About SWI

While facilitating a semester-long writing workshop with engineering graduate students, The STEM Writing Institute (SWI) founder Kelly Scarff discovered that many students were struggling to find the writing instruction and support they needed for the various documents they found themselves required to produce. Having spent time in the creative writing field, Kelly knew there were plenty of writing workshop options for genres like fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Surely, there were STEM writing workshops as well, right? After much research and frustration, she had to admit that her assumption was wrong; the options for writing workshops for burgeoning STEM professionals were sorely lacking. It was from this experience that Kelly decided to create The STEM Writing Institute so she could offer writing support to STEM graduate students and professionals.

Writing is often viewed as separate from STEM, but the truth is that writing is an integral part of STEM, and it must be regarded as such if you want your research, and credibility, to thrive. Writing is not something you tack on at the end of a lab experiment or a product design; rather, writing is part of the entire process, from start to finish (or from cradle-to-grave, as some engineers may say). At The STEM Writing Institute, participants are provided with concrete writing instruction that they can apply to their own writing, time to practice the writing lessons on sample text, and, in the in-person workshops, one-on-one feedback on a piece of their writing and a polished draft that is ready for final copy editing and publication.

SWI Mission

SWI’s mission is simple: we want to help burgeoning STEM professionals find their voice, improve their communication skills through clear and concise writing, and gain confidence in their writing abilities.

SWI’s Founder

Dr. Kelly Scarff is the founder and CEO of The STEM Writing Institute (SWI). SWI offers virtual and in-person writing-intensive workshops for STEM graduate students, faculty, and professionals. During the academic year, Dr. Scarff is a Collegiate Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech where she teaches engineering communication courses and directs the Technical Communication Program in the department of Mechanical Engineering.

Dr. Scarff has over a decade of experience in STEM communication. Prior to her role at Virginia Tech, she was a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy where she worked as a technical editor and quality assurance technician on all energy-related deliverables, including technical reports, white papers, proposals, and literature reviews. She also taught professional development and research-writing courses to materials science and engineering students; provided technical editing and writing consultation for engineering faculty and graduate students; and taught various courses in Professional and Technical Writing, including Science Writing, Technical Writing, and Technical Editing & Style.

Dr. Scarff holds a PhD in Rhetoric & Writing from Virginia Tech, an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University, a BA in English from University of Pittsburgh, and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate from the University of Toronto.