ASPB/AAAS Mass Media Fellowship Alumnus spotlight – Eric Hamilton

Interested in science communication? Look no further. The AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship carries out the mission to increase public understanding of science and technology. Over the past decades, more than 700 scientists have gone through the 10-week summer program and explored the realm of science journalism. ASPB has been a proud sponsor of the fellowship and would love to foster our community members to become engaging science communicators. We interviewed our recent ASPB/AAAS fellows to hear about their experiences in the program as well as how the program pivoted their careers and perspectives.

The deadline for the 2021 application is on January 1, 2021 at 11:59 EST. Students and postdoc (or within one year of completion) are encouraged to apply.


Eric Hamilton (2015)

In graduate school, Eric discovered that he preferred speaking about science to doing scientific research: “I like learning a little bit about a lot of different scientific disciplines and I like the challenge of writing about research in an approachable way.” During his fellowship, he was stationed at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the largest newspaper in Wisconsin. He covered a lot of research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and he kept in touch with the offices at the university while finishing his PhD after the fellowship. He eventually became a Science Writer in University Communications at the University of Wisconsin–Madison: “When a position opened up, I applied and got the job. Without the Mass Media Fellowship, that would never have happened, both because of the experience and because of the personal connections.”

Bridging between UW–Madison research and a broad audience, Eric writes about just-publishing manuscripts and features of interesting, long-term research projects. The research stories are shared with journalists to encourage independent coverage as well as on the UW–Madison news site and on the quarterly print alumni magazine, reaching the 60,000 UW community members and more than 400,000 alumni. In additional to writing himself, Eric helps writers around campus by editing their pieces and ushering them through the channels in the central communications office. He also helps manage any controversial issues that are tied to scientific research, which may include funding for fetal tissue research, graduate student workplace grievances, or, of course, pandemics! He has been the primary person updating the summary of the Covid-19 dashboard every day. “During the pandemic, I’ve been closely involved in various elements of our Covid-19 response. This has included operating within the communications division of the Emergency Operations Center during the initial lockdowns to guiding and assembling communications around the campus’s main reopening in September and our ongoing struggles staying open,” recounted Eric.

Outside UW, Eric is still involved in the plant science community. He has written up public versions of the latest research for the American Society of Agronomy/Crop Science Society of America/Soil Science Society of America. He also has freelanced for Plant Editors, a company that edits pre-submission manuscripts written by non-native English speakers in the plant sciences. “My background in plant biology specifically has helped me here. The fellowship and ASPB’s support were very important to my career,” described Eric.


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