In lieu of its traditional academic fellowships, the Knight Science Journalism Program is supporting 21 remote, project fellowships during the 2021-22 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. Along with Boston-based digital publication STAT, the Knight Science Journalism Program is also co-hosting the inaugural Sharon Begley-STAT Science Reporting Fellow.
Full-Year Project Fellows:
Jessica Camille Aguirre is an award-winning journalist and writer from California. She often covers climate, and is especially interested in how people make and experience extremes. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Magazine, the New York Review of Books Daily, n+1 and many others.
Aguirre will be researching and writing about the history of life support systems.
Rene Ebersole is an award-winning journalist specializing in investigative stories about science, health, and the environment. Her work has taken her to six continents and she contributes to a wide variety of media outlets, including National Geographic, The Washington Post, Popular Science, The Nation, and Audubon, where she worked as an editor for more than a decade. She has served as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program, where she received a Master’s degree.
For her investigative project, Ebersole will examine the troubling legacy of junk science in the criminal justice system.
Lauren Gravitz is an award-winning, independent science journalist based in San Diego. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Economist, The Washington Post, Nature, Aeon, and NPR. She writes about everything from cancer to car seats but is particularly interested in neuroscience and the brain, especially memory.
For her project, she will be writing about the newly emerging science of forgetting – from molecular biology to cognitive science — and the vital role it plays in our everyday lives.
Karen Hao is the senior AI editor at MIT Technology Review, covering the field’s cutting-edge research and its impacts on society. Her work is regularly taught in universities and has been cited in government reports and by Congress. In 2019, her newsletter, The Algorithm, received a Webby Award nomination for excellence and in 2020, she won a Front Page Award for co-producing the podcast In Machines We Trust.
For her fellowship project, Karen will investigate the global AI supply chain and how it often concentrates power into the hands of wealthy people, companies, and nations while leaving the less fortunate with little privacy, agency, or benefit.
Ferris Jabr is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and Scientific American. He has also written for The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Outside, Wired, Slate, and Foreign Policy, among other publications. Some of his work has been anthologized by The Best American Science and Nature Writing series. He has an MA in journalism from New York University and a Bachelor of Science from Tufts University. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Currently, he is writing a book for Random House about the coevolution of Earth and life, which will be the focus of his KSJ fellowship.
Asha Stuart is a documentary filmmaker and photographer whose work focuses on sociocultural themes. Her storytelling interests are rooted in the lives of people living in marginalized communities and facing injustice in areas of racial and economic inequality, public health, social exclusion, women’s rights, and environmental issues. She has documented issues ranging from climate migration in Bangladesh to women’s rights in southern Africa and her works have appeared on National Geographic, CNN, PBS, TIME, Politico, and PBS, among other news outlets.
Throughout the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship, Stuart will undertake a documentary film project investigating the intersection of racial inequality and environmental injustice on African-American communities in the deep south.
Emily Willingham is a science journalist and author of Phallacy: Life Lessons From the Animal Penis (Avery, 2020) and The Tailored Brain: From Ketamine, to Keto, to Companionship, A User’s Guide to Feeling Better and Thinking Smarter (Basic, 2021). She earned a PhD in biology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in urology, both after taking a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Her writing has appeared publications including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Aeon, and Undark, among others, and she is a regular contributor to Scientific American and Medscape.
Willingham’s project will focus on the science of adolescence.
Fall Semester Project Fellows:
Nina Berman is a documentary photographer, filmmaker, author and professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her books include Purple Hearts – Back from Iraq, (Trolley, 2004), Homeland, (Trolley, 2008) an, and An autobiography of Miss Wish (2017). Her most recent work looks at the environmental impact of US military weapons production and testing. Her work has received support from organizations ranging from the World Press Photo Foundation to the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
Berman’s project, When the Jets Fly is a multi-channel documentary film, photography and audio report investigating the environmental impact of USA military training focusing on Whidbey Island, WA, and the greater Puget Sound area.
Sam Bloch is a contributing writer at The Counter, where he covers business, environment and culture. He has written for The New York Times, L.A. Weekly, Places Journal, Bloomberg CityLab, and Art in America, among other publications. He is a graduate of Vassar College and the Columbia Journalism School.
As a Knight Science Journalism fellow, he will be writing about shade, and its relationship to global warming and inequality for a book to be published by Random House.
Virginia Gewin is a former soil scientist turned journalist. Based in Portland, Oregon, she writes about food security, land use, climate change, and biodiversity loss for a variety of publications, including Nature, Popular Science, Bloomberg, and Civil Eats. Her reporting has taken her to Malaysia, Peru, Iceland, Scotland, and all over the United States. She is a former Alicia Patterson Fellow and the winner of a Best of the Northwest science writing award.
Her MIT Knight Science Journalism fellowship project will focus on whether the United States is prepared for another Dust Bowl event.
Jeremy Hance is a writer and freelance environmental journalist. He is the author of the 2020 award-winning travel memoir, Baggage: Confessions of a Globe-Trotting Hypochondriac. He has worked for Mongabay as a lead writer and editor. A story on the Sumatran rhino for Mongabay was chosen for Best American Science and Nature Writing in 2019. His works have also appeared in The Guardian, HuffPost, the Daily Beast, Ensia, YaleE360, and The Sydney Morning Herald, among others.
