Seminars & Events

Gina McCarthy speaks to the 2018-19 KSJ fellows.

UPDATE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all remaining seminars in the Spring 2020 Knight Science Journalism seminar series will be held by video conference, and participation will be limited to current fellows. Please check back later for information about the Fall 2020 seminar series.

Unless otherwise noted, seminars take place from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm

Spring 2020 schedule:

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
No seminar (Fellows project discussion)

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Book Talk: Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond
Lydia Denworth
Lydia Denworth is a Brooklyn-based science journalist whose work is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. A contributing writer for Scientific American and Psychology Today, she has also written for the Atlantic and the New York Times.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
The Gravitational-Wave Universe: The Beginning of a New Era in Astronomy
Lisa Barsotti, MIT Kavli Institute
Lisa Barsotti is a Principal Research Scientist at MIT’s Kavli Institute / LIGO Laboratory. Her primary research interests include Strong Gravity & Gravitational Radiation, Gravitational Wave Detection, LIGO and Quantum Measurements.  She received her PhD in Applied Physics from Pisa University, Italy, in 2006. Her research has led to groundbreaking findings in the field of quantum measurements.

Thursday, February 27, 2020
Biobot: Converting Sewers Into Public Health Observatories
Mariana Matus and Peter R Chai
As Biobot’s CEO & Cofounder, Mariana Matus leads technology and product development. During her PhD in computational biology at MIT, Mariana co-founded the MIT Underworlds Project: an interdisciplinary research collaboration between the Alm Lab and Senseable City Lab to study a city’s collective microbiome for public health insights. Through Underworlds, she worked closely with engineers, designers, chemists, virologists, and public health practitioners to develop methods and run proof-of-concept pilots in Cambridge, Boson, Kuwait City, and Seoul. Peter R Chai is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School and affiliate research scholar at the Fenway Institute, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is interested in the development of technologies to measure changes in human health with a focus in medication adherence for HIV prevention and substance use disorders.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
The Global Rise of Platform Firms in Urban Mobility Markets
Jason Jackson
Jason Jackson is Ford Career Development Assistant Professor in Political Economy and Urban Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Jason’s research focuses on the relationship between states and markets. It seeks to understand the historical origins and evolution of the institutional arrangements through which states and markets are constituted from the late 19th century to the present. Jason’s work is particularly focused on the role of economic ideas and moral beliefs in shaping market institutions. Jason is also a member of the Task Force on Work of the Future at MIT.

Thursday, March 5, 2020
AI and Human Flourishing
Rosalind Picard
Professor and Director of Affective Computing Research at the MIT Media Lab, Rosalind Picard invents technologies for understanding the emotions and behaviors that impact health and wellbeing. She wrote the book Affective Computing, which described how to give machines the skills of emotional intelligence, and is credited for launching the growing field of Affective Computing. Author of over 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles and inventor on over a dozen patents, Picard co-founded two companies: Empatica, providing the first AI-based smart watch cleared by FDA, and Affectiva, enabling measurement of facial and vocal expressions. Picard serves as MIT’s faculty chair for MindHandHeart, a campus-wide wellbeing initiative, and as chief scientist for Empatica. She has received numerous honors and awards including one of the highest an engineer can receive, election to the National Academy of Engineering, for her contributions to wearable and affective computing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
STAT newsroom tour (Fellows only. Special Time and Location: 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm, STAT headquarters)

Thursday, March 12, 2020
No seminar

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
5 Reasons for Optimism about News Innovation in 2020 (CANCELLED)
Jeremy Caplan

Thursday, March 19, 2020 (Fellows only)
Tour of the Broad Institute Drug Repurposing Hub (CANCELLED)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
No Seminar (MIT Spring Break)

Thursday, March 26, 2020
No Seminar (MIT Spring Break)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
AI in the Press; AI in Reality (REMOTE SEMINAR)
Randall Davis
Randall Davis has been a Full Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT since 1989. He has served as Associate Director of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (1993-1998), as a Research Director of CSAIL from 2003-2007, and as Associate Director of CSAIL from 2012-2014. Dr. Davis has been a seminal contributor to the fields of knowledge-based systems and human-computer interaction, publishing more than 100 articles and playing a central role in the development of several systems. He and his research group are developing advanced tools that permit natural multi-modal interaction with computers by creating software that understands users as they sketch, gesture, and talk.

Thursday, April 2, 2020
Mariette DiChristina
Mariette DiChristina is the dean of the College of Communication at Boston University and a nationally recognized science journalist. Before arriving in 2019, DiChristina was the editor-in-chief and executive vice president of Scientific American, as well as executive vice president, magazines, of the magazine’s publisher, Springer Nature. The first woman to head Scientific American since its founding in 1845, she led the editorial team to honors including the coveted National Magazine Award for General Excellence. In her Springer Nature role, she oversaw an editorial and publishing staff of more than 160 people across 10 countries.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Space to Sea: A Journey Into Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (REMOTE SEMINAR)
Keith Ellenbogen
MIT Sea Grant visiting artist Keith Ellenbogen explores the diverse marine ecosystem off the coast of Boston and Cape Cod through underwater photography and imaging techniques like microscopy. The photographer was awarded a National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Award to fund “Space to Sea,” a three-year characterization of the sanctuary. Ellenbogen works with key scientists, engineers and students at the intersection of art, science, and technology to enrich public perception of local waters, and recently presented to the US Senate Ocean Caucus. Join MIT Sea Grant for a special presentation of Space to Sea and a discussion with researchers working in the Sanctuary.

