a later date when your schedule and capacity allow. 

Total program length: 8 weeks

First meeting will take place on Tuesday, October 6. 
Meetings will be held on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. 
All meetings will be virtual.

  • Weekly Tuesday evening group meeting via Zoom to cover journalism “basics” and discuss topics like journalism ethics, impact metrics, writing for a general audience, etc.
  • Weekly virtual one-on-one meeting with Matt Miller, your editor/mentor
    The focus of the one-on-one meetings will be helping participants to develop story ideas around their own research, craft reporting plans, edit their manuscripts and identify news outlets that might publish their work


Open to Ph.D. students in good standing at MSU. Priority will be given to students in the MSU BEST program and STEM fields (due to the funding source). We welcome all students whose area of expertise lends itself to scientific topics.

To apply

Deadline is Friday, September 25, 2020. Send a letter of interest and a copy of your CV to Julie Rojewski, Director of Ph.D. Career Development, at

Participants will be selected and notified the week of September 28; the first session will be held on Tuesday, October 6. 

In your materials, please describe:

  1. your research in general terms
  2. why you are interested in this project 
  3. why you think public audiences would be interested in your area of research, and 
  4. what you will bring to the team of students with whom you will work closely.

*Please merge your letter of interest and CV into a single PDF file, labeled with this file-naming strategy: [Lastname][ProgramofStudy]Fall20SWNO (i.e. JonesChemistryFall2020SWNO)

Curious what previous cohorts have done? Read these pieces written by your Ph.D. peers from MSU!

Osborn, Rachel. (2020, August 7). “At MSU, a 153-year-old insect collection is being used to solve modern problems.” Lansing State Journal.

Young, Nick. (2020, July 29). “Pandemic, international travel restrictions could mean a TA shortage at MSU.” Lansing State Journal.

Tarrant, Alyssa. (2020, July 29). “Michigan's asparagus harvest seemed to go well, then the COVID-19 outbreaks came.” Lansing State Journal.

Edwards, Kirstin (2020, July 14). “Opinion: Pandemic or not, Michigan students need good science instruction.” Bridge Magazine.

Ferland, David (2018, December 19). “Researchers want to treat high blood pressure earlier. Your doctor might not agree.” Lansing State Journal. 

Benham, Vanessa (2019, April 30) “Obesity poised to overtake smoking as leading preventable cause of cancer.” Lansing State Journal. 

Kouhani, M. Hossein M. (2019, May 30) “In a lab at U-M, working on technology that helps the blind see and other brain-computer connections.” Lansing State Journal. 

Dunivin, Taylor (2019, January 21). “MI Authorities Employ New DNA Analysis Software”  WKAR (Radio).