Not Exactly (Writing) Rocket Science

“Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing” ~ Victor Hugo

This course is designed specifically for students majoring in the natural sciences. In this course, students will write several types of scientific documents common in the natural science disciplines (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Computer Science, etc.), such as grant proposals, science literature reviews, and popular science writing. Improving the clarity of their writing will help students throughout their academic careers, whether or not they ultimately enter scientific fields.

I take my theme for this course–-Not Exactly (Writing) Rocket Science-–from my favorite science writer, Ed Yong, and his blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science.

About our class:



Sarah Boyd Blythe is a Teaching Fellow and doctoral student in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  She holds an M.A. in English from the University of Kansas.  Though a Charles Brocken Brown enthusiast, her research primarily concerns literature, labor, and art in nineteenth-century American culture.  While at UNC, Sarah has taught a number of courses: ENGL 105i: Writing in the Natural Sciences; ENGL 122: Intro to American Literature; as well as ENGL 101 and ENGL 102: first year writing sequence.


Emily Barrus is a hardworking first year student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  She intends to major in Environmental Science because she is passionate about sustainability and interested in learning about the science involved behind it.  In addition, Emily loves UNC athletics and hopes to attend as many sporting events as possible.  Cheddar Group.

Susana Bracewell is a first year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Susana attended Charlotte Catholic High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, along with her fellow classmate, Diana Maxwell Ford. She is undecided in her major and plans to explore the diverse opportunities at UNC. Her hobbies include watching Bravo until her eyes bleed and singing badly.  Ricotta Group

Danny Cao is a 17 year old first-year studying computer science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He holds a high school degree from William G. Enloe High School. Though a programming enthusiast, his interest lies primarily in algorithms and software design. While at UNC, Danny is taking a number of courses: ECON101: Introduction to Economics Principles; ENGL105i: Writing in the Natural Sciences; COMP590: Special Topics in Computer Science (Discrete Structures); ASIA58H: First-Year Seminar-Chasing Madame Butterfly; and HIST107: Medieval History.  Gouda Group

Matthew Chancey is currently a student at UNC Chapel Hill. He plans on majoring in Physics while also taking all the pre-requisites for medical school. He was born in Sacramento, California and he grew up in Leicester, North Carolina. He played varsity football, baseball, and track. He also played club lacrosse and basketball. He is good with numbers and not much else. He was diagnosed with dyslexia in the summer of my senior year.  Feta Group

Thalita Cortes is a psychology (and maybe chemistry) major at UNC Chapel Hill. She is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but has lived in the US for 15 years (including 10 in Charlotte, NC). She hopes to continue her studies and eventually become a psychiatrist. Though she is considering a career in the sciences, she is also very interested in music and languages.  Brie Group

Savanna Fitzgerald is an undergraduate student at UNC Chapel Hill pursuing a degree in the biological sciences. Her focus is on research and development but she pursues zoology on the side. Savanna enjoys painting and can be found nature watching around the Chapel Hill college campus in her free time. Her life aspiration is to either work or be involved with species and habitat conservation.  Ricotta Group

Diana Ford is a first-year student at the greatest university in the world, UNC. She is working towards a double major in Biology and German Studies. She loves Jane Austen, knitting, and tea. She adores music and is interested in Microbiology, Ecology, Genetics, and Epidemiology. She enjoys chilling with her friends and singing with them.  Stilton Group

Hailey Gosnell is a recent graduate from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC (class of 2012). Over the summer, she worked in Bar Harbor, Maine as a research intern at the Jackson Laboratory. She is currently attending UNC Chapel Hill, with the intent of majoring in either Biology or Nutrition, in hopes of pursuing a career in medicine. She is originally from Morehead City, North Carolina, a coastal town that is her favorite place in this world. Two loves in her life (besides family, friends, and a lazy Russian Blue mix named Smokey) are the beach and the field of genetics.  Stilton Group

