Whether it’s artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robots, 3-D printing, drones or space exploration, Signe Brewster’s got it covered. Brewster puts what she learned during her undergraduate education at CALS to use every day as a freelance science and technology journalist based in St. Paul, Minn.
“I write about emerging hardware, which is anything that’s on the fringe, and I think about if it’s going to be a viable technology that can impact the world,” says Brewster, explaining how she chooses stories. “The Department of Life Sciences Communication really prepared me to write about these topics. In my professional life, everyone does a double take when they hear there is a degree combining science and writing.”
During her time in LSC, Brewster took a slew of classes that covered science writing, photography, marketing, communication theory and risk communication. Along the way she picked up skills and theories she now applies to every word of her writing. After graduation, she traveled to Switzerland to intern for six months at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, writing about physics. She then held a fellowship at the popular tech publication Wired, putting in her time on the West Coast. From there she became a staff writer at Gigaom, a technology research and analysis firm, before becoming a full-time freelancer a little over a year ago.
What are some LSC classes that you feel really benefited you?
In Shiela Reaves’s photography class, I really enjoyed the class discussions and critiques from my peers. It was just so beneficial being in a place like LSC surrounded by so many others who shared my interests. I still do a lot of photography and go back to those class concepts.
Ron Seely’s science writing class was my first formal training in how to translate technical science and technology issues for a general audience. Having someone watch over my science writing and give feedback was something no one else could provide. I now write for publications such as MIT Technology Review, Wired, Symmetry Magazine, New Scientist and TechCrunch, among others.
What about theory classes in LSC?
I really learned a lot about communication theory from Dominique Brossard’s risk communication class, as well as from Dietram Scheufele’s “Science, Media and Society.” Learning about risk and communication theory gives me insight into how others think and talk about science.
What makes LSC special to you?
I knew I wanted to be a science writer since I started writing about stem cell research. Life Sciences Communication educated me in skills and theories that I was able to apply at the Badger Herald on campus, my numerous internships and now my freelance career. The Department of Life Sciences Communication is just a unique place that gave me exactly what I was interested in.