Spotlight on Metcalf Institute Alumni: Meredith Rutland Bauer

Meredith Bauer headshot 180x180As a child growing up in Florida, Meredith Rutland Bauer slept through hurricanes. But when Hurricane Irma sprinted towards her home state in late August, Bauer panicked.

Both her parents and in-laws live in Florida. As Bauer watched the pace and scale of the approaching storm, she wondered if they would have to evacuate.

“This was a Capital B Big Deal,” said Bauer, a freelance science and technology writer based in San Francisco, and an alumna of Metcalf Institute’s 2017 Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists. “And climate change creates a higher statistical chance of these storms happening.”

Water and climate change are important topics for Bauer, and she’s had the chance to experience them from multiple perspectives. “Maybe I see these issues come to a head more than one might in states with ample water resources,” explained Bauer. California has been going through perennial cycles of drought. It got so bad in 2015, the government rationed showers for some residents.

“The Annual Workshop helped boost my baseline knowledge about climate science,” said Bauer. “I had a good sense of the impacts of climate change before the workshop, but the information I learned [at the Metcalf Workshop] helped me better understand the underlying science behind those impacts.”

“I haven’t been so inundated with knowledge since college,” she added. “I felt that I found another nugget of wisdom every half-hour.”

When Bauer wrote a piece for Audubon on the impact of Federal budget cuts, she was able to tap into the expertise of former EPA administrator Cynthia Giles, a source she first met at Metcalf’s 20th Annual Public Lecture Series, which ran concurrently with the Workshop. “Metcalf was a great experience,” explained Bauer. “It would have taken me a long time to pull all those sources together for the story.”

Another Workshop experience left Bauer reaching for the stars. After hearing David Baron, former NPR science reporter and Metcalf Institute Advisory Board member, discuss his book, American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World, Bauer traveled to Oregon with another Metcalf fellow to take in the total solar eclipse “just for fun, since we are all science nerds and proud of it.” She produced two stories about the event.

A graduate of the University of Florida with a B.S. in Journalism, Bauer began her professional career at the Florida Times-Union covering education, politics, crime and business news. She branched out as a freelance journalist in 2016 with a focus on science, technology and the environment.

That same year, when she applied to Metcalf’s Workshop, Bauer stated, “I initially became interested in environmental and science reporting as a way to shed light on the complexities of our world. Reporting on scientific research became a vehicle through which I could explain technological advances, mysterious diseases and weather phenomena.” She went on to say, “I came to realize that environmental reporters’ jobs are as essential as war reporters in this changing era.”

Looking back on her Metcalf experience, Bauer said it also “made me take a step back and see the world through scientists’ eyes at times, and it can be valuable to walk in someone else’s shoes in that way.”

Another valuable outcome from the Workshop: networking with other journalists from the U.S. and around the globe, which led to new opportunities for collaboration.

“One Fellow connected me with his editor, which turned into a steady reporting opportunity on cyber security within the military,” she said. “Another Fellow contracted with me to write a piece on California climate policy for her publication.”

View more of Meredith’s reporting here.

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