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Dec 22, 2013, Victor McElheny

Photo: U.S. Dept. of State

One morning in January, 1995, Chuck Vest and I visited the leaders of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami to thank them for their $5 million challenge gift for the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT, which the Institute splendidly matched with an additional $2.5 million in five annual installments. We breakfasted jovially, and Chuck presented Lee Hills, chairman, and Creed Black, president, a book of testimonials from MIT Knight Fellows, along with a Steuben crystal beaver with garnet eyes. I explained that the beaver symbolized the smart, ornery spirit of MIT students, and Chuck smiled and added another word: "nocturnal."

It was a fine moment in Chuck's firm and consistent backing of an unusual initiative in bolstering the knowledge and confidence of journalists who are dedicated to talking straight to the public about science and technology. He often saw the Knight Fellows three times a year, at a welcoming party, during a frank seminar about MIT's challenges, and in the Fellows' "graduation" in his office, a warm custom that began with Paul Gray, who flashed the green light for the program to start.

Chuck Vest's death is a poignant moment for all the 300 Knight Fellows who have spent an academic year at MIT, and the 300 more who have joined us for our short-course "Boot Camps" on hot topics. He brought wry good humor and a firm moral sense to all his tasks. We will miss him.

— Victor McElheny

Aug 9, 2013

Two 2010-'11 Knight Fellows are winners of The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) 12th Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment.

Hillary Rosner was awarded First Place, Outstanding Feature Story, for her article "Attack of the Mutant Pupfish," which appeared in the December 2012 issue of Wired.

Matt McGrath was awarded Honorable Mention, Outstanding Beat Reporting, Large Market, for his work as Environment Correspondent at BBC News.

Congratulations to both Hillary and Matt!

Jun 12, 2013

The Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT has selected Maryn McKenna as its 2013-2014 Journalism Project Fellow. She will carry out research on food science and food production and will produce a book-length text and a series of multimedia stories from the research.

She is a journalist and author who writes about public health, global health, medicine, and food policy. She has reported from a field hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a village on Thailand's west coast that was erased by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a CDC team investigating the anthrax-letter attacks on Capitol Hill, a graveyard within the Arctic Circle that held victims of the 1918 flu, a malaria hospital in Malawi, an isolation ward for multi-drug resistant TB in Vietnam and a polio-eradication team in India. She is the author of SUPERBUG: The Fatal Menace of MRSA (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2010), an investigation of the global epidemic of drug-resistant staph, which received the 2013 June Roth Memorial Book Award and the 2011 Science in Society Award; and BEATING BACK THE DEVIL: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (FP/S&S, 2004), which recounts a year she spent embedded with the CDC's rapid-reaction force and which was named a Top Science Book by Amazon and an Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association. She is a columnist for Scientific American and blogs for Wired. She is a Senior Fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.

May 1, 2013

Erich Hoyt, Senior Research Fellow, WDC, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation and 1985-'86 Fellow, won the The European Cetacean Society Mandy McMath Conservation Award. The award was presented to Hoyt this past April at the annual ECS conference in Setubal, Portugal. Hoyt was selected for his outstanding achievements in the field of cetacean conservation around the world.

For more information about he award, visit The European Cetacean Society web site.

In addition to The European Cetacean Society Mandy McMath Conservation Award, Hoyt's latest book Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises (Taylor & Francis, New York, London) was selected in February by the journal Choice as one of the Outstanding Academic Titles of 2012.

May 1, 2013

Knight Science Journalism at MIT has selected twelve journalists working in six countries for its 31st class of Fellows. The journalists will study science, health, environment and technology at MIT during the academic year 2013–14.

Catalina Arevalo is an environment correspondent for the leading Spanish language news agency, EFE, based in Madrid, Spain.

Aleszu Bajak is a freelance journalist and founder of, a weekly bilingual digest of science news out of Central and South America.

Julia Belluz is the senior editor at The Medical Post, a contributing writer at Maclean’s magazine, and creator of the blog Science-ish, based in Toronto, Canada.

Nick Clark is a Doha, Qatar-based anchor/correspondent with Al Jazeera English.

Rachel Ehrenberg is an interdisciplinary sciences/chemistry writer, with Science News, based in Washington, DC.

Mark Harris is a freelance writer for The Economist and The Sunday Times, among others, and a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum. He is based in Seattle, WA.

Lynda Mapes of Seattle, WA is a staff writer at the Seattle Times, specializing in natural history, environmental topics and native cultures.

Jason Palmer is a science and technology reporter with BBC News, based in London.

Susan Phillips is an energy reporter and multi-media journalist with StateImpactPennsylvania, a joint project of NPR/WHYY/witf.

Jonathan Sahula is a freelance film and video editor and producer who frequently works for PBS’s NOVA. He is based in Boston, MA.

Yves Sciama is a freelance journalist from Grenoble, France. His work has appeared in Science et Vie, La Recherche, and Le Monde.

Tom Zeller is a senior reporter with the Huffington Post, primarily covering energy and the environment.

The new Knights were chosen by a committee composed of Philip J. Hilts, director, Knight Science Journalism at MIT; Charles Petit, science writer and KSJ Tracker; Susan Moran, freelance journalist; Joyce Murdoch, former Washington Post editor and reporter; and John Durant, director of the MIT Museum. 

