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Communicating & Writing

Stony Brook University offers the following courses and seminars to help further the professional development of students and postdocs in communicating and writing.


Alda Center for Communicating Science Courses

Looking to enhance your ability to talk about your research to anyone? The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science offers a series of 1-credit graduate-level modules on their innovative communication techniques for connecting with an audience. Interested participants are recommended to begin with 501 and 503.

Graduate Students: Communicating Science courses are open to masters and PhD students in STEM disciplines. Tuition is covered for PhD students (in the fall or spring semester) if they are currently supported full time by their program (TA/GA/RA or Fellow) and have a full Graduate Tuition Scholarship. Enrollment in the course requires pre-approval from your Graduate Program Director. Masters students can also enroll and pay tuition as normal.  Register now through SOLAR.

Undergraduates: Undergraduates can enroll in SOLAR for JRN 365 TALKING SCIENCE, which is designed to help science majors learn to speak effectively and responsively with multiple audiences, from peers and professors to potential employers and policymakers.

Postdocs: Two spots are available in each of the following classes for postdocs to participate "free" as an auditor. Postdocs may only sign up for one class per semester, and must sign up during course registration each semester by contacting the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at  


JRN 503 Communicating Science: Improvisation for Scientists This innovative course uses improvisational theater techniques to help students communicate more directly and responsively. It’s not about acting; it’s about connecting with an audience.

JRN 501 Communicating Science: Distilling Your Message Students learn to speak clearly and vividly about their work and why it matters, in terms non-scientists can understand.

JRN 502 Communicating Science: Writing to be Understood Students develop their ability to write about science or health for a public audience without “dumbing down” their material.

JRN 508 Communicating Science: Engaging Key Audiences (Pre-requisite: JRN 501 or JRN 503) 

JRN 509 Communicating Science: Presenting Science Unplugged (Pre-requisite: JRN 501 or JRN 503)

JRN 512 Video Storytelling for Scientists (Pre-requisite: JRN 501 or JRN 503)


Writing Program Courses

Graduate Students:

WRT 621: Graduate-Level Writing

The Program in Writing and Rhetoric will offer a course each semester, WRT 621, Graduate-Level Writing, designed for students in all disciplines.  The course will be a workshop that allows the students to work on whatever writing they are currently doing in their graduate programs, whether course papers, lab reports, reviews of research, publishable articles, or theses.  The students for the course will be from all disciplines and they will learn from each other as well as from the instructor.  The course will concern itself with all the fundamentals of writing, from considerations of grammar and punctuation, to rhetorical considerations of audience, evidence, inference-drawing, sentence and paragraph construction, and organization.



WRT 380: Advanced Research Writing: Theories, Methods, Practices

Good research skills are critical to academic success. Most disciplines require writing based upon research, as arguments and explanations make little impact on audiences without effective supporting evidence, drawn from relevant scholarship on the subject. This involves knowing how to use appropriate databases, source materials, and composing processes, as well as negotiating the values, genres, and languages of the scholarly communities in which one is researching. In this course, students will learn fundamentals of research methods, practice these methods in a series of integrated research and writing assignments, and engage in critical reflection about research and writing.

Flyer for Fall 2014

WRT 305: Writing for the Health Professions

This course will enable students interested in a healthcare career to strengthen their critical writing skills. While learning to gather information and to apply ethical principles in a logical, persuasive fashion, students will explore and write about various types of evidence concerning the healthcare needs of different populations: a field research project on a health issue affecting a local target population of their choice, a critique of government documents that contain data on that issue and population, and a review of scholarly research on the same issue as it affects the larger national population represented by that local one.

Flyer for Spring 2015

WRT/EGL 381: Advanced Analytic and Argumentative Writing

Argumentative writing involves making a claim and supporting with specific, related points and appropriate evidence—in other words, it is thesis-driven writing. Whenever we don’t quite like someone else’s idea and we want him or her to come closer to ours, argumentative writing is the most efficient method for such persuasion, in whatever profession you’re considering. This class, therefore, will focus on learning how to effectively utilize argumentative and counter-argumentative writing strategies.

Flyer for Spring 2015


Career Center Workshops


Successful Personal Statement for Graduate School and Fellowships

A workshop series on writing persuasive personal statements useful for applying to graduate school or applying for fellowships. 

Flyer for Spring 2015


Making Yourself Competitive for Graduate School 

A workshop providing insight to students on the criteria and strategies for applying to graduate school. 

Flyer for Spring 2015


Frontiers Magazine

Interested in writing science for a general audience? Enhancing your communication skills? Stony Brook's Frontiers Magazine is looking for more science writers. 

Stony Brook University Frontiers Magazine is a student-run STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) review magazine, dedicated to promote STEM awareness and education. Its goal is to communicate groundbreaking work in STEM fields, especially research conducted at Stony Brook University, to a widespread audience. The target audiences range from middle school students to professionals in non-STEM fields (current and future generation of scientists, policy makers, and donors). 

The Frontiers team consists of Stony Brook graduate students and postdocs from diverse disciplines, who are responsible for writing, editing, and promoting. The team is mentored by Dr. Elizabeth Bass, Director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Supporters include: the Graduate Student Organization (GSO), Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME), Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science; department of Physics, Biochemistry, Ecology and Evolution, Pharmacology, Dr. Martha Furie (Genetics Program).

Writers for Frontiers SBU will be able to enhance their communication skills, participate in the publication process, and network with their peers, obtaining valuable professional development for a range of professional careers. The magazine is particularly interested in students and postdocs who have participated in SBU's communicating science curriculum. 

For more information on these positions, please contact


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