Science Writer

Science Writer

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)

Ashburn, VA, United States

Job Description

HHMI’s Communications team strategizes and executes a wide range of creative work to advance the organization’s mission to drive science forward. Our team is responsible for public relations and internal communications, among other efforts at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, VA. We’re a close-knit, collaborative group that’s committed to continuous development, as individuals and as a team. We focus on delivering outcomes by doing small experiments and continuously adapting to our changing nonprofit environment. We work closely with our scientists, educators, and operations staff.


The Communications team tells Janelia’s story through multiple channels, including: direct outreach to the media; Janelia’s web site,; social media networks; and a range of additional digital content. The Science Writer develops a variety of science-related materials for Janelia’s external and internal channels, including websites, news releases, media pitches, internal newsletter and social media. The Science Writer plays an integral role in the Communications team’s efforts to develop compelling visual and written stories and content that bring HHMI’s mission and work to life, inside and outside the organization.


This position is based at Janelia (Ashburn, VA) with weekly travel to HHMI’s headquarters campus in Chevy Chase, MD.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Report, write, and edit a variety of science-related materials for Janelia’s external and internal needs, including but not limited to websites, news releases, media pitches, internal newsletter, and social media. This role is approximately 80% writing and 20% editing.
  • Translate scientific subject matter into plain language for audiences including our scientific community, other philanthropies and influencers, and HHMI employees. 
  • Establish and maintain relationships with Janelia scientists and staff to help identify and develop stories, information, and shareable content. Attend select scientific meetings or lectures on campus to identify stories, and other potential content. Proactively seek and suggest content ideas.
  • Work with Communications team members to conceptualize graphics and other audio/visual elements that will accompany content, with an eye toward mobile presentation.
  • Work with Janelia scientists, program and operations staff, and Communications team members to review content. Set expectations, establish and meet deadlines, negotiate edits and other changes, and move approved content forward.
  • As needed, directly contribute to Janelia channels through the posting or shaping of content for channel-specific needs, such as email newsletter platforms, web content management systems, social media software, etc.
  • Work with Communications team members to identify, track, and report on data to continually sharpen and improve creative efforts. 
  • As needed, serve as a project manager, ensuring that the work and team are organized, on task, and on schedule while adjusting for any challenges that might arise.
  • Use general knowledge of key people and research at Janelia to help other team members develop content ideas and to provide input on content development efforts across the team.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Required Skills

  • High level of initiative and commitment to understanding the interests and concerns of HHMI’s primary audience of working research scientists.
  • Ability to work well within a distributed team.
  • Ability to exercise independent judgment and decision-making skills.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment, effectively prioritizing and managing multiple projects at once, while setting and meeting deadlines.
  • Ability to handle confidential information with discretion.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with HHMI scientists, grantees, and staff, as well as with colleagues outside the Institute.
  • Basic technical proficiency, or ability to become proficient, in posting and sharing content via software (email platforms, web content management system, social media content management system)

Required Experience

  • Minimum of three (3) years of directly relevant science writing experience in a similar position. Experience writing stories and/or content for a scientific nonprofit, major research university, or academic medical center is highly desired.
  • Demonstrated ability to accurately and colorfully write and edit science-themed content, clarifying and simplifying complicated issues and technical subject matter, with versatility in tone and technique.
  • Experience or degree in Journalism, Communication, English, Literature or a related discipline is a plus.


To be considered for this role, please submit your resume, cover letter and writing samples.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)-hhmi-799-908