Scripps Alumna Selected as AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellow


Kathryn Furby, an alumna of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, has been selected as a 2018 fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellows Program. The program pushes fellows to use their various academic backgrounds to research, write, and report current events for media organizations, honing their skills in communicating complex scientific issues with the public. Furby will be writing for the Washington Post this summer.

The ten-week program aims to strengthen ties between scientists and journalists by placing scholars with science, engineering, and math backgrounds at media organizations across the country. Fellows participating in the program have worked as reporters, editors, researchers, and production assistants in media outlets such as National Public Radio, WIRED, and more.

While at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Furby’s research focused on coral reef ecology and coral recovery mechanisms, which are important to ensure sustainable management plans. Most of her thesis research was conducted at Palmyra Atoll, a pristine marine wilderness area located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii.

She is also an ardent scientific diver and has captured high quality underwater shots of coral reef environments for research and for science videos. Furby explains the basics of her research and displays some of her underwater skills in this video shot while doing research off the island of Curaçao.

Furby is passionate about humanizing science. Her goal is to do what she can to change science from something the everyday person might shy away from to a topic where people can embrace their natural scientific curiosity.

“The AAAS Mass Media Fellowship is an awesome opportunity to engage young scientists and engineers in the media world,” said Furby. “I finished my PhD at Scripps last year and since then have started a science communication and filmmaking business in San Diego called Tiny Beaker Media.”

Twenty-four scholars were awarded the AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellowship this year, with disciplines ranging from math and astronomy to statistical genomics and developmental biology and more. The fellowship is part of AAAS’s mission to increase the general public’s understanding of various topics surrounding science and technology. Each fellow receives over $5,000 for academic expenses during the fellowship.

Furby will represent UC San Diego alongside Clifford Kapono, a PhD student in the chemistry department, and will be joined by Alexandra Weill from UC Davis in representing the University of California system.

- Shawndiz Hazegh

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