Meet the Newest TON/BWF Fellows, Rodrigo Pérez Ortega and Rachel Zamzow

Rodrigo Pérez Ortega and Rachel Zamzow
Rodrigo Pérez Ortega and Rachel Zamzow, the newest TON/BWF early-career fellows. Courtesy of Rodrigo Pérez Ortega and Rachel Zamzow


The Open Notebook is excited to introduce the latest recipients of our fellowship for early-career science journalists, made possible by a generous grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

bwfWe received more than 50 applications for next year’s two fellowships, and narrowing our selections down to just two was, as always, excruciating. We’re delighted to offer the fellowship to Rodrigo Pérez Ortega and Rachel Zamzow, whose creative ideas and aspirations we found inspiring and whose work we’re confident will greatly enrich TON‘s offerings. They’ll be joining a group of talented writers who, through their fellowships, have published stories at TON on topics such as conducting data journalism, writing headlines, reporting from the field, and transitioning from science to science writing, including diverse voices in science stories, reporting on risk, and more. Collectively, their work has been viewed by more than 30,000 people. Numerous of their stories are among TON’s top 20 most-viewed stories.

The science writing community will get to know Rodrigo and Rachel in the coming months, but for now, here’s a little bit about each of them:

Rodrigo, whose fellowship will begin in January, is a freelance science writer from Mexico City. He’s passionate about neuroscience and health journalism, and for the past couple of years, he has been a contributor at TecReview, Medscape en Español, ¿Cómo ves?, and others. His work has been published in English and Spanish, and he works continuously to raise awareness about science and science journalism in Latin America. Follow him on Twitter @rpocisv.

Rachel, whose fellowship will begin next summer, is a freelance science writer based in Waco, Texas. The brain is what makes her tick, so most of her stories have a psychology or neuroscience slant. But she’s always interested in anything new and exciting science has to offer. She’s written for a variety of publications, including the award-winning autism research news site Spectrum and The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she was a 2014 AAAS Mass Media Fellow. She tweets @RachelZamzow.

Two top-notch journalists have enthusiastically agreed to serve as Rodrigo and Rachel’s mentors and editors:

Helen Fields Picasa

Helen Fields will be Rodrigo’s mentor. She is a science writer based in Washington, DC. She started her career at magazines (U.S. News & World Report, National Geographic), where she got lots of writing experience and fantastic mentoring. She has used those magazine skills as a freelancer for outlets such as Smithsonian and Discover. Now she works for a contractor, writing everything from tweets to meeting  summaries to feature stories for various government health agencies. She is one of the People of The Last Word on Nothing. Follow her on Twitter @helenfields.

Laura Beil
Laura Beil Toni Parvin

Laura Beil, who will be Rachel’s mentor, is a freelance journalist from Texas. She won a 2014 Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism for “What’s Wrong With Robotic Surgery?” and has received the top reporting and writing awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. In 2015, she was National Magazine Award finalist. Her work appears in Men’s Health, The New York Times, Science News, and Cosmopolitan, and she was the writer/reporter for the “Thugs” episode on the NPR series This American Life. Follow her on Twitter @LJBeil.

We’re thrilled to welcome these talented people to the TON/BWF community!

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