Alumni Stories: Sandeep Ravindran

Science Writer
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Microbiology & Immunology PhD, 2009


What from your experiences, development, research, and interactions at Stanford have you found essential to success in your postgraduate career?

I received lots of helpful advice and guidance from my research advisor as well as from the career office in how to switch fields from academia to science writing. The training and experience I received in reading and critiquing journal articles translated well to my new career.

I found lots of ways to get training and experience in science writing while still a graduate student at Stanford. I did some writing (as well as volunteer work) for the San Jose Tech museum as part of the Stanford at The Tech program, and those clips and outreach experiences were extremely helpful in getting me started in the field.

I also took a really good environmental journalism class at Stanford (COMM 177C: Specialized Writing and Reporting: Environmental Journalism). The class helped me get some published clips and also gave me lots of practical training in science and environmental journalism.

What have you found personally rewarding about your work/field?

I think a science writer needs to have a broad interest in science and also an interest communicating it to a lay audience. Traditionally, that meant an interest in writing as well, although these days there are also opportunities in radio or video production.

As a science writer for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, I summarize scientific journal articles from all fields of science, interview scientists for profiles and Q&A articles, and create fortnightly podcasts about scientists and their research. I work in a regular office environment, but I know other science writers who work from home, or report regularly from the field, so the work environment can vary widely.

What information would you share with PhD candidates who are interested in your current field?

I love reading and writing about many different fields of science in any given week, getting to interview a variety of scientists about their research, and finding ways to make it accessible to a wider audience.

For more on opportunities in this job sector, see Communications/Media

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