I want to earn $1,000, to get published, and to have something impressive to put on my résumé. Where can I get this?

The GRUNDY HAVEN of course! Each year our college fosters excellence in writing by sponsoring a paper competition that gives you a chance to adapt a paper you’ve written for an academic setting, or perhaps for a conference–or maybe one that you began from scratch just because you were interested in the topic–to a nontechnical audience.

Last year’s winners wrote about geothermal systems, natrocarbonatite volcanoes, snow predictions, Martian life, and urban agriculture. Even thought the topics were diverse, each contestant sought to take the technical aspects of his/her research and knowledge and explain it to a broader audience. You can read their winning entries on our EMS website.

As a scientist you will need to be able to communicate science to nonscientists without compromising the quality of your information. Knowing how to adapt your writing to various audiences is an important skill to develop while you’re an undergraduate. Considerations of what to include, the level of detail, vocabulary, tone, visuals, organizational structure, citation styles, and readability all come into play when you want to explain science in a non-technical manner. Using analogies that are familiar to your audience to illustrate difficult concepts is a winning strategy too. Incorporating a lively style through vivid word choice and sentence variety helps improve your audience’s engagement with your prose. This is hard work and takes lots of practice!

You can start practicing these important skills now, and I’ll help guide you. The deadline for submissions is February 15. Find out more by reading the guidelines. And, make an appointment; we’ll talk about how you can earn money and improve your writing in one fell swoop, as Shakespeare would say.

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