Apoorva Gupta is a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill and will be majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish and Chemistry. She is from Cary, North Carolina, and she attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Apoorva plans to study medicine and in the future she hopes to become an oncologist. In addition, she wishes to study abroad in Spain for a semester. During her free time, she loves to play piano, sketch, paint, and dance.  Feta Group

Kevin Jang is a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) and is planning on majoring in Computer Science.  He hopes to graduate with good grades and then go on to study at a strong Graduate School.  He is interested in computer technology and enjoys nerdy stuff like fixing computers.  Outside of that, Kevin wants to join the crew team at UNC, and will hopefully be doing so soon.  Kevin also likes to work out at the gym in his free time and currently stays at Ehringhaus dorm.  Gouda Group

Jocelyn Keung is an Environmental Science and Mathematical Decision Science double major at the University of North Carolina. She is a graduate from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. As a Christian, she is passionate about God and is involved with multiple ministries. In her free time, she enjoys playing sports (particularly volleyball), playing guitar, and watching Disney Pixar movies.  Cheddar Group

Matthew Paris is an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill from Durham, NC. He is currently planning to major in Geology and minor in Astronomy. In his free time, Matthew enjoys playing piano/organ and learning about the cosmos. Despite a high school career of being a fully-licensed geek, he finds comfort in the hardy earth, on which all that we know is planted, and amongst the stars.  Cheddar Group.

Katie Reeder plans to be a psychology major at UNC Chapel Hill and is interested in working with children who have developmental delays or learning disabilities. She grew up in Lincolnton, North Carolina and graduated from Lincolnton High School. She enjoys reading on the beach and watching Grey’s Anatomy in her free time.  Brie Group

Tracee Saunders intends to study Biochemistry and Cognitive Science. She hopes to pursue research as an undergraduate in the crossovers of neuroscience, linguistics, and ethics. Although she is originally from Florida, she has lived in Asheville, North Carolina for the last six years. Her favorite pastimes are mountain biking, swimming, and skiing.  Brie Group

Cailey Solomon is a first-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She plans on majoring in Chemistry and pursuing the Pre-med track.  She is from Goldsboro, North Carolina, and is very family-oriented.  She loves to play tennis, but hates having to carry bookbags now that college has started. However, she is very excited to see what these next four years at UNC-CH will turn out to be.  Feta Group

Samantha Wall is a student at the University of North Carolina who is hoping to receive a degree in pharmacy. She is from Greensboro North Carolina and graduated from Southern Guilford High School. She enjoys going to church, singing, and playing tennis. Samantha is a nice and friendly person who hopes to be a friend to everyone.  Stilton Group

Cat Wood is a freshman at UNC-CH. She is hoping to major in Chemistry and possibly double major in Math or Physics. Her long term plan is to be a research scientist in the biomed side of nanotechnology. But for as much as she loves her sciences, she is a bit of a renaissance girl in that she love reading and writing poetry. For the past four years, Cat has lived in England, so her “high school” experience is unique and priceless. She adds a valuable  contribution and flavor to the Chapel Hill community. Ricotta Group

Zimeng (Parker) Xie is an international incoming freshman who is declaring a major in Chemistry. He is also interested in majoring in Computer Science and Japanese. Although a hard-core science lover, he has keen interest in the languages, and he is able to read, write and speak Chinese, Japanese and English. Research-wise, he has research experience in quantitative analysis of water samples from different water bodies, and he worked at a local chemical engineering firm as a paid lab technician for three years.  Gouda Group


Louis Zbinden IV was born and raise in Charlotte, NC. He holds a high school diploma from the prestigious Myers Park High School. He played soccer through high school and even dabbled in rowing as well as cross country. He plans on being a physics major and minoring in cognitive science. He is not sure what to do with a physics major, but would be ecstatic to work with NASA, Virgin Galactic, or other space programs. Louis hopes to study abroad while at Carolina, either in Spain, England, or Australia/New Zealand. Though he lives in the American South, Louis does his best to keep up with English Premier League soccer and other European soccer leagues.  Cheddar Group