As a reporter covering the energy boom for StateImpact Pennsylvania, Susan Phillips has hung out with the residents of Dimock, a plastic surgeon making house calls in the village of Rae, and even a hitchhiking shale gas poet.
Now, she’s headed up to Cambridge to hang out with academics — and other immensely talented science journalists like her.
Susan was one of 12 journalists chosen for the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT in 2013-14. That means she’ll get to spend nine months taking classes, attending seminars and going to boot camps with some of the world’s preeminent energy researchers.
Susan is looking forward to immersing herself with so many smart people, and to developing sources who can deepen her reporting on energy and environmental issues in the future.
“One thing about this beat, she says, “is that there’s a plethora of studies and conclusions coming out every other day that contradict each other. It’s hard to know, if you don’t have a science background, what to believe and what not to believe.” Susan says it will be good to find “sources you can trust, and check with in terms of — is this a story or is it not a story? If it’s a story, what should I look for? What questions should I ask about it?”
As a Knight Science Journalism Fellow, Susan will be free of deadlines for almost a year. She’s also required to design her own course of study and take at least one science class per semester at either MIT or Harvard. Susan isn’t yet sure what classes she’ll take, but there’s one thing she knows she wants to get out of it.
“I’m hoping to learn about new energy sources on the horizon,” she says. “On one hand, there’s what the new research is and technologies involved with clean energy. But also, what’s the next fossil fuel development they’ll go after?”
Big congratulations to Susan, who expects to wind down with StateImpact in late July. The fellowship starts in Cambridge in mid-August. She can return to WHYY when the program finishes in May 2014.