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Jan 30, 2015 06:45 PM EST

Washington State University to Expand Journalism, Science Opportunities

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Washington State University is in the process of expanding journalism and science opportunities, school officials announced.

The February-November Backpack Environmental program will give journalism students the opportunity to learn and report about challenging environmental topics researched by Ph.D. candidates. The graduate students will gain exposure for their science and practice explaining it to a general audience.

"So many of these stories are not being told," Lucrezia Cuen Paxson, director of global engagement for WSU's Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, said in a statement. "You are providing a service to the community by telling these stories."

Because environmental science is a growing field in communication, this program will expand students' job opportunities, Paxson said.

The program partners communication students with Washington State University doctoral candidates studying science and the environment.

As part of the program, journalism students receive a stipend as well as training and mentorship. Their work will be displayed on both the Murrow College and WSU Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach (CEREO) websites. It also may be disseminated to local and national news media and other organizations.

According to school officials, last year's pilot program sent two communication students and two Ph.D. candidates to Mount Rainier to conduct research on nitrogen deposition. One of the communication students helped document Ph.D. candidate Justin Pointsatte's air pollution research at Washington's largest and most famous peak.

The deadline to apply for the February-November Backpack Environmental program is Jan. 31.

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