CELS Communications Fellowship Provides MESM Students with Funding and Job Readiness Skills

Former CELS Communication Fellow Rita Lavoie works on a GIS project as the principal planner and GIS manager for the town of Middletown. Photo credit: Matt Sheeley

“Participating in the Communications Fellowship program was one of the most worthwhile experiences of my life,” says Morgan Devlin, a staff scientist at Langan Engineering & Environmental Science and a 2016 alumna of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS) Communications Fellowship. Established in 2014 by Dean John Kirby in partnership with Metcalf Institute, CELS Fellowship helps graduate students strengthen their science communication skills through hands-on experience. “Learning to write for varied audiences – not just the scientific community – has been very useful for my career,” Devlin adds.

Each year, under the guidance of a skilled communications professional, two MESM graduate students play an integral role in raising CELS’ profile by promoting the work of faculty, students, alumni, and programs to audiences including prospective students, parents, and the public.

The fellows gain experience gathering information for news stories; interviewing; and writing content for the CELS website, social media accounts, and newsletter. “I can say with confidence that I am a stronger science communicator because of the fellowship and mentorship I received from the professional staff at CELS and Metcalf Institute,” said Gloria Kostadinova, a 2017 CELS alumna and marketing communication coordinator for Clean Ocean Access. “From interviewing scientists across disciplines to managing a communications strategy and mentoring other peers, the CELS fellowship has helped me develop critical professional and leadership skills that I will utilize in my career.”

A key responsibility of the fellow is to write stories about CELS students, faculty, staff, and alumni as part of the Big Thinker series. “By crafting Big Thinker articles month after month, I refined my ability to write clearly and concisely for a diverse audience,” said Rita, a 2017 CELS alumna, and GIS Manager and Principal Planner for the Town of Middletown, Rhode Island. Fellows also gain communications experience by working with the Metcalf Institute team to advance conversations about science and the environment. 

Fellows also interact with deans and department chairs and receive a unique perspective on the research and academic initiatives underway in CELS. “Researching for and writing Big Thinker articles gives me a deeper understanding and inside look at all of the work, research, and learning that is happening in CELS,” said Hannah MacDonald, the 2020 CELS fellow.

The fellowship includes full tuition for the academic year, a 20 hour-per-week stipend, and an all-expense paid professional conference each academic year. The application deadline is March 15, 2022. For more information, contact Brett Still, MESM coordinator and CELS lecturer, at bstill@uri.edu.