In lieu of its traditional academic fellowships, the Knight Science Journalism Program is supporting 18 remote, project fellowships during the 2020-21 academic year. The fellows will pursue independently conceived projects — books, investigations, documentaries — that vary in length, spanning either the full academic year, the fall semester, or the spring semester.
Full-Year Project Fellows:
Carrie Arnold is an award-winning independent journalist from Virginia. After working in public health for several years, she transitioned to journalism, where she covers topics at the intersection of health and the environment. Carrie has chased stories on four continents and followed scientists as they worked everywhere from high-tech biosecurity labs to the remote Mexican desert. Her work on PTSD after sexual assault for Women’s Health won several national awards, and a piece about the multigenerational effects of a chemical disaster for Undark received an honorable mention at the Science in Society awards in 2018. Other work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, National Geographic, New Scientist, Quanta, and others.
Arnold’s project will investigate the long-term health effects of a little-known 1970s chemical disaster in Michigan, and how scientists are studying how the impact is being felt by future generations.
Ashley Belanger is an investigative science journalist whose health and politics reporting has been funded by the National Geographic Society and has appeared in Teen Vogue, Ars Technica, and other outlets. She has served as associate editor of Orlando Weekly, research assistant for Undark Magazine, and intern contributing to Gastropod and the WGBH News Center for Investigative Reporting. She trained as a journalist at the University of Florida and at the Graduate Program in Science Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT, she received an Honorable Mention for the Obermayer Prize for Graduate Student Writing.
For her investigative project, Belanger will examine major factors limiting releases from civil commitment treatment facilities throughout the U.S.
Jason Bittel is a freelance science writer who is obsessed with animals. Cute animals, weird animals, animals that eat the eyeballs of other animals, animals with chemical weapons, stun guns, and mucous grenades. Bittel reports on a range of topics, including new scientific discoveries, emerging wildlife diseases, human-wildlife conflict, and conservation. You can find his work in National Geographic, The Washington Post, New Scientist Magazine, onEarth Magazine, and Popular Science, among others. He is a former National Geographic Explorer, Student Conservation Association volunteer, blood marrow donor, and sniffer of sloth scat.
Bittel’s fellowship project will seek to reconnect people with wildlife, from the grizzlies in the hills and vultures in the sky to the toads in the backyard garden or pseudoscorpions on your bookshelf.
Roberta Kwok is a freelance science writer who has contributed to publications such as Nature, NewYorker.com, NYTimes.com, The Southern Review, Hakai, and Science News. She earned an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Indiana University Bloomington and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her journalism has won awards from the American Geophysical Union and American Association for the Advancement of Science, and her flash essay “Click” was anthologized in The Best Small Fictions 2019. Kwok has taught freelance business strategies at Courage Camp and profile writing at UC Santa Cruz.
Kwok will write a book proposal and conduct research for a collection of reported essays, which will create a kaleidoscopic view of tiny details that scientists study to illuminate big questions.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis is an award-winning journalist covering race, gender, disability, science, parenting, and mental health, and author of “The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever – And What to Do About It.” Bylines include the Atlantic, Fortune, Medium, Mother Jones, New York Times, Parents, Washington Post and Working Mother. She’s been an EWA Education Reporting Fellow, Fund for Investigative Journalism Fellow and Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute. A Harvard physics graduate and active Asian American Journalists Association member, Lewis previously worked as a national correspondent for Newhouse and Bloomberg News.
Lewis’ project will explore the science of changing racial bias in school.
Lynne Peeples is a freelance journalist and former staff reporter for The Huffington Post. Her writing also appears in Nature, PNAS, The Daily Beast, and Undark Magazine, among other publications, where it has driven conversations on issues such as racial bias in policing, complications in developing a Covid-19 vaccine, and the VA’s handling of veterans exposed to toxic chemicals. Peeples was a finalist for the 2018 National Association of Science Writers long-form reporting award. Before her move to journalism, she crunched numbers for clinical trials and environmental health studies as a biostatistician.
Peeples is pursuing a book on the modern assaults to our body clocks and the scientific efforts to rescue those rhythms.
John D. Sutter is an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Salt Lake City. His work has won the Livingston, the IRE Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Peabody Award, and has received two EMMY nominations — one for new approaches to documentary and the other for environmental reporting. At CNN, where Sutter was a senior investigative reporter and columnist for a decade, he created several award-winning initiatives, including “Two Degrees,” “Vanishing,” and “Change the List.” He is a former Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard and is a visiting instructor at The Poynter Institute.
Sutter’s project, “BASELINE,” is a pioneering documentary series that tells the story of the climate crisis beyond a human lifetime by revisiting subjects in four frontline locations between now and the year 2050.
Nicola Twilley is co-host of the award-winning Gastropod podcast and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. She is currently writing a book on the topic of refrigeration for Penguin Press. Her first book, “Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine,” is co-authored with Geoff Manaugh and will be published in spring 2021 by MCD x FSG. In her spare time, she makes smog meringues as part of an ongoing exploration of the taste of “aeroir” with the Center for Genomic Gastronomy.
Twilley will gather both the emerging research and missing data on the “fridge diet” and its effects, in order to write the first exploration of how refrigeration has shifted American consumption patterns, what health effects we could expect to see as a result of those shifts, and any evidence of those results in reality.
