Resources for 2020 Interns

Writing Workshop

All interns take part in a weekly writing workshop to improve their scientific writing and public presentation skills. The courses will be focused on writing your summer research paper, giving a scientific talk, and preparing your final poster presentation.

The ability to write clear succinct prose is an essential skill for scientists seeking to gain rewarding employment and for later career advancement. To write clear prose first requires an ability to think clearly and logically. Together we will explore the basic structure and purpose of scientific papers and their underlying logic. Our ultimate goal is to help you construct your own paper and a meeting abstract that both describe your RESESS research.

Key Deliverables or Summer 2020

  • A professional research article
  • A scientific oral presentation
  • A scientific/technical poster & presentation

Overall Writing Workshop Objectives

Although it may not seem so, writing is integral to the processes of science. The most brilliant minds in the world, after all, would go unnoticed if they never communicated with anyone. The study of writing, I’ll argue, is even more important the more brilliant the scientist is. When a scientist discovers something new or advances their discipline in any way, it is essential that she communicate her findings to her fellow scientists, but also to the public and to funding bodies.

Because you will write in so many different genres and for so many different audiences, this workshop will focus on the process of writing rather than the final product. Of course, the final products—your article for a scientific journal, a conference presentation, and a poster—will be important, but more importantly, I’m going to ask that you come to think of writing as reflective, recursive, collaborative, and manageable.

We will spend a good deal of time this summer exploring these terms as you progress through your work with your mentors. And a lot of people who know a lot more about science than I do will guide you through the production of professional-level documents. In our time, together, though, I want to focus on the following objectives:

Writing—both the process and the product—cannot be separated from its historical and social context. Language, power, and identity are inevitably imbricated in any text, and we will discuss our own particular relationships to the languages, identities, and powers at work in the scientific community.

Scientists need to understand their audiences, especially when communicating their ideas to the public. Current cultural attitudes toward science and scientific methods underline the need for the next generation of scientists to understand large, heterogeneous audiences. In writing studies, this is called “rhetorical awareness.”

Writing is essential to the work of science, especially in terms of communications with funding bodies. This summer we will explore different approaches to the kinds of collaborative writing that solicit and win funding.

Finally, scientists need to communicate to other scientists. We’ll look at the different ways that scientists disseminate their findings including articles, conference proceedings and posters like you’ll produce as part of this internship, but also the more mundane, informal modes of communication.


Dr. Seth Myers, University of Colorado at Boulder

My name is Dr. Seth Myers, but please feel free to call me Seth. If you feel more comfortable, you can certainly call me Dr. Myers, but I’d prefer Seth.

I come from a family of academics in the humanities. My mother has a Ph.D. in education and directs the literacy center at Santa Clara University outside San Jose, California, my father is an instructor of writing at Santa Clara, my brother is nearing the end of his Ph.D. in History at Cornell University, and my sister is a journalist for the Stanford medical school magazine and writes novels. Dinner with the family is only weirder than you imagine.

I grew up kind of all over the place. Academics often have non-traditional career trajectories, and so we followed my mom through her graduate degrees from Colorado to Texas and then with her first jobs in Bakersfield, CA, then a small town in Plattsburgh, NY. When they moved back out to California, I began my own journey. I have a B.A. in Anthropology from Cornell University (my little brother’s a copycat!), an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Professional Communication from New Mexico State University. I have been a full-time student for 23 of my 41 years, and a teacher for 15. It’s safe to say that I enjoy university life.

And that enjoyment is really central to my teaching philosophy and how I’d suggest that you approach your work this summer and throughout your careers. Obviously academic work is not always thrilling and there is a lot of hard, boring work that goes into any big, serious project. However, there are times when everything comes together, when you have big questions and find their answers. And I would say that when people are enjoying themselves, they are more likely to learn, especially writing. So much of our experience of writing carries so much anxiety that anything we can do to relax into our work will make it stronger, more clear, and more effective.

The last thing that I’ll say is that while I have tried to anticipate your needs and your questions, I will invariably have blind spots, and I need your help. Please never hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns. The joy is teaching is the joy of learning, and we will do this together.