About cSw

Each year, curiousSCIENCEwriters selects a group of high school students through a highly competitive application process to participate in an intensive extracurricular training program. Key elements include mentoring by scientists and science communications professionals through remote and onsite sessions. This collaborative process, which includes student writers, editors, graphic designers and social media coordinators results in credible, engaging science stories that are disseminated through a variety of traditional and trending media outlets.

Founded in 2010 by Jayne Mackta, past president of the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research, cSw operated under the auspices of States United for Biomedical Research from 2013 to 2018. The program is now hosted by Americans for Medical Progress which has expanded the initiative. AMP continued to run cSw both before and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 and 2021 summer Boot Camps were held virtually for safety reasons.

Do you have the drive and passion for science communication?

Our 2021-22 Chief Editor Shivani Patel, discusses the training program for exceptional high school students with a passion for science and writing. Created to “advance the art of science communication,” cSw is an innovative, extracurricular program that prepares highly motivated high school communicators to bring complex biomedical science to the general public through the power of story.

Program Team

Jim Newman
Editorial Advisor and Faculty Leader

Jim Newman serves as director of strategic communications for Americans for Medical Progress, where he leads AMP’s media and communications. In the past, Jim was the director of external communications for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the director of media relations for Oregon Health & Science University and OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center. Jim has also worked as an account supervisor at KGBTexas Communications, a highly-regarded PR and marketing firm in Texas, with offices in San Antonio and Houston. Jim’s other professional experience includes nearly a decade of work as a television news producer in the following media markets: Portland, Oregon; Nashville, Tennessee; South Bend, Indiana; and Lansing, Michigan.

Paula Clifford
Program Coordinator

Paula Clifford serves as the executive director for Americans for Medical Progress (AMP), a non-profit organization that provides innovative programs to provide information to the public about biomedical research and the important role animals have in advancing medicine and science. Previously, she worked for the Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research (PSBR) where she led efforts to provide educational programs about biomedical research for K-12 students.  Her past professional roles include; Co-founder and Vice President of Operations for Animal Care Training Services (ACTS); and Veterinary Technician and then Training Manager at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Paula received a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University, and an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology from Camden County College.  She is a Pennsylvania Licensed Veterinary Technician (CVT) and is certified by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) as a Registered Laboratory Animal Technologist (RLATG

Alisa Zapp Machalek
Science Writer Consultant

Alisa Zapp Machalek is a science communicator at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. She creates a variety of products—feature articles, profiles, social media posts, videos, quizzes, posters, and crossword puzzles—to explain cutting-edge biomedical research. She aims to make the science understandable and interesting to the public (which, after all, is paying for it). Occasionally, she gets juicy projects such as creating an exhibit of stunning microscopy photos for display in an art gallery inside Washington Dulles International Airport. Alisa earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in biochemistry and conducted research in 10 different laboratories before she realized she liked explaining science more than actually doing it. She received formal training through the science writing program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Manasi Apte, Ph.D
Program Faculty

Manasi is a Scientist+Communicator, currently based at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, USA (www.highlight-communications.org). Manasi is now an accomplished science researcher, communicator, and public engagement practitioner, working with several initiatives in the United States and India for more than a decade. She recently got featured as one of the #WomeninSTEM role models. Born in India, she immigrated to the United States for her graduate training from Wayne State University. Upon receiving her Ph.D., Manasi pursued her interests in science as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she quickly realized her passion for science communication and public engagement alongside research. Manasi believes in building connections via communications and for her, impactful storytelling is the way for connecting any two ideas, data points, and even people. She strongly believes that telling your story effectively is the key to effective communication and plans to use her expertise in science as well as communications to increase science literacy for diverse publics. She has been associated with CsW program as a communications mentor since 2019 and in 2021, she came on board as a faculty running a multi-session workshop series “SciComm Workouts” for our participants where they learned and practiced hands-on activities for becoming a better, clearer, and more productive science communicators.  Find out more about Manasi– www.highlight-communications.org

Jayne Mackta
Founder

Jayne has devoted her adult life to advocating for families affected by genetic disorders and promoting public understanding of biomedical research. Since her first job out of college with the Encyclopedia Americana where she reduced lengthy articles to single paragraphs, she has searched for the secret of saying more in fewer words. A fierce enemy of jargon, Jayne delights in coaching young editors in the art of deleting words that obscure meaning.