New program expands journalism, science opportunities

By Ethan Nash, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture intern

Hausske-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Journalism students will learn and report about challenging environmental topics researched by Ph.D. candidates in a new program at Washington State University. The graduate students will gain exposure for their science and practice explaining it to a general audience.

The deadline to apply for the February-November Backpack Environmental program is Jan. 31. Apply at

“So many of these stories are not being told,” said Lucrezia Cuen Paxson, director of global engagement for WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. “You are providing a service to the community by telling these stories.”

Because environmental science is a growing field in communication, this program will expand students’ job opportunities, she said.

Getting the word out

The program partners communication students with WSU doctoral candidates studying science and the environment.

Journalism students receive a stipend as well as training and mentorship. Their work will be displayed on both the Murrow College and WSU Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach (CEREO) websites. It also may be disseminated to local and national news media and other organizations.

Nitrogen and Mount Rainier

WSU Ph.D. student Justin Pointsatte talks about his research on Mount Rainier with Tonnie Cummings of the National Park Service.

Last year’s pilot program sent two communication students and two Ph.D. candidates to Mount Rainier to conduct research on nitrogen deposition. One of the communication students, Renee Hausske, helped document Ph.D. candidate Justin Pointsatte’s air pollution research at Washington’s largest and most famous peak.

“The parks are a precious resource,” says Pointsatte in a video posted on Hausske’s Youtube page ( Detrimental effects from nitrogen deposition could diminish Mount Rainier’s important resources, he says.



Lucrezia Cuen Paxson, WSU Murrow College, 509-335-8857,