As an integral member of the Communications team, the Science Writer researches, writes, edits, and proofs content that communicates the research and mission of the Salk Institute, with a special emphasis on ensuring scientific discoveries are accessible to lay audiences.
Under the direction of the Manager, Scientific Communications, and along with other writers, the Science Writer develops a range of public-facing content for the Institute, including but not limited to: press releases, Inside Salk magazine articles, newsletters, tip sheets, talking points, interview questions, a science guide, infographics, web content, print brochures, fundraising and event materials, and other science-related collateral.
The Science Writer must be an excellent writer, editor, and communicator, and strategic thinker. They must be able to develop compelling story ideas from technical scientific papers, meet deadlines, and enjoy working on a fast-paced team that manages a high volume of projects. They must be able to work with scientists, faculty, leadership, development, and other staff.
The Salk Institute is located in La Jolla, Calif. This position may be fully in person, fully remote, or hybrid, as desired.
Scientific Writing (80%)
- Writes compelling, scientifically accurate and journalistically strong copy, translating complex scientific jargon into news and feature articles for internal and external publications intended for a wide variety of lay audiences, including the public, media, donors, and other stakeholders.
- Works directly with scientists and other stakeholders to collect information and ensure accuracy. Ensures that final drafts are approved by scientists and department staff and maintain stylistic consistency.
- Helps develop strategies to develop and brand the Salk message throughout all publications.
- Storyboards and assists with videos, presentations, and other multimedia related to scientific research and initiatives.
- Works with the digital team to facilitate processes for timely publication of content on websites and through eblasts.
Editing and Proofing Salk Communications (10%)
- Edits, reviews, and rewrites various types of content created by other departments for a wider audience to ensure high quality and grammatical correctness.
- Copyedits material—including but not limited to internal print and electronic content, executive communications, content from other departments, and other publications—for spelling, grammar, style, accuracy, and consistency according to Institute style.
- Communicates with content creators and project leads to resolve inconsistencies in content and /or style.
- Helps update and maintain the Salk Style Guide.
Multimedia and Presentations (10%)
- Identifies appropriate photography, science images, and graphics for press releases and other publications.
- Assists with content development, planning, and interviews for Salk’s award-winning podcast, Where Cures Begin.
- In conjunction with video and AV staff, scripts scientific video shoots and animated videos.
- Assists faculty and administration with talking points and speeches for fundraising events, media interviews, or other events.
- Assists with internal and external special event support and media relations as needed and as other priorities allow (if not a fully remote employee).
- 2+ years of experience writing about molecular/cell biology, neuroscience, or related life science topics for a general audience, based on reading primary research papers and interviewing scientists.
- Prior experience in a larger (500+) non-profit organization
- Experience with a wide array of writing assignments including brochures, newsletters, website copy, speeches, news releases, special events programs, scripts, and promotional copy.
- Technical expertise in one scientific field (e.g., cancer, molecular biology, biology, chemistry, etc.).
- Bachelor’s degree in journalism, public relations, communications, or biological sciences; or equivalent combination of education and experience.
- Master’s degree in science journalism, communications, biological sciences, or related field.
SKILLS AND ABILITIES
- Availability during the Communications Office’s core working hours, roughly 7:30am – 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time. While often flexible, the Science Writer must be responsive to emails, Slack, and Asana messages during that time. (While most standard requests should be responded to within the hour, some will require immediate response.)
- Demonstrated mastery of the English language and strong communication skills, including composition (spelling and grammar), editing, and proofreading.
- Demonstrated ability to translate complex scientific concepts accurately and engagingly to non-scientific audiences.
- Basic knowledge of the scientific publication process, including submission, review, and acceptance.
- Ability to write, edit, and proofread scientific news releases and/or news stories.
- Ability to discuss and interview on scientific topics and ask probing questions regarding scientific research.
- Exceptional interpersonal skills to communicate in a positive, inclusive, and effective manner with diverse and demanding clientele, using a high degree of tact, diplomacy, and discretion, with emphasis on flexibility and professionalism.
- Excellent organizational skills with ability to prioritize daily operations to meet rigid deadlines, ensure smooth workflow, and manage multiple projects simultaneously, often working under pressure with frequent interruptions.
- Demonstrated ability to work in a collaborative team environment.
- Ability to be goal-oriented, self-motivated, reliable, detail-oriented, articulate, and poised; and to possess personal integrity and sound judgment.
- Ability to bring creativity and innovation to communication efforts.
- Ability to ensure confidentiality of information and sensitive documents by following operational procedures and exercising judgement in responding to requests.
- Fluency in Microsoft Office Suite, especially Word and Outlook.
- Ability to select photographs, drawings, sketches, diagrams, and charts to illustrate material.
- Knowledge of AP and Chicago Manual of Style writing styles.
- Knowledge of project management software programs (e.g., Asana).
SPECIAL CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
- Legally authorized to work in the US without visa sponsorship.
- Willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
- Will require occasional evenings and weekends to assist with events (if not working fully remote)
- Satisfactory completion of the Institute’s background investigation.
- Willing to sign an employee confidentiality agreement.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS/MENTAL ACTIVITIES/ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
The incumbent in this position will be constantly adjusting focus, grasping, hearing, keying, seeing, sitting, talking, analyzing, communicating, reading, reasoning, writing, and working indoors.
Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities
The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)