Announcing the 2020 Science as Story Fellowship Recipients


UPDATE: Join us online for a graduation reading where our Science As Story fellows will share portions of their science writing from the workshop series.

Wednesday, June 17th  //  7 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

Register & attend »



We're pleased to introduce the recipients of our 2020 Science as Story Fellowship. This spring, the Fellows will take part in a series of writing workshops, led by writer Katie Booth, exploring the use of narrative in their science-focused stories. 


Megan Arnold

Megan Arnold grew up on a farm in rural Ohio before attending Allegheny College, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2019. She currently works as a post-bac researcher at the Pittsburgh Hearing Research Center, studying the neurobiology of the auditory system. Her interest in how we listen to each other extends beyond the lab bench, through her role as a dialogue moderator and as an advocate for the d/Deaf community.

Sarah Birmingham

Sarah Birmingham graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a double major in physics and geology and currently works as a staff science writer and technology marketing associate at the university's Innovation Institute. She is interested in pursuing data journalism and storytelling with statistics; in particular, using civic data to investigate social inequities that arise in or are exacerbated by an increasingly technological world. In her free time, she likes to collect rocks and climb on them, too.

Tanja Burkhard

Tanja Burkhard is a qualitative researcher and Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Pittsburgh. She is an international scholar from Germany and holds a Ph.D. in Multicultural & Equity Studies in Education and a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics. Her work explores the racialized, gendered, and linguistic experiences of Black transnational women and girls in educational spaces and beyond.

Catharina Coenen

Catharina Coenen is a first-generation German immigrant to northwestern Pennsylvania, where she teaches biology at Allegheny College. Her scientific work has been published in journals such as Plant Physiology, Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, and Trends in Plant Science. Her essays can be found in the American Scholar, the Southampton Review Online, the Christian Science Monitor, Appalachian Heritage, and elsewhere. She has been awarded a Hedgebrook Residency for 2020.

Anastasia Gorelova

Anastasia (Ana) Gorelova is a full-time researcher and a freelance science writer, who recently received her doctorate in Molecular Pharmacology from the University of Pittsburgh. Ana has been writing about science since 2017. Her articles appeared in Pacific Standard, Quartz, Salon, and Massive Science. She is a graduate of Moscow State University, Russia, and currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

Marijke Hecht

Marijke Hecht received her PhD in Learning Sciences and Policy from the University of Pittsburgh. Marijke’s research and practice make use of urban greenspaces as sites for learning, advocacy, and stewardship. She explores how relational processes between learners, educators, and nonhuman nature support environmental interest and identity development. As a researcher, she brings an interdisciplinary approach to her scholarship, weaving together environmental education, community-based ecological design, learning sciences, and naturalist practices. Her perspective is also informed by her training as a naturalist with a Master of Science in Botany. Before entering graduate school, Marijke worked in Pittsburgh’s parks for 14 years.

Donald Krieger

Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher whose focus is the electric activity within the brain. He worked for 18 years as on-call staff clinical neurophysiologist for high-risk surgical procedures. His full-length collection, "Discovery," is forthcoming from Cyberwit. His work has appeared in Hanging Loose, Neurology, Live Mag!, the Raw Art Review, Seneca Review, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Asahi Shimbun, Entropy, Vox Populi Sphere, Dissident Voice, and others, and has appeared in several anthologies in both English and Farsi.

Oliver Morrison

Oliver has been recognized with local and national press awards for his coverage of environmental and health challenges in the Pittsburgh region and has co-published work with CityLab, Pittsburgh Magazine, Environmental Health News, the Allegheny Front and WESA. Before PublicSource, Oliver led The Wichita Eagle’s coverage of fracking-related earthquakes, immigration, race and criminal justice reform. One investigation led the state of Kansas to audit its wildfire fighting system. He has freelanced for publications such as The Atlantic, Education Week and City Limits. He is a graduate of Deep Springs College, the University of Oxford and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for seven years as an educator in the Arkansas Delta before embarking on his career in journalism.

Brendan Mullan

Dr. Brendan Mullan is an assistant professor of physics at Point Park University, where he teaches physics and astronomy. As a scientist with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, Brendan works to connect SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), ethics, and sustainability together through the laws of physics. Beyond the ivory tower, Brendan is the Director of Science for The Wrinkled Brain Project, a nonprofit initiative that promotes inquiry and critical thinking in STEM education. He is also a National Geographic Explorer and travels around the world to bring science to people everywhere.

Micah Shelton

Micah Shelton is a Pittsburgh-based researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh with a research focus on the neural mechanisms of opiate addiction.  He is also an advocate for those with the lived experience of mental illness, passionate about upending the current social framework of psychiatry.

Vivienne Shaffer

Viv Shaffer is a representative to the Negley Run Watershed Task Force and serves as an advisor to the Pennsylvania Museums Accessibility Excellence Initiative. She is a former physics teacher and former director of a small museum that was the birthplace and childhood home of the environmental science writer Rachel Carson.

Stormy Sweitzer

Stormy Compeán Sweitzer is a PhD student in the Department of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University. Stormy’s life and career have entailed navigating–and helping others navigate–the risks and possibilities of the unknown in organizational, relational and personal contexts. Today, she is fortunate to make exploring unknowns the center of her work as a researcher, writer, and leadership development consultant.  Originally from Utah, Stormy holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian Language & Literature, a Bachelor of Science in Economics, and an MBA from the University of Utah, as well as a Master of Public Health from Emory University in Atlanta, GA.


Funding for the Science as Story project is provided by The Pittsburgh Foundation.