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$200,000 Pledge Establishes Endowment Fund
to Support MBL’s Science Journalism Program

Call it the Science Journalism Program’s “Golden” opportunity. When MBL Honorary Trustee William T. Golden pledged $200,000 to provide ongoing support for the Science Journalism Program, he challenged the MBL to establish a $2 million endowment “to insure this program’s long-term continuity.” He also offered to help raise the additional funds. Golden’s challenge has already garnered support from the Arthur Ross Foundation and from Science Journalism Program alumni. Efforts to establish this important endowment will continue well into 2004.

“The program is impressively intense and comprehensive,” said Golden, in a recent fundraising letter he drafted personally. “I’m confident it does much good toward improving the public understanding of science.”

Golden has a long history of influencing the development of US science policy and he has helped advance public support of the sciences. In addition to his support of the MBL, Golden is chair emeritus of the American Museum of Natural History and has held board and trustee positions at institutions including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the New York Academy of Sciences.

“William Golden’s generous pledge is a great endorsement of the MBL’s Science Journalism Program,” said the program’s administrative director, Pamela Clapp Hinkle. Golden and his fellow donors have chosen a unique program to support. Where else but the MBL can journalists and scientists clone DNA together, attend scientific seminars and lobster bakes, and stay up late discussing the challenges of science and science writing? What better setting than the scientific village of Woods Hole for science journalists to learn what scientists do directly from the scientists themselves?

Which is precisely the point. The goal of the program, now in its 19th year, is to give journalists, editors, broadcast journalists, and authors a first-hand view of scientific life by offering summer fellowships at the MBL of up to eight weeks. It also helps scientists develop a better understanding of what life is like behind the reporter’s notebook.

Program alumnus David Kestenbaum, a National Public Radio reporter, described the experience this way: “It is possible as a journalist to understand the contents of a biology paper intellectually or to profile a researcher by spending a day in the lab. But this summer I actually learned to pipette, to pour gels, to use a DNA library. More importantly I learned about how biologists decide which questions to pursue and which to punt on, and how they go about trying to answer those questions. Also how the yeast people make fun of the clam people, and how when you pipette a microliter . . . it’s an article of faith that the drop really exists. That’s the stuff that really informs my reporting, helps me bring stories alive . . . ”

All MBL Science Journalists participate in one or two intensive week-long Hands-On Laboratory courses. The core program offers a carefully measured blend of hands-on science, scientific seminars, social gatherings, and other scientific adventures. Some journalists stay on and participate in field research with ecologists from the MBL’s Ecosystems Center or to attend lectures and lab sessions in MBL’s advanced summer courses.

To date, the Science Journalism Program has granted fellowships to over 200 journalists from a wide range of news organizations, including The New York Times, Science, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, CNN, and Scientific American. It is also gaining cachet with journalists overseas, and includes alumni from such far-reaching places as Africa, Brazil, Sweden, India, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Donors interested in supporting this “Golden” opportunity may contact Pamela Clapp Hinkle, Science Journalism Program, Marine Biological Laboratory, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543.