In Our Spotlight
CAFE Summer Scholars Prepares Students for Stellar Careers
In the summer of 2022, senior Journalism and Spanish major Olivia Capriotti was one of 41 CAFE Summer Scholars who had an internship conducting scientific research. Olivia focused specifically on cranberry bogs and fruit rot. After taking classes in the College of Natural Sciences in addition to journalism courses and writing for the Daily Collegian, she realized she wanted to be a science reporter. Her internship with CAFE Summer Scholars helped her to further develop her research and communication skills.
Olivia has many interests: writing, reporting, scientific research, Spanish, and agriculture. She is a curious and dedicated student, especially passionate about creating sustainable food systems. As someone interested in farming and sustainability, an internship with CAFE Summer Scholars was a perfect opportunity. Her cranberry research will further enhance her ability as a science journalist.
Her research project was titled “Understanding Microclimatic Factors of Cranberry Bogs to Improve Fruit Quality.” With the help of Extension Assistant Professor Dr. Leela Uppala, Olivia traveled across the state to collect samples from various bogs, looking to find potential solutions to cranberry fruit rot often caused by hot, humid weather—a problem that is expected to increase as the climate warms. Her research aimed to increase production while minimizing fruit rot, promoting the sustainability and economic viability of cranberry bogs.
Olivia especially enjoyed taking what she had learned in her classes and applying it to hands-on research. However, she said the best aspect of Summer Scholars was the support she received. “We not only had help coordinating our own research projects, but we also had career development opportunities,” she explained. The program held career development sessions throughout the summer. Summer Scholars also receive help with their research presentations before the Fall Poster Symposium, where undergraduates present their findings to the campus community and celebrate their accomplishments.
She is sure that this experience with CAFE Summer Scholars will set her apart from other aspiring science reporters. In order to be effective science reporters, writers need to be able to report information correctly, clearly, and succinctly. Olivia now has an understanding of what researchers do and a deep knowledge of the science behind the issues she wants to report on, preparing her to be an exceptional reporter.
This summer, she applied the knowledge she gained to multiple internships, as a Public Policy Research Intern for the Rhode Island Food Policy Council and the Online News Association as a Science and Data journalist before returning to UMass for her senior year. Once she graduates this spring, she hopes to use her skills in data analysis, scientific writing, and communicating research to report on sustainability and food systems.