APS News

APS Selects First Two Mass Media Fellows

The APS has selected two young physicists as the Society's first Mass Media Fellows. Jeffrey Chuang, a physics graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is spending ten weeks this summer at the Dallas Morning News in Dallas, Texas. David Kestenbaum, a staff scientist at Fermilab, is spending his ten-week summer fellowship tenure as an intern at WOSU-AM radio in Columbus, Ohio.

The APS Mass Media Fellowship Program was established last year as a means of improving public understanding and appreciation of science and technology. Specifically, the fellowship provides physicists with an opportunity to participate in the news process by learning to describe complex technical subjects in a manner comprehensible to non-specialists; and understand editorial decision-making and the ways in which information is effectively disseminated.

Chuang received his BA in chemistry and physics from Harvard University in 1996. He is currently a candidate for a PhD in physics at MIT, where he is engaged in research in quantum computation theory. As a research assistant in Harvard's physics department, he developed computer simulations to study the dynamics of creating an antimatter atom. He spent two summers as a research assistant at the Center for Superconductivity, working on high-temperature superconductors, and as a research assistant at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory in East Lansing, Michigan.

While at Harvard, Chuang was a news reporter for the Harvard Independent, a weekly campus newspaper, on the editorial staff of the Harvard Science Review, a college magazine designed to explain scientific topics to the general community, and served on the publicity staff of the Harvard-Radcliffe Television Organization, a college TV station. Ultimately he would like to teach college-level physics and work in science policy.

Chuang said. "Science is critical in many areas that the public must consider, including business, the environment and public policy."

Kestenbaum received his B.S. in physics from Yale University in 1991, where he studied the fractal structure of schizophrenic brain waves and helped develop a detector based on scintillation fibers. He received his PhD in physics from Harvard University in 1996, with a thesis presenting the discovery of the top quark, having worked on the research team that discovered it.

In addition to his scientific work, Kestenbaum worked as a freelance writer for the Chicago Reader, and has written articles for both the CERN Courier and FermiNews, as well as an essay for Modern Physics, an undergraduate textbook. Eventually he would like to combine his scientific research career with one in science writing. "I enjoy boiling down a scientific idea and expressing it in a coherent, compact way," he said. "Ideally sentences should have the same distilled beauty that a theory or an equation does."

He added, "Not everyone needs to be science literate, but as scientists it is our responsibility to communicate our endeavors to the taxpayers who fund us and are affected by our work."

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin