Two UGA graduate students selected to participate in annual NAKFI conference

Second-year Health and Medical Journalism graduate students Sydney Devine and Lauren Schumacker have been selected as two out of twelve science writing fellows for this year’s National Academies of Science Keck Futures Initiative conference in Irvine, California. This marks the 10th consecutive year that at least one University of Georgia student has been selected to participate in this elite meeting.

The title for this year’s conference is Art and Science, Engineering, and Medicine Frontier Collaborations: Ideation, Translation & Realization. The conference will be held at the Academies’ Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center. All of the fellows’ expenses are covered and they will each have the opportunity to network with professionals from all over the country.

“Meeting these professionals and experts is always useful for my future career,” said Devine. “I will also be working with a select team while attending the conference. I'm excited to work together with science and health professionals. The challenge will be a great learning experience for me.”

Devine has a B.A. in English with a concentration in language and literature from Valdosta State University.  Her interest in health stems from her parents, who both have careers in the medical field. Sydney also holds a graduate assistantship at the UGA Public Affairs News Service and is a research reporter for the university and for Columns, the faculty and staff newspaper.  

Schumacker graduated with a B. S. in occupational science, a minor in history and a certificate in interprofessional education from Saint Louis University. Schumacker also holds a certificate in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago and has worked for a Chicago based nonprofit organization called Purple Asparagus. She is passionate about increasing food literacy and education, particularly in urban environments.

“I'm looking forward to discussing and learning more about the interaction between the arts, science, engineering and medicine as well as meeting people with a wide variety of interests and experiences from each of these fields,” said Schumacker.

The NAKFI Conference, Nov. 12-14, will bring together a diverse group of 120 participants to:

– Explore how arts, design, sciences, engineering, and medicine can stimulate a renaissance of innovation that solves real world problems;

– Discover how collaborations can engage the public and other scientists and encourage discourse in important issues;

– Examine how creative disruption and aesthetic experience engage the human mind to stimulate creativity and innovation;

– Create concrete projects that can (and ultimately do) lead to at least one of four kinds of impact – educational, cultural, social and scientific.

The conference will address these goals by organizing small, diverse groups of creative practitioners to grapple with real challenges and to explore how the humanities, medicine, technology, and sciences might engage in solving real world problems. 

“It's always an honor when our HMJ students are chosen as science writing fellows for the NAKFI conference, which is an annual think-tank for leading scholars and scientists,” said Patricia Thomas, a journalism professor and the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism at Grady.

“Not only will Sydney and Lauren learn amazing things, but they'll work side-by-side with grad students and their work will be published by the National Academies of Science and Engineering.”

Date: September 18, 2015
Author:  Glenda Dowdy,