The TED conference, held annually in Vancouver, Canada, has become synonymous with bold, inspiring talks by the world’s foremost intellectuals. Among this year’s start-studded slate of speakers — which included such luminaries as former Vice President Al Gore, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix — was Knight Science Journalism’s very own Anil Ananthaswamy (’20).
During a session themed “Imagination,” Ananthaswamy spoke about how experiences of “altered selves” — such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and foreign limb syndrome — can challenge our assumptions about the self. As the TED Blog reports:
“The self is a slippery subject, says science writer Anil Ananthaswamy. If you ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’ you’ll most likely answer in the form of a story. Yet people with Alzheimer’s disease lose the capacity to tell accurate stories about themselves, and still their sense of self remains. What about the body? Surely, our embodied selves are integral to who we are. But people with foreign limb syndrome often see their own body parts as horrendous and unfamiliar, and they retain a sense of self.”
In light of these and other diverse human experiences, Ananthaswamy called for empathy for people experiencing “altered selves,” the TED Blog reports.
The author of three books, Ananthaswamy is currently working on a book that will cover the mathematics of modern machine learning.
The film “Last Holdouts,” by Duy Linh Tu (’21) and Julian Lim, was named a finalist for a 2022 Covering Climate Now Journalism Award in the short feature video category. The video, which grew out of Tu’s work as a Knight Science Journalism Project Fellow, documents Louisiana’s Pointe-Au-Chien Indigenous community, who are at risk of losing their homeland to rising seas. Judges lauded the project, calling it a “cinematic portrait of the Pointe-Au-Chien Indigenous community.”
“Beautiful aerials and satellite photos reveal how much of the land has disappeared under the rising seas,” wrote the judges. “Intimate interviews with community members share the tribe’s connection to the land and the heartbreak of having to decide to stay, or to go.”
“Last Holdouts” was produced in partnership with Jeff DelViscio (’19) and Scientific American and was also supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. You can watch the full documentary short here.
In March, Angela Saini (’13) was named one of 12 spring fellows of the prestigious Logan Nonfiction Program. The fellowship supports nonfiction writers, filmmakers, photojournalists, and podcasters, providing workspace, mentoring, workshopping, and networking opportunities. For the first time in two years, the program hosted fellows in person at its campus in Rensselaerville, New York. Saini is currently at work on her fourth book, a sweeping history of the origins of patriarchy from the Neolithic onward, tentatively titled “The Patriarchs: In Search of the Origins of Male Domination.” The book is set to be published by HarperCollins UK in early 2023.
Lisa De Bode (’19) was nominated — along with her colleagues Jef Poppelmonde, Stijn Cools, and Maxie Eckert at De Standaard — for the Belfius Press Prize, Belgium’s most prestigious journalism award. The team was nominated for reporting that exposed 3M’s role in polluting local communities with a toxic chemical known as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS. The award ceremony for the Belfius Prize will take place in June. [Update: On June 22nd, De Bode and her colleagues were announced as the winners of the Belfius Prize in the Print/Web category.]
Eva Wolfangel (’20) has inked a deal to write a new book, “Ein Falscher Klick: Hackern auf der Spur” (“A Wrong Click: On the trail of hackers”). From the publisher’s page:
“Hacked power plants, failed satellite communications, paralyzed hospitals: Cyberwar is spiraling out of control. This book explains in a gripping, understandable way and with many concrete examples the dangers of online crime that we are currently exposed to. Eva Wolfangel brings us to the scene of the action: we are there up close when hackers attack companies and individuals, accompany investigators on the search for clues and those affected in their attempts to limit the damage.”
“Ein Falscher Klick,” set to be published by Penguin Random House, is expected to appear in paperback in November of this year.
Melanie Kaplan (’22) was awarded a media fellowship at Vermont Law School, where she will be an animal law fellow. For two weeks, Kaplan will take a course on the Animal Welfare Act and have access to leading legal educators and experts at one of the nation’s top environmental law schools. Kaplan is currently working on a book about the use of animals in research, testing, and education.
Tasmiha Khan (’22) was named a fellow of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. As part of the fellowship, Khan will spend 8 months collaborating with the institute to create a toolkit for journalists covering Muslims and Islam in the media. “I want to change the narrative about Muslims in the media,” Khan said in the announcement released by the institute. “9/11 was more than 20 years ago, but it is still part of the public consciousness, and it’s not difficult to pick up a newspaper and find harmful language and stereotypes.”
Earlier this month, Khan was also named a member of the inaugural cohort of Altavoz Lab, a program affiliated with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists that seeks to strengthen reporting serving communities of color. The program’s first cohort includes seven reporters, each of who will be paired with a mentor to work on an accountability reporting project. Khan will be reporting for Chicago’s Borderless Magazine.
This summer, Aleszu Bajak (’14) will be a journalist in residence at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna, where he will be working on a project to “develop, select, and apply the most appropriate data science methods and social science questions to a self-collected dataset from U.S. 2022 election candidate messaging.” Bajak, a senior data reporter at USA Today, will be learning new methods and approaches from experts in network science, social science, and political communication.
And in other alumni career moves… Jared Whitlock (’22) has been hired as features editor of Endpoints News, a leading outlet covering the biopharma sector… After a stint at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Emily Mullin (’22) will be joining Wired Magazine as a staff writer covering biotechnology… Tim De Chant (’19) is leaving Ars Technica to join Tech Crunch, as their senior climate writer covering climate and clean tech from the lab to the marketplace… Ashley Belanger (’21) has joined Ars Technica as senior technology reporter, innovation, where she’ll be covering tech policy news.
Here’s what other alumni are writing, a compendium from Federico Kukso:
Jason Bittel (’21): “The Shakespearean Tall Tale That Shaped How We See Starlings,” The New York Times.
Andrada Fiscutean (’20): “Conflict Complicates Energy Policy Shift in Eastern Europe,” Foreign Policy (with Ashira Morris); “Ukrainian tractors vs. Russian tanks: The hundred-year history behind the meme,” GRID.
Maryn McKenna (’14): “The Post-Roe Battleground for Abortion Pills Will Be Your Mailbox,” Wired.
Herton Escobar (’07): “Scientists complete global list of endangered reptiles,” Jornal da USP (in Portuguese).
Federico Kukso (’16): “Steve Brusatte, science advisor for ‘Jurassic World Dominion’: ‘If the dinosaurs became extinct during a period of climate change, the same thing can happen to us’,” Agencia SINC (in Spanish).
Valeria Román (’05): “‘We warned that the cases could grow, but we did not think it would be so immediate,’ said the expert who warned about the monkeypox outbreak,” Infobae (in Spanish).
Sujata Gupta (’18): “How having health care workers handle nonviolent police calls may impact crime,” Science News.
Teresa Carr (’18): “For Online News Association, the Thorny Ethics of Partnering with 3M,” Undark.
Zack Colman (’16): “Climate goes missing in action in Russia’s war,” POLITICO (with Karl Mathiesen and Zia Weise).
Yves Sciama (’14): “Gulf Stream: What if the North Atlantic Current stopped?” Science et Vie (in French).
Chris Mooney (’10): “A megafire raged for 3 months. No one’s on the hook for its emissions,” The Washington Post (with Amanda Coletta, Brady Dennis, Naema Ahmed and John Muyskens).
Teresa Firmino (’09) and Aline Flor: “Luís Ceríaco, explorer of nature and history of science,” Publico (in Portuguese).
Richard Friebe (’07): “How contagious is the pathogen? What we do and don’t know about monkeypox,” Der Tagesspiegel (in German).