Hance will be working on a book about the effort to save one of the world’s most endangered megafauna, the Sumatran rhino.
Melanie D.G. Kaplan is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. She writes about science, travel and animals and is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and National Parks Magazine. She has also written for The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveller, The Chicago Tribune and Southern Living. She studied journalism at both Syracuse University and Columbia University.
Kaplan will embark on a road trip with her beagle Hammy, who spent four years in a testing lab, to explore the use of dogs and other animals in testing across America. She plans to share their story in a book.
Tasmiha Khan is a freelance writer from the Midwest. She champions marginalized communities, particularly the Muslim American population including women and children. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, The New York Times, Forbes, The Daily Beast, Vox, and VICE among others. Her work for public health in marginalized communities has been recognized by President Barack Obama and the Clinton Global Initiative.
Her project will be examining the science of ensuring cultural and religious competent care for pregnant and perinatal Muslim women.
Emily Mullin is an award-winning science journalist who writes about how biology is shaping our future. She’s held staff positions covering biotech at Medium’s OneZero and MIT Technology Review, and her reporting has also appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American and National Geographic. She received her undergraduate degree from Ohio University and a master’s in science writing from John Hopkins University.
For her project, Mullin is pursuing a book on the quest to use animals as a source of organs for people who desperately need transplants.
Natasha Singer, a reporter at The New York Times, has received national recognition for her work focusing on the intersection of business, technology and society. She was a member of a Times team that received the 2019 George Polk award for an investigation of privacy issues. She is currently writing a book for W.W. Norton examining the meteoric rise of computer science education in public schools.
For her project, Singer will examine the historical parallels and differences between the Cold War push for physics education in U.S. high schools in the 1950s and current efforts by tech companies and nonprofits to normalize computer science education in American public schools.
Jared Whitlock is a freelance health reporter whose work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, WIRED and Voice of San Diego, with support from USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He previously covered biotech and health care as a staff reporter at the San Diego Business Journal; was the associate editor of the Encinitas Advocate; and was a staff reporter at The Coast News. Whitlock holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Diego State University.
His project will explore the challenges of drug development for rare diseases.
Spring Semester Project Fellows:
Rebecca Boyle is an award-winning science journalist and author based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is a frequent contributor to Scientific American, Quanta, and The New York Times, and is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. She writes primarily about astronomy, astrophysics and astrobiology, for which she has won awards from both the American Astronomical Society and the American Physical Society. Her work has been anthologized numerous times in the Best American Science and Nature Writing collection. Her first book, Walking With the Moon, is soon to be published by Random House.
Rebecca will use her fellowship to pursue a book on the history and biology of darkness, illuminating the nexus among human health, ecological health, and artificial light.
Anna Kuchment is a science reporter at The Dallas Morning News and contributing editor at Scientific American. Previously, she worked as a senior editor at Scientific American and as a staff writer at Newsweek. She holds a master of science degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism. Her first book, The Forgotten Cure (Springer, 2012), told the history of phage therapy and her work has been featured at The Open Notebook, a website specializing in training science writers.
During her fellowship Kuchment will work on Shaky Ground: The Untold Story of the Largest Earthquake Surge in Modern History (University of Chicago Press) about earthquakes and the fracking boom. She is co-writing the book with Boston College historian of science Conevery Bolton Valencius.
Julia Rosen is an independent journalist covering science and the environment from Portland, Oregon. She writes about how the world works and how humans are changing it. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Science and Nature Writing and appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Science, and High Country News. She is a former science reporter for The Los Angeles Times, where she focused on climate change. Before becoming a writer, Rosen studied polar ice cores at Oregon State University while completing her PhD in geology.
Rosen’s project will explore the origins of Earth’s grasslands and the threats they face today.
Hilke Schellmann is an Emmy-award-winning reporter and journalism professor at New York University. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MIT Technology Review, PBS/Frontline, HBO, VICE, National Geographic, and The Atlantic. She was co-producer of an award-winning 2009 documentary exploring the ethical complications and risks of surrogate pregnancies and although her primary focus today is on technology, she has continued her interest in systemic abuses of power and the impacts on vulnerable populations.
For her fellowship project, Schellmann will report on artificial intelligence and health data in education, and employment for MIT Technology Review and for an upcoming book with Hachette.
Sushma Subramanian is a health and science journalist and author of “How to Feel: The Science and Meaning of Touch.” Her byline has appeared in Slate, The Atlantic, Elle, Scientific American, Discover and others. She has twice been a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and won a Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award. Subramanian teaches journalism as an associate professor at the University of Mary Washington.
She will be writing about the ethics behind the commodification of breast milk.
Isabella Cueto is a bilingual, multimedia journalist from Miami. She has covered government, education, development and other local issues in Santa Cruz, California, South Carolina and South Florida. Cueto has also worked as a COVID-19 correspondent, spending time on the ground, in the intensive care unit of a South Carolina hospital and documenting the profound impacts of the pandemic. She is a proud product of local newsrooms and Cuban parents.
As the inaugural Sharon Begley-STAT Science Reporting Fellow, Cueto will dive headlong into the world of science journalism for the first time, with a special interest in health policy and inequity.