Practicum week, or, slaving away in the science factories

Testing what polymers came out of the experiment with Emily Pentzer

So, I spent the last week working on a practicum assignment, which was basically to hang out with some scientists, and watch and learn what the day-to-day work looks like in the universe of nanotechnology.  Luckily, Northwestern University has one of the most advanced nanotech facilities in the nation, and I was lucky enough to get to spend the week with researchers there.

First of all, I should say that the entire experience was a made much more pleasant and practical by Denise Dooley, the outreach coordinator for the International Institute for Nanotechnology. She helped set up various meetings with scientists at the Institute, and arranged for me to observe several experiments by their researchers. She was quite helpful and very courteous through the entire experience, and I owe her a big thanks.

Want to know the gory details?  Hit the jump for more:

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‘Coworking’ offers new freedom to freelancers

Forget the cubicle, get off the couch, and ditch the coffee shop. Freelance technology workers these days have a new way to get things done –coworking (enthusiasts insist there is no hyphen). A new coworking space, opened in January, aims to provide Chicago’s independent workers with a different kind of occupational environment. The COOP is … Read more

Chicago entrepreneur wants to change the way you watch TV

Joe Born wants to change the way you use your television. Born, chief executive officer, of Neuros Technology International, is an entrepreneur in the classic sense. He got his start in the 1990s with a patent on a device for repairing damaged CDs. Then in 2001, he started Chicago-based Neuros Technologies, which started out making portable digital … Read more

Genetically engineered virus creates a better battery

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have successfully demonstrated a technique for fabricating a better battery using a genetically engineered virus. They announced their technique for the battery earlier this month, maintaining that it allows them to use a much wider variety of materials for potentially higher-capacity, rechargeable batteries. The interdisciplinary team of MIT scientists … Read more

New quarter, new beat

Starting today until the beginning of June, I’m working on Health/Science reporting. My beat is Technology/Gadgets/Nanotech. If you should happen to have any good tips on these subjects, please please contact me and clue me in (ian at I finally have a beat that I can write about with some kind of clarity, so … Read more

Getting help with the work of finding work

[flashvideo file=”flash_video/UnemploymentSeminar.flv” /] This is the first video that I’ve turned in for Northwestern that hasn’t been completely terrible.  It’s a story about a group in Chicago that provides support services for the unemployed to assist in their job search called the Career Transitions Center.

Lawrence Lessig at the Kellogg School of Management

Yesterday, Lawrence Lessig spoke at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. Lessig is like the Elvis Presley of the nerd universe; a rock star of the highest order. I don’t need to run down his resume… if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard of Lessig before.  You probably know that we have him … Read more

Want to know the main problem with trying to do grad-school journalism?

Here’s the thing — journalism is transactional.  You rely on other people to feed you information that you can use to write your stories.  In exchange, your sources get to draw attention to the things that they think are important. For instance, if you’re writing an article about a new business, you contact the business … Read more

I’m hurting for story ideas

I guess today it’s going to be back to the Land of Bridgeport. I’ve only got three story ideas so far, and that just ain’t going to fly when I need to be turning in three stories a week. I’m going to go down to to the South Side again today, and see if I … Read more