From pedology to mushrooms: Simone Caron wins the Fernand-Seguin scholarship

University of Montreal geography master’s student Simone Caron has been proclaimed the grand winner of the 2022 Fernand-Seguin scholarship competition. This is his article Mushrooms to the Rescue which allowed him to obtain the honors and the first prize, worth $15,000. Starting in September, she will do internships in various media, including a three-month internship at Radio-Canada, another two one-month internships at daily newspapers. The sun and The press as well as one in France in the newspaper The world. She will also be invited to choose one of the host partners of the fellowship, awarded by the Association of Scientific Communicators of Quebec, for a final internship, including Agence Science-Presse, The duty and Quebec science.

Anyone who studies the behavior of heavy metals in forest soils is delighted with these hands-on training opportunities, admitting to having discovered an interest in science journalism a few years ago. “Continuously learning new things, being able to share them creatively, connecting with people and having a positive influence on the world: it’s a dream job!” She explains. Thanks to this prestigious award she has just won, she hopes to acquire the fundamentals of the craft and discover the tips that will help her to write captivating articles. She also wants to learn about audio and video to get an overview of the field of popular science.

An opportunity to solve current problems

For the competition, Simone Caron decided to explore a different subject from her master’s thesis entitled “Biogeochemistry of trace elements in podzols: a comparative study according to the age of forests”. She opted for a presentation on mycoremediation, an emerging technique that allows the depollution of an environment or the treatment of waste thanks to fungi. “Less energy intensive than traditional decontamination methods, this process uses fungi to degrade toxic contaminants into harmless molecules,” she says. Contaminated materials, otherwise destined for landfill or incineration, can thus be reused.

Those who indicate that they started studying biology before turning to geography wanted to take advantage of the platform offered by the Fernand-Seguin scholarship to talk about the environment. “In my view, many contemporary issues are of a scientific nature, but they have solutions of a social nature. A population well informed about these issues is therefore better equipped to deal with them. The same goes for the environmental issue. I’ve noticed that people are much more receptive when the discussion is solution-focused, and that’s what I suggested in my article,” she says. That’s why she sees science journalism as a perfect opportunity to share information that would otherwise be inaccessible. “Science can be perceived as intimidating, even boring, by some. One of the roles of science journalism is to break this barrier and cultivate people’s interest in quality information accessible to all. I look forward to producing professional quality scientific reporting and participating in this knowledge sharing,” she concludes.

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