Communication studies major Kristen Kiernicki ’09 was one of 13 students nationwide invited to attend a Rutgers Journalism Resources Institute conference this past April as a national Merck Scholar. Sponsored by the Merck Company Foundation, the Merck Science Journalism Scholars program brings graduate and undergraduate students, most of whom are majoring in science journalism, to Rutgers for an intensive program on the craft of writing news about science and the environment. Students each received a $1,000 scholarship for attending and a plaque commemorating their participation in the program.
Kiernicki was selected in part because her senior-authored paper on nationwide newspaper coverage of adult obesity was the only undergraduate paper accepted for presentation by the Science Communication Interest Group at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication held in Chicago in August 2008. The paper was written for a communication research methods course taught by her adviser, John C. Pollock, professor and chair of the communication studies department and adviser of the health communication interdisciplinary concentration.
As part of the conference, Kiernicki and the other students in attendance had the opportunity to tour the newsrooms of The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Bloomberg News, where they engaged in discussions with science writers and editors.