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Bruce V. Bigelow Memorial Science Communication Fellowship at UC San Diego

Bruce BigelowOverview

The UC San Diego Health Marketing and Communications Department offers an on-site, full-time, paid, 12-month science communication fellowship program.

The program is named in memory of Bruce V. Bigelow, an award-winning science and technology journalist. Bruce was part of the San Diego Union-Tribune team that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and served as San Diego editor for Xconomy, a national life science and innovation news site. Bruce died in June 2018 after a brief illness he contracted while hiking in Utah.


Fellows are exposed to a range of topics and communications platforms, and produce a variety of written and visual content, including feature articles, press releases, blog posts, social media content, traditional media outreach, videos and podcasts. Research and clinical topics covered vary widely across UC San Diego Health Sciences, which includes UC San Diego Health, School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science.

The 2022-2023 fellowship is on hold. The fellowship will resume for 2023-24. More details will become available closer to the application period. See below. In the meantime, interested persons are invited to send resumes or CVs to Scott LaFee at They will be kept on file for reference.

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2023-2024 Timeline

  • January 2023: Open for applications
  • February 2023: Application window closes
  • March 2023: Interview candidates
  • April 2023: Inform chosen candidate
  • July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024: Fellowship term

Check back in January 2023 for updates about the 2023-2024 term.

Applicant requirements

  • Actively pursuing a career in science writing/communication
  • Bachelor's degree in related area and / or equivalent experience / training
  • Two (2) or more years of relevant experience
  • Experience and proven success in concepts and principles of news, media communications and media relations
  • Must have an established ability to work in the U.S.
  • Must have reliable transportation available in San Diego

Preferred qualifications:

  • Advanced degree (e.g., MA, MS, PhD) in a STEM field, communications, journalism or related area
  • Ability to work with multiple groups on multiple projects simultaneously
  • Time management and organizational skills
  • Self-motivated to seek out new projects
  • Professional conduct in interactions with internal and external stakeholders
  • Demonstrated interest in issues of equity, diversity and inclusion


Fellows will receive a $80,000 stipend and benefits for the 12 months of their tenure. Relocation expenses are not covered.


Scott LaFee
Director of Communications and Media Relations


Current Fellow

Nicole Mlynaryk

Nicole Mlynaryk is the 2021-2022 Bruce Bigelow Memorial Science Communication Fellow. Nicole earned her bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University and her master’s degree in neurosciences at UC San Diego, studying how brain cells guide decision-making. During graduate school she also worked as a writing consultant at the UC San Diego Writing Hub and served as chair of her graduate program’s Career Development Committee and member of the Diversity Committee.

Nicole’s experience communicating with non-experts about health science topics includes: excelling in the Science Writing I course at UC San Diego Extension, writing for the blog NeuWrite-San Diego, founding the site, teaching with UC San Diego’s Academic Connections program, volunteering with the Neuroscience Outreach Program, and helping to organize panels for the graduate student science communication event ComSciCon-San Diego.

In her spare time, Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, comedy, live music and watching history documentaries.


Fellowship Alumni

Alison (Alie) Caldwell

Alison (Alie) Caldwell, PhD, 2019-2020 Bigelow Fellow. Alie received her BS from MIT in 2011 and her PhD in Neurosciences from UC San Diego in 2019, where she worked with Nicola Allen, PhD, at the Salk Institute to study the roles of brain cells called astrocytes in the growth and development of the brain.

When she wasn't in the lab, Alie worked to develop new educational resources, creating science videos and supporting efforts to provide science communication training to early career researchers. She is the co-creator, writer and co-host of Neuro Transmissions, an award-winning YouTube channel all about the brain, and has written 50 scripts for the YouTube channel SciShow, reaching an audience of more than 5 million subscribers with daily videos on topics from "Life Inside a Dead Whale" to "Your Microbiome and Your Brain." She was the Program Organizing Chair for ComSciCon 2018, responsible for coordinating panels and hands-on exercises at this national workshop aimed at providing STEM graduate students with the tools and resources they need to communicate their science effectively across a wide variety of arenas and platforms.

The 2019-2020 fellowship focused on interdisciplinary research, and Alie rotated with the communications offices at UC San Diego Health, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Jacobs School of Engineering.

Alie's featured fellowship work included: