Student reporter Edwin Oullette documents the research of urban foresters in downtown Portland.

The Science Stories initiative brings student journalists together with Northwest scientists to create credible, accessible stories about research made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Graduate and undergraduate journalists from the University of Oregon research and report stories over various ten week courses offered by the School of Journalism and Communication. Reporters work in teams to produce multimedia packages based on cutting-edge research into climate change, wildland fire and urban forestry. The goal of the collaboration is to introduce students to the challenges and techniques of science reporting by spending time in the field with ecologists, field biologists and social scientists. The resulting web-based stories will help to connect research findings with communities and current issues across the Pacific Northwest.

The initiative comes out of a unique funding partnership between the School of Journalism and Communication and the Pacific Northwest Research Station, and is partially supported by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Science Stories initiative is led by Professor Mark Blaine who teaches writing, multimedia storytelling and interactive media at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. In the last four years he has been working to update the curriculum of the j-school to adapt to ever changing platforms and business models of the media industry. He’s rewritten the introductory courses in the school and have incorporated multimedia, multiplatform storytelling in many courses across the curriculum. He is particularly interested in ways of teaching information design and storytelling in a networked environment.

Before coming to the University of Oregon, Mark was the editor of Forest Magazine, a national environmental print and web magazine that covered public land issues in the United States. Prior to that, he was an investigative reporter and night city editor at the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times. He is also the author of one book, Whitewater: The Thrill and Skill of Running the World’s Great Rivers (2001. Black Dog and Leventhal, New York). Mark has another book forthcoming about basic skills for media writers and producers in an interactive environment.

Mark is assisted by Amanda Peacher, a narrative journalist who freelances for High Country News, the Bear Deluxe, and other regional and national outlets. In June 2011, she will hold an MA in journalism and an MS in environmental studies from the University of Oregon. Currently a graduate teaching fellow, she has designed and taught two distinct undergraduate courses, including a summer field course called “American Wilderness.” In her free time, Amanda enjoys backpacking, biking, and baking sweets.

Science stories web developer Ryan Stasel is the Systems Administrator for the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism. Born and raised in the Portland, Oregon metro area, he came to Eugene for his undergraduate degree in Political Science, with a chemistry minor. While that may seems like an odd mix, he grew up in a very politically opinionated family, and has been fascinated with chemistry since his childhood. Ryan started at Central IS in 2000 doing general support for students, staff, and faculty. He moved to the School of Journalism in 2004, and was hired as Systems Administrator in 2006. He’s been using and supporting computers for most of his life.

Outside of work he spends a lot of time on the computer, and doing much of the same stuff he does at work. His personal site, www.staze.org, is devoted to his work, energy efficiency, and other random bits of information that come spilling out of his head.