Highlights from the March meeting of the SANDSWA Social Justice in Science Writing club

By Monica May

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Whether you are navigating getting a COVID-19 vaccine, helping children return to school or determining if you should go back to the office in person, we know this is a busy time. 

In an effort to share insights with club members who weren’t able to make it to the March meeting of the SANDSWA Social Justice in Science Writing Club, here are highlights of our discussion that may be helpful.

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Dr. Jenni Brandon: Microplastics Pioneer and Ocean Advocate

By Nicole Woolcock

A curious, shining object glimmers through the tentacle-like arms of a knotted pile of kelp along the beach. Upon further inspection of the object, a pang of sadness dims the original excitement of coming across an interesting beach find. This is not a dazzling sea treasure but a piece of discarded trash. 

“Often the plastic you pick up on the beach is something you’ve used and thrown away without thinking about it,” says Dr. Jenni Brandon, biological oceanographer and microplastics expert at Applied Ocean Sciences, “so you feel personally guilty for the problem.” She explains that microplastics—tiny pieces of plastic often undetected by the human eye—are found everywhere, including our oceans, food sources, wind, and sediment. This means we are ingesting microplastics every day.

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SANDSWA Racial Justice Statement

The board of the San Diego Science Writers Association (SANDSWA) condemns violence and racism, and we are angered by the increase in hate crimes across our country targeting communities of color.

In the past year, there have been 3,800 reported anti-Asian racist incidents — only a fraction of the incidents that actually occur due to underreporting — and women comprised 68% of those reports. On March 16, mass shootings at three different businesses in the Atlanta, Georgia area left eight people dead, six of whom were women of Asian descent. These women were Hyun Jung Grant, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park and Yong Ae Yue. Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels were also killed in the attacks. 

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3 Easy Ways to Find Diverse Sources for Your Stories (or Press Releases)

By Monica May

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Many of us want to include more people who are underrepresented in science in our stories, but may not know where to begin. 

To help this process become easier—and hopefully at some point second nature—SANDSWA’s Social Justice in Science Writing club recently read the Open Notebook piece “Finding Diverse Sources for Science Stories” and brainstormed ways to incorporate these ideas into our daily work. 

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SANDSWA book club recap: The Perfect Predator by Steffanie Strathdee

By Deborah Bright

My husband found out he had cancer for the third time at the age of 25. I didn’t know him then, and I’ll be forever grateful to the team of doctors at the Mayo Clinic for saving his life. But even though he’s been cancer-free for five years now, he still wakes up with debilitating stomach pain most mornings. It’s left him unable to work and constantly searching for a sense of purpose. I often find myself wishing I could cure him. The Perfect Predator by Steffanie Strathdee inspired me to try. 

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