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2015-2016 Knight Science Journalism Fellows hail from U.S., Argentina, Canada, Germany

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The 2015-16 Knight Science Journalism Fellows will join more than 330 journalists who have taken part in the world-renowned MIT fellowship program since 1983.
The 2015-16 Knight Science Journalism Fellows will join more than 330 journalists who have taken part in the world-renowned MIT fellowship program since 1983.
Photo: Patrick Wellever

Knight Science Journalism at MIT — the Institute’s world-leading fellowship program for working journalists covering science, technology, health, and the environment — announced today that 10 journalists working in four countries have been selected to join the program’s 33rd class of fellows.

The journalists, including five women and five men, will audit courses, visit top New England science destinations, and pursue media projects at MIT during the 2015-16 academic year. They will be the first group of Knight Fellows to be led by incoming Knight Science Journalism (KSJ) director Deborah Blum, who begins her work at MIT on July 1. 

A record number of journalists — 150 in all — applied to join the fellowship in 2015-16. “It was gratifying to see so many applications coming in this spring, and humbling to see the level of achievement these journalists have reached,” said Wade Roush, acting director of Knight Science Journalism at MIT. “I’m honored to have had a role in choosing this group of fellows, and I know they will make MIT proud.”

“We’re looking forward to bringing this remarkable group of science journalists to the Knight Science Journalism fellowship program this year,” added Blum, a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1997. “They’re already making a difference. We hope we can help them make even more of one. I think we’re going to have an exceptional year.”

The new Knight Fellows were selected by a committee composed of Roush; Blum; Annalee Newitz, editor-in-chief at Gizmodo; and Robin Marantz Henig, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and president of the National Association of Science Writers.

Here are brief biographies of the incoming Knight Fellows, supplied by the fellows themselves:

Alicia Chang is the Los Angeles-based science writer for The Associated Press. She previously worked in the news cooperative’s bureaus in Detroit; Columbia, South Carolina; and Albany, New York. She is the 2009 recipient of the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, an annual prize for young science journalists. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers and the Association of Health Care Journalists. Outside the newsroom, she has taught reporting and writing at the University of Southern California.

Sasha Chapman is a senior editor at The Walrus, Canada’s most decorated magazine. In addition to commissioning and editing long-form journalism, she is a feature writer who has produced columns at the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, and Report on Business. Best known for writing about food issues, she explores the environmental and health implications of the industrial food complex, examining the way we produce and consume food to better understand the way we live.

Zack Colman is a Washington-based energy and environmental policy reporter who most recently worked for the Washington Examiner. He has focused on climate change policy, the electric utility and oil and gas industry, and the environmental movement. He has also explored U.S. conservative attitudes and responses to the changing energy and climate landscape in American politics and among the public. Colman's past stops include The Hill newspaper, trade publication Smart Grid Today, and the Associated Press' Springfield, Illinois, bureau; while working in Springfield he earned a master's degree from the University of Illinois-Springfield. He is a Metro Detroit native and Michigan State University alumnus.

Courtney Humphries is a freelance journalist based in Boston who writes features on new insights and developments in science, medicine, and culture.  She covers a wide range of topics, including neuroscience, microbiology, ecology, architecture, and urban planning. Her work has appeared frequently in The Boston Globe’s Ideas section and MIT Technology Review, and she has written for Nature, Science, New Scientist, WIRED, Harvard Magazine, and other publications. She’s the author of "Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan….And the World," a nonfiction account of the natural history of street pigeons, published by Smithsonian Books/Harper-Collins in 2008. She has a masters’ degree in science writing from MIT.

Christopher Ketcham is a freelance journalist who has been published in Harper’s, The New Republic, VICE, GQ, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Orion, Earth Island Journal, and many other magazines and websites. He is a native of New York City. In recent years he has reported from the American West about wildlife conflicts, ecology, drought, industry deregulation, and environmental degradation. During his fellowship, he will work on a book about the future of the last wild places in the West’s public lands system.  

Anja Krieger is a freelance journalist based in Berlin, Germany. She reports on the environment, science and technology for the German national public radio network Deutschlandradios and for online and print media such as ZEIT and taz, die tageszeitung. Together with journalists from around the globe, Kreiger experiments with trans-boundary environmental journalism within the Climate News Mosaic. The group’s first project was a “glocal” live-blog covering the 2013 climate summit in Warsaw, published on nine different media platforms. Kreiger holds a graduate degree in cultural sciences from the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), and has studied abroad at the University of Salamanca in Spain and as a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Department of Anthropology.

Federico Kukso is an independent science journalist with 15 years of experience writing about the intersections of science and literature (especially pop culture) and how the arts feed back into scientific research. He writes about science, technology, and culture for popular science magazines such as Muy Interesante Argentina, Quo México, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Scientific American. Previously, he was in charge of the science section of national newspapers like Página/12, Crítica, and Revista Ñ, the cultural magazine of Clarín newspapers. In addition to his writing, Kukso has produced many science TV shows for Discovery Channel, Tecnópolis TV and NatGeo Latin America. He is the author of two books: "All You Need to Know about Science" and "The Bathrooms Weren't Always Like This." He is also member of the Argentinian Network of Science Journalism.

Betsy Mason is a California-based science journalist. She was a senior editor at WIRED in charge of online science coverage from 2008 to 2015. She founded the WIRED Science Blogs network and continues to co-author WIRED’s Map Lab blog. Previously, she was the science and national laboratories reporter at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she won the American Geophysical Union’s David Perlman Award in 2007 for coverage of earthquake risk in California. Mason has a master’s degree in geology from Stanford University and is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz's Science Communication Program. She is a board member of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

Rod McCullom is a biomedical and global health journalist who specializes in reporting on medicine, health disparities, and infectious diseases across the African Diaspora. Much of his recent reporting has focused on the domestic and global HIV/AIDS epidemics.  He has reported the epidemic from across Sub-Saharan Africa and been awarded reporting fellowships to Australia, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Spain, and Zambia. McCullom has written and produced for ABC News, ABC New York City, NBC Chicago, and FOX Chicago. He is a frequent contributor to The Atlantic, and his work has appeared at Scientific American, The Los Angeles Times, Ebony,, Poz, and many other publications. He also contributed to the anthologies "For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Still Not Enough" and "Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage." McCullom attended the University of Chicago.

Ashley Smart is a science news reporter and features editor at Physics Today. He reports on all of the physical sciences, but he especially enjoys writing about topics at the intersection of physics and biology. He is a member of the governing board of the DC Science Writers Association and the co-founder of HBSciU, a science news blog that specializes in covering research by scientists of African descent and by scientists affiliated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Knight Science Journalism at MIT was founded in 1983 as a unit of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society in MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. It has gradually increased its reach and scope with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and especially the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

More than 330 staff and freelance journalists from dozens of countries around the world have taken part in the program’s nine-month fellowship program. Another 300-plus reporters and editors have traveled to MIT for the program’s short courses in areas such as brain science, astrophysics, energy, food, and biostatistics. Graduates of the nine-month program have written more than 170 books and have won major journalism prizes, including the Pulitzer (most recently awarded to 2014-15 Knight Fellow Bob Young, part of a team at The Seattle Times recognized for its coverage of the devastating Snohomish County mudslide of March, 2014).

MIT will welcome the new class of Knight Science Journalism Fellows to campus in August 2015. Their term extends through May 2016. For more information about Knight Science Journalism at MIT, visit or write to

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