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Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT announces 2019-20 fellowship class

Ten top journalists from seven countries will spend an academic year studying at MIT.
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Deborah Blum
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Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT
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Photo: Eric Baetscher/Wikimedia Commons

The Knight Science Journalism program at MIT, an internationally renowned mid-career fellowship program, is proud to announce that 10 elite science journalists representing seven countries and four continents will make up its class of 2019-20.

The fellows, selected from more than 120 applicants, are an award-winning and diverse group. They include accomplished reporters from the Des Moines Register and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, veteran editors of international outlets like the BBC and New Scientist, and a freelance journalist who was recently named the European Science Writer of the Year.

The fellows will come to Cambridge for a 10-month fellowship that allows them to explore science, technology, and the craft of journalism in depth, to concentrate on a specialty in science, and to learn at some of the top research universities in the world.

“This is a tremendous group of journalists doing work that has real impact,” says Deborah Blum, the program's director. “I think they’ll find that Cambridge is really a unique and inspiring place to learn and grow as a science journalist.”

The Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT (KSJ), supported by a generous endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is recognized around the world as the premier mid-career fellowship program for science writers, editors, and multimedia journalists. With support from the program, fellows pursue an academic year of independent study, augmented by twice-weekly seminars taught by some of the world’s leading scientists and storytellers, as well as a variety of rotating, skills-focused master classes and workshops. The goal: fostering professional growth among the world’s small but essential community of journalists covering science and technology, and encouraging them to pursue that mission, first and foremost, in the public interest.

Since its founding in 1983, the program has hosted more than 350 fellows representing media outlets from The New York Times to Le Monde, from CNN to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and more.

In addition to the fellowship program, KSJ publishes the award-winning digital magazine Undark and administers a national journalism prize, the Victor K. McElheny Award. KSJ’s academic home at MIT is the Program in Science, Technology and Society, which is part of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

The 2019-20 KSJ fellows are:

Anil Ananthaswamy is a freelance journalist and former staff writer and deputy news editor for New Scientist. He also writes for Nature, Scientific American, Quanta, and PNAS’s Front Matter, among others. In 2013, he won the Association of British Science Writers’ Best Investigative Journalism award. He has authored three books: “The Edge of Physics,” “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” which was longlisted for the 2016 Pen/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and most recently, “Through Two Doors at Once.” He teaches an annual science journalism workshop at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India.

Bethany Brookshire is a staff writer for Science News for Students, a digital magazine that covers the latest in scientific research for children ages 9-14. She is also a contributor to Science News magazine, and a host of the independent podcast Science for the People. She edited “Science Blogging: The Essential Guide,” published in 2016, and has contributed freelance work to Scientific American, Slate, The Guardian, and many other leading publications. She has a BS in biology, a BA in philosophy, and a PhD in physiology and pharmacology.

John Fauber is an investigative medical reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the USA Today Network. His stories also appear in MedPage Today. Since 2009, Fauber’s work has focused on conflicts of interest in medicine. He has won more than 25 national journalism awards, leading to a special commendation for his consistent excellence from the Columbia Journalism Review. Fauber also was a major contributor to a series of stories on prion diseases in humans and animals that was selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 1993.

Andrada Fiscutean is a science and technology journalist based in Romania. She has written about Eastern European hackers, journalists attacked with malware, and North Korean scientists. Her work has been featured in Nature, Ars Technica, Wired, Vice Motherboard, and ZDNet. She’s also editor-in-chief of ProFM radio, where she assembled a team of journalists who cover local news. In 2017, she won Best Feature Story at SuperScrieri, the highest award in Romanian journalism. Passionate about the history of technology, Fiscutean owns several home computers made in Eastern Europe during the 1980s.

Richard Fisher is managing editor of features and editor of BBC Future, a science, health and technology features website aimed at international audiences. Through evidence-based analysis, original ideas, and human stories, BBC Future is dedicated to exploring how our world is changing. The site won a 2019 Webby award for “best writing (editorial).” Fisher also oversees the teams behind BBC Culture, the BBC’s global arts site, and BBC Reel, which features short-form factual video stories. Before that, he was a senior news editor and feature editor at New Scientist in London.

Tony Leys has worked at the Des Moines Register as an editor and reporter since 1988. He has been the newspaper’s main health care reporter since 2000, with a strong focus on mental health and health care policy. He also helps cover politics, including Iowa’s presidential caucus campaigns. Leys grew up in the Milwaukee area and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a national board member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Thiago Medaglia is an independent reporter for National Geographic Brazil, where he was previously an editor. Medaglia is also the founder of Ambiental Media, a Brazilian startup that transforms scientific content into accessible, compelling, and innovative journalism products. An award-winning reporter and writer, he has published stories in several media outlets, such as ESPN Brazil, Mother Jones, Estadão, Folha de São Paulo, and others. He is co-author of six books on environmental topics and was a 2015 fellow at the International Center for Journalists.

Sonali Prasad has degrees in both computer science and journalism. In 2016, she was a Google News Lab fellow and won a grant from the Brown Institute of Media Innovation to study coral reef health. She has reported on science and environment issues for publications such as the The Guardian, The Washington Post, Quartz, Mongabay, and Hakai Magazine. She was hired as an investigative reporter at the Columbia Journalism School's Energy and Environment Project, and her team's work on the U.S. Export-Import Bank's dirty fossil fuel investments won an 'Honorable Mention' at the Society of Environmental Journalist awards.

Molly Segal is an independent radio journalist based in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. Her documentaries and reports on environment and science air on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s national radio programs — including Quirks & Quarks, Ideas, Tapestry, and The World This Weekend — as well as WHYY’s The Pulse and WBUR/NPR’s Here and Now. Molly has worked for CBC Radio/TV, stationed across Canada. Her work takes her to remote mountains looking for grizzlies, counting miniscule snails in ancient hot springs, and observing paleontologists looking for 500-million-year-old fossils. Molly is the host and producer of The Narwhal’s upcoming inaugural podcast, Undercurrent: Bear 148.

Eva Wolfangel is a German science journalist, focusing on future technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, computer science, data journalism, interaction between digital and real worlds, and space travel. She writes for major magazines and newspapers in Germany and Switzerland — including ZEIT, Geo, Spiegel, and NZZ — and produces radio features. After several years as an editor, she became a freelance journalist in 2008. Eva’s specialty is to combine creative writing and technical topics in order to reach a broad audience. In 2018 she was named European Science Writer of the Year by the Association of British Science Writers.

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