For new Stanford graduates with a PhD in electrical engineering, their next move could be working as a researcher in an industrial lab, joining a Silicon Valley tech startup or, for new grad Irena Fischer-Hwang, learning to become a journalist.
Fischer-Hwang, who will receive her doctorate in electrical engineering this weekend, is coming back to the Farm in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in the Communication Department’s journalism program.
Fischer-Hwang said she realized early in her graduate studies that it was important to communicate science to wider audiences.
“There’s an unexpected side to science that is really fun to communicate to people,” Fischer-Hwang said. “I think if we can make science more approachable, it could really help people understand why scientists do what they do.”
Little did she realize that her earlier interest in science communication would lead her to a new career path.
Fischer-Hwang’s first foray into storytelling was through Goggles Optional, a humorous science podcast written, produced and hosted by Stanford graduate students. For the past two years, Fischer-Hwang has written and hosted dozens of episodes of the show, including one about lucid dreaming and another about how sound can hack smartphones.
“In academic science, not a lot of people will be able to understand what you are working on,” Fischer-Hwang said. “But the whole goal of journalism is to take difficult concepts and explain them to the public in interesting ways.”
Fischer-Hwang’s doctoral adviser, electrical engineering Professor Tsachy Weissman, was so impressed by her journalistic leanings that he asked her to help him launch a podcast about his own field of expertise, information theory. Fischer-Hwang produced the pilot episode of the series and then trained 14 students in the new freshman seminar EE25N: The Science of Information to write scripts and edit audio so they can continue producing the series.
> Read the full story on the Stanford News Service website.