Mar 12, 2013, The following 12 Fellows have been selected to attend the 2013 Food Boot Camp March 26-29, 2013
JoNel Aleccia NBC News
Elizabeth Baier Minnesota Public Radio
Tasha Eichenseher Discover
André Gallant Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald
Katharine Gammon Freelancer
Susan Heavey Thomson Reuters
Karin Klein Los Angeles Times
Renée Pellerin  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Catherine Price Penguin Press
Luis Silvestre Sabado Newsmagazine
Susan West Food and Environment Reporting Network
Angela Yeoh Independent / Wall Street Journal


Jan 11, 2013

Photo: Karen Klinger, seated second from left, with the 1985-86 Vannevar Bush fellows.

Karen M. Klinger was a career journalist and one of the program's earliest alumni. Klinger was selected for the 1985-86 Vannevar Bush fellowship -- the precursor to the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship. She died in Chicago on Dec. 16, 2012, after a battle with cancer.

Klinger travelled widely during her early career with the San Jose Mercury News and Agence France Presse. After her fellowship at MIT, she settled in Cambridge and expanded her work covering local issues. In 2012, she co-produced an award-winning video for Cambridge Community Television on the restoration of public art at Kendall Station.

Oct 29, 2012, Dr. Stuart Firestein discusses his new book, Ignorance: How it Drives Science

Professor of Biological Sciences

Columbia University

Media Lab, E14-633, 3PM

Aug 28, 2012

1989-90 Knight Fellow Jos van den Broek has published a new textbook on visual communication: "Visual Language -- Perspectives for Both Makers and Users." For more information, please visit:

Aug 27, 2012

2008-09 Knight fellow and former KSJ multimedia manager Dianne Finch has been named a Reynolds Visiting Business Journalism Professor at Elon University, under a grant-funded program administered through the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Read the full announcement at

Aug 1, 2012

This year the Knight Fellowships will bring in the usual number of Fellows to study at MIT and Harvard, but will also bring in a thirteenth Fellow, this one to carry out a project and produce a product rather than to study. We hope to have a Project Fellow every year into the future. In our first, experimental year, the Project Fellow will be Eli Kintisch.

A contributing correspondent for Science magazine, Kintisch will be working on a project called Bay in Flux to develop interactive apps exploring how climate change is impacting the Narragansett Bay. The year-long effort will begin with a studio class at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) that Kintisch will coteach with two RISD professors which will explore the changing Bay and innovate new means of telling its story with tablet computers. Kintisch will then coordinate the development of content and help develop the design of a working prototype tablet app aimed for May 2013 release. The project is supported by Knight Science Journalism at MIT, RISD and the National Science Foundation.

Jul 31, 2012, Victor McElheny

Dear Bush, Knight and Boot Camp Fellows:

With the new Knight Science web page here, and with our 30th anniversary coming up next February, I'd like to urge each of you to submit, for the web page, a new paragraph on your latest and best achievements.  This would add up to an amazingly varied tapestry of the great work you have been doing, and illustrate what a vibrant, worldwide community of science journalism we are continually building.

As founding director of the MIT Knight Program, I have volunteered to correspond with you about this, including questions that may occur to you.

As an example, I'll try a few lines about me:

Now that Basic Books has put out Drawing the Map of Life, my history of the Genome Project, as a paperback with a 4,000-word update to the beginning of 2012, I've started planning something risky: a 100-page essay about the array of science/technology tasks the United States and many other countries have been ducking for almost 40 years. Meanwhile, I continue active at MIT and the Knight Science Journalism program, and in the 210-member "age-in-community" organization in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and neighboring towns that my wife founded in 2007.

I hope you'll give this request priority. I want all the friends and supporters of the MIT Knight program to get a taste of what we all are accomplishing.

Jul 19, 2012

Since dispersing at the close of their fellowship year at MIT, the 1993-94 Fellows have nearly all kept in close touch with each other as their lives, careers and families have evolved. These connections have included photos and news shared in a Facebook group, frequent visits when two Fellows find themselves in the same city, wedding receptions, and most significantly a regular series of reunions. Every other summer since leaving MIT, a majority of the group has gathered for a few days in a series of colorful locales: the Outer Banks, Cape Cod, Lake Tahoe, the Rockies, Quebec City, Moscow, and Tuscany.

The largest reunion took place over the July 4, 2012, holiday, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Ten of the 11 former fellows and the acting director that year, David Ansley (who also organized the reunion), made it, together with spouses, partners and children, adding up to a group of 30. They spent several days together, hiking the rainforest and beaches, cooking huge meals, remembering the year at MIT and talking about current events and journalistic challenges. Attendees came from Australia, Germany, California, Wisconsin, Washington and the East Coast.

Among the highlights was a field seminar -- a tidepool walk at Salt Creek County Park, led by Ansley's daughter Kaza, who was 4 during the Fellowship year but now has a marine biology degree. During that beach trip, the Fellows re-enacted their official fellowship photograph, borrowing a weathered drift log in place of MIT campus sculpture. The only two people missing from the new photo are fellow Etsuko Furukori (whom the group has lost contact with), and former administrative assistant Linda Lowe.

-- David Ansley, Acting Director, 93-94

Jun 14, 2012

Dee Ann Divis (03-04) recently received the Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award, the highest journalistic honor awarded by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Dee Ann writes for Inside GNSS, a magazine covering satellite navigation systems. Her work can be found at

Jun 5, 2012

Judith Horstman (Bush, 1986-87) has another new book: The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain. Published in June by Josssy-Bass, it has blurbs from Dr. Oz, Dan Goleman and Marc Agronin who calls it "a must read for all aging brains!" It's a realistic but encouraging overview of normal aging, a sobering look at what can go wrong, and the latest in what neuroscience is finding might help your brain stay healthy longer. Horstman says the challenge of writing four brain books in four years is helping keep her own aging brain sharp. For more see: or her Amazon Author page: