HMJ students awarded NAKFI science writing fellowship

Two students in the Grady College Health and Medical Journalism graduate program won science writing fellowships that will take them to California and Washington, D.C.

Lindsey Johnston and Christopher McGee were selected to attend the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) at the Academies’ Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, Calif. on Nov. 13-15, 2014.

“This is a honor for Lindsey and Chris and for Grady,” said Patricia Thomas, director of the health and medical journalism program. “In California, they’ll meet with experts probing connections among disciplines as varied as molecular biology and social science.”

The students will also attend the National Academies Communication Awards Ceremony in Washington where they’ll meet journalists as well as leaders in science and government, said Thomas, a professor and Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism.

Both Johnston and McGee are first-year graduate students at UGA.

Johnston earned her undergraduate degree in English writing and publication studies and communication studies at Clemson University. As an undergraduate, she wrote stories about the social and biological dimensions of health for Glimpse, Clemson’s creative inquiry publication. One focused on the dangers of untreated concussions in young athletes and how Clemson is addressing this through youth education. She studied abroad in England, Belgium and India where she conducted field studies and wrote journal entries about communication behaviors in all three settings. Johnston wants to learn more about the interconnectedness of anthropology and health.

McGee graduated Cum Laude from Georgia State University with a B.A. in film and video, and a minor in English. As an undergraduate, he mentored and tutored disadvantaged Latino youth through the CEISMC program sponsored by The Georgia Institute of Technology. His experiences working with these students sparked his interests in researching and reporting on social determinants of health in low-income communities. McGee is very interested in writing about mechanisms that explain societal behavior.

The title for this year’s NAKFI conference is Collective Behavior: From Cells to Societies. The conference will include active researchers, representatives of public and private funding organizations, university and government leadership, and science journals to stimulate conversations about funding, communicating and supporting interdisciplinary research.

Johnston and McGee are also invited to The National Academies Communication Awards ceremony that will take place on Oct. 15, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Date: September 23, 2014
Author:  Katelyn Lewis,
Contact:  Patricia Thomas,