Newswise — Recognizing the importance of great science journalism, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Felsten Fishman Family Foundation are funding new fellowships for students in the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Five Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellowships will be awarded over the next three years. Each fellow will receive a full tuition scholarship plus an expense stipend for the entire 16-month SHERP sequence, which ends in the conferral of a master’s degree.

In addition, 10 Felsten Fishman Family Foundation fellowships will be awarded over the next 10 years, each covering tuition and an expense stipend for one semester. 

Combined, the two fellowship programs, supporting 15 fellows, will be worth more than $1 million—a total that includes funding from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. 

“In a world where evidence-based research is competing against fake news, now more than ever we feel it is critical to support science journalism, and it is our honor to do so,” says Fred Mann, vice president of communications at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

SHERP is directed by NYU Professor of Journalism Dan Fagin, who won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for his best-selling book, Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation (Bantam).

“We are very excited and proud to partner with Dan Fagin and NYU’s SHERP program, particularly at a time when the need for passionate, fact-based science and health focused journalism is so crucial,” adds David J. Fishman, a principal of the Felsten Fishman Family Foundation.

The first fellowships were awarded this April for students who will begin SHERP in September 2018.

Marion Renault will be the first Robert Wood Johnson fellow at SHERP. Currently a science and environmental reporter at the Columbus Dispatch, she grew up Rochester, Minnesota, and is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she majored in journalism and Spanish and was the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Minnesota Daily. She also completed internships at the Chicago Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Jessica Romeo will be the first Felsten Fishman fellow at NYU-SHERP. Currently an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in rural Vermont, she grew up in Washington Township, New Jersey and is a summa cum laude graduate of Fairfield University, where she majored in English and biology and was the editor-in-chief of the campus literary magazine, The Inkwell. She has done biology field work in Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand and is a certified Emergency Medical Technician.

“We’re so grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and to the Felsten Fishman Family Foundation for their generous investments in the future of science journalism,” says Fagin. “Journalism faces many challenges today and so does science, but Marion, Jessica, and their SHERP classmates are idealists who believe that telling true stories about science to mass audiences can make the world a better place. These new fellowships are wonderful affirmations that they’re on the right track.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, New Jersey, is the largest philanthropy in the United States focused solely on health. Its chief executive is Dr. Richard Besser, former medical editor for ABC News and former acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The foundation is also a supporter of NYU’s Science Communication Workshops, in which science and medical students and faculty learn to write effectively about research for lay audiences.

The Felsten Fishman Family Foundation is based in Westchester County, New York and is led by the husband-and-wife team of Nancy Felsten and David J. Fishman. Felsten is a media lawyer and partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Fishman is a media investor and former chief executive of TV Guide, as well as a 1989 graduate of what was then known as the Science and Environmental Reporting Program at NYU.

The Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University is one of the world’s oldest and best-regarded science journalism training programs. Founded in 1982, its 429 graduates work for leading media outlets in the United States and more than 20 other countries.

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