Fall Semester Project Fellows:
Lindsay Gellman is an independent investigative journalist based in New York. Her work focuses on the intersection of health and business, and has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Magazine, and National Geographic. She has also contributed to investigative projects for HBO. She is a lecturer at Yale University, where she teaches nonfiction writing, and a visiting scholar in the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Health. Gellman received a 2016-17 Fulbright grant to Germany to report on Berlin’s technology startups. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal covering business schools and recruiting.
Gellman will report on patient-advocacy movements centered around bodily autonomy.
Jyoti Madhusoodanan is an independent journalist based in Portland, Oregon. She writes about life sciences, health, STEM careers and ethics for Nature, Science, The New York Times, NPR, and Discover, among others. Her article about using sensory detail to enrich science reporting was anthologized in The Craft of Science Writing (2020). She has a Ph.D. in microbiology and a degree in science journalism.
Madhusoodanan’s project will examine the origins and use of race-based adjustments to tests of heart disease, kidney function and other health measures, to understand how these biased measures drive healthcare disparities.
Amy Maxmen is a senior reporter at Nature, and a host of the journal’s weekly podcast focused on the coronavirus pandemic, called Coronapod. Her writing also appears in National Geographic, Wired, and Scientific American, among other outlets. She has won multiple awards for her features on Ebola and malaria from the National Association of Science Writers and the Association of Health Care Journalists. She has reported on infectious diseases, genetics, data science, and evolution from low-income countries around the world, supported by several fellowships from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Her feature on the origin of humanity was included in the Best American Science Writing 2015. Prior to writing, Maxmen earned a PhD in evolutionary biology from Harvard University. Her doctoral research on the origin of sea spiders was published in Nature.
Maxmen will be researching the history and politics of pandemics and infectious disease outbreaks.
Lourdes Medrano is a freelance journalist based in Southern Arizona. Her reporting often focuses on matters relevant to both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, including immigration and environmental issues. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, such as The Christian Science Monitor, Undark, The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and more. She is a former reporter for daily newspapers, including the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and The Arizona Republic in Phoenix.
Medrano’s project will explore the evolution of corn.
Peter Andrey Smith is a reporter who has covered science and medicine for The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Wired, and WNYC Radiolab, among other national outlets. His work has received recognition and support from the Pulitzer Center, the Investigative Fund, and the UC Berkeley 11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship.
Smith plans to investigate the use of police canines and the safeguards currently in place to discriminate between junk science and real science.
Duy Linh Tu is a journalist and documentary filmmaker, focusing on education, science, and social justice. His work has appeared in print, online, on television, and in theaters. He has won several awards for his documentary filmmaking. He is also the author of “Narrative Storytelling for Multimedia Journalists” (Focal Press). Tu is a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of journalism, where he teaches reporting and visual storytelling.
Tu’s project, “Water Up, Water Down” is a documentary film about climate change and its effects on global migration, Native American coastal communities, and the world’s rivers and oceans.
Spring Semester Project Fellows:
Christopher Cox is an editor at the New York Times Magazine and editor-at-large at Orion. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Harper’s, and Slate and has been named a visiting scholar at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and a Logan Nonfiction Program fellow. He was formerly the editor of Harper’s and executive editor of GQ, where he worked on stories that won the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN Literary Award for Journalism, and multiple National Magazine Awards. His book about the psychology of deadlines will be published by Avid Reader Press in 2021.
Cox will be writing about drought, floods, atmospheric rivers, and the past and future of California’s climate.
Sarah Gilman is an independent writer and illustrator, a contributing editor at Hakai Magazine, and a former staff editor for High Country News. She’s covered the environment, natural history, science, and place since 2006, from home bases in the mountains of Colorado, Oregon, and mostly recently, northern Washington state. Her work has taken her deep into Chile’s Atacama Desert, and to the most remote landscape in the United States, an island far out on the Bering Sea. Her illustrated reporting has appeared in both HCN and Hakai, as well as The Atlantic and Adventure Journal Quarterly. She has also written for Audubon Magazine, The Washington Post, The Columbia Journalism Review, BioGraphic, National Geographic, and Smithsonian, among others.
Gilman will be researching, writing, and drawing about pitched battles over proposed roads in wild parts of Alaska. In a state with 640 square miles of land for every mile of paved road, these fights reveal a much broader struggle among Alaskans over the state’s identity, its future, and who, and what, its land should serve.
Jodi Rave Spotted Bear is an award-winning journalist and opinion writer, and the founder and executive director of the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance.
Jodi Rave Spotted Bear will write a book that addresses climate change, oil development, and the history of her tribe, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, in North Dakota.
Ted Wood is a freelance environmental photojournalist and multimedia producer based in Boulder, CO. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, Yale E360, The New York Times, High Country News, The Nature Conservancy Magazine and other national and international publications. He co-founded The Story Group, a multimedia company specializing in energy and environmental reporting mainly in the American West. Wood holds a Masters degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and was Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. Wood is also the author of 10 nonfiction children’s books.
As a mega-drought tightens its grip on the American Southwest, Wood will photograph and film pressing water issues throughout the Colorado River basin and create a multimedia library housed at the University of Colorado’s Water Desk to supply visual content for water reporters in the West.