Faculty & Staff

Deborah Blum, Director
dlblum@mit.edu | @deborahblum
Phone: 617-258-8249
Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer-prizewinning American science journalist, columnist, and author of six books, including The Poison Squad (2018), and The Poisoner’s Handbook (2010). She is a former president of the National Association of Science Writers, was a member of the governing board of the World Federation of Science Writers, and currently serves on the board of advisors of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Blum is co-editor of the book A Field Guide for Science Writers, and in 2015, she was selected as the fourth director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT.

Lucas Haugen, Program Assistant
Lucas Haugen is the Program Assistant for the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program and an administrative assistant and proofreader for Undark magazine. He graduated with a B.A. in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also took courses in creative writing. Lucas previously volunteered at the Wisconsin State Historical Museum, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta history honor society. Born in Sacramento, California, and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Lucas has spent most of his life in state capitals.

Jane Roberts, Deputy Editor, Undark
Phone: 617-258-8889
Jane Roberts, Deputy Editor of Undark magazine, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a B.A. in Journalism and Economics, with a minor in Environmental Studies. Before coming to the Knight Science Journalism program, Jane interned with the wealth team at Forbes, where she valued and wrote about some of the country’s richest billionaires. She joined Undark Magazine as Associate Editor in 2016 and has since developed its widely respected fact-checking program.

Frankie Schembri, Audience Engagement Editor
Phone: 617-253-0961
Frankie Schembri is the Audience Engagement Editor for Undark Magazine and marketing manager for the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program. Frankie received her master’s degree from the graduate science writing program at MIT, and her work as a multimedia science and technology reporter has appeared in Science, MIT Technology Review, and Scientific American, among other publications. Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, and now based in Cambridge, Frankie also likes researching internet subcultures, meeting cats, and watching baseball.

Ashley Smart, Associate Director
Phone: 617-253-3442
Ashley Smart joined the KSJ program as associate director in 2018, following eight years as an editor at Physics Today. He received a PhD in chemical and biological engineering from Northwestern University in 2007 and followed that with a two-year post-doc at the California Institute of Technology before taking up a career in science journalism. A 2015-16 KSJ fellow, he is a member of the advisory board of the Council for the Advancement of Science writing and a co-chair of the diversity committee at the National Association of Science Writers.

Bettina Urcuioli, Program Administrator
Phone: 617-452-3513
Bettina Urcuioli is Program Administrator for the Knight Science Journalism Program. Prior to joining KSJ, she was the Program Manager for the MIT CoLab’s Malaysia Sustainable Cities Program, a five-year collaboration with the Universiti Tecknologi Malaysia (UTM). Bettina has a particular interest in the global uses and adaptations of online digital learning technologies in higher education and recently completed a graduate certificate from Northeastern in Higher Education Administration with this focus. She holds a Master of Arts in Art History from the University of Western Ontario and received her B.A. from Indiana University Hutton Honors College.

Tom Zeller Jr., Editor in Chief, Undark
tzeller@mit.edu | @tomzellerjr
Phone: 617-324-4997
Tom Zeller Jr. has spent two decades covering technology, energy policy, poverty, and the environment for a variety of national and international publications, including 12 years as a staff writer and editor at The New York Times. Tom is a former grantee of the International Reporting Project, and he was selected as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow in 2013. He joined the KSJ program as the founding editor of Undark in 2015.