Thursday, April 9, 2020
A Conversation About Science Books (CANCELLED)
Amanda Cook

Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Building the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing (REMOTE SEMINAR)
Daniel Huttenlocher
Daniel Huttenlocher is the inaugural dean of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. Previously he helped found Cornell Tech, the digital technology oriented graduate school created by Cornell University in New York City, and served as its first Dean and Vice Provost. His research and teaching have been recognized by a number of awards including ACM Fellow and CASE Professor of the Year. He has a mix of academic and industry background, having been a Computer Science faculty member at Cornell, researcher and manager at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and CTO of a fintech startup. He currently serves as the board chair of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and as a member of the board of Corning Inc. and He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and master’s and doctorate from MIT.

Thursday, April 16, 2020
Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Change Programs (REMOTE SEMINAR)
Sarah Kopper and Claire Walsh
Sarah Kopper is a Research Manager at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). She works to improve research operations at J-PAL with a focus on research resources shared across J-PAL’s offices and projects. Her research focuses on the relationship between agricultural input markets, input use, and production in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Claire Walsh is a Senior Policy Manager and leads J-PAL’s Environment & Energy team, J-PAL’s Innovation in Government Initiative, and works on J-PAL’s Gender sector. In 2019, MIT awarded her the “Excellence Award,” among the highest honors of the institute for its staff.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
No seminar

Thursday, April 23, 2020
More Than Pretty Pictures (CANCELLED)
Felice Frankel

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Book Talk: Why Trust Science? (CANCELLED)
Naomi Oreskes

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Book Talk: Mind Fixers (CANCELLED)
Anne Harrington

Thursday, April 30, 2020
Special Event: “Ada and the Engine,” at Central Square Theater. (CANCELLED)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Fellows’ Showcase, Day 1

Thursday, May 7, 2020
Fellows’ Showcase, Day 2

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
No seminar (Fellows’ trip to Bar Harbor)

Thursday, May 14, 2020
Fellows’ Showcase, Day 3 (Special time: 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.)

Fall 2019 schedule:

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
The Best Science Stories Are Improbable (At First Glance)
Marc Abrahams
Marc Abrahams writes about research that makes people laugh, then think. Abrahams founded the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony in 1991, and serves as Master of Ceremonies. He co-founded and edits the magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), and wrote This is Improbable, The Ig Nobel Prizes, and other books. He edits and writes much of the website and blog, and the monthly newsletter mini-AIR. The Washington Post called Abrahams “the nation’s guru of academic grunge.”

Thursday, September 12, 2019 (Fellows only)
Special Event: The IgNobel Prize Ceremony (6 pm to 8 pm, Sanders Theatre, Harvard)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Food & Nutrition Headlines, From Nutrition Labels to Food Safety
Jerold Mande
Jerold R. Mande is Professor of the Practice, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and a Senior Fellow, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, at Tufts University. Mande joined the Tufts faculty in May 2017. In addition to his faculty duties, Mande is leading an initiative on advocacy, food policy change, and public health impact. In 2009 he was appointed by President Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack as Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, and after two years transitioned to focusing on reforming the national feeding programs.

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Book Talk — Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic
Matt McCarthy
Matt McCarthy is the author of two national bestsellers, The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly and Odd Man Out. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell and a staff physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he serves on the Ethics Committee. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Slate, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Deadspin. He reviews nonfiction for USA Today and is editor-in-chief of Current Fungal Infection Reports.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 (Fellows Only)
Can We Fix Social Media?
Ethan Zuckerman
Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and an Associate Professor of the Practice at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change, the role of technology in international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists. He is the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection (W. W. Norton, 2013).

Thursday, September 26, 2019
No seminar (Fellows Project Discussion)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Testing Quantum Theory With the Cosmos
David Kaiser
David Kaiser is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and also Professor of Physics in MIT’s Department of Physics. His physics research focuses on early-universe cosmology, working at the interface of particle physics and gravitation. His book How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival charts the early history of Bell’s theorem and quantum entanglement and was named “Book of the Year” by Physics World magazine.

Thursday, October 3, 2019
No Seminar (Fellows Woods Hole Trip)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Randomized Controlled Trials in the Social Sciences
Anja Sautmann
Anja Sautmann is the Director of Research, Education, and Training at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). She guides J-PAL’s efforts in providing research support to regional offices and affiliated professors, defining and monitoring research standards, and fostering research transparency. She also oversees J-PAL’s internal training and external education initiatives. She has ongoing projects on health care subsidies and malaria prescription practices in Mali and electricity pricing in South Africa.

Thursday, October 10, 2019
Book Talk — Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom
Katherine Eban
Katherine Eban, an investigative journalist, is a Fortune magazine contributor and Andrew Carnegie fellow. Her articles on pharmaceutical counterfeiting, gun trafficking, and coercive interrogations by the CIA, have won international attention and numerous awards. She has also written for Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Self, The Nation, the New York Observer and other publications. Her work has been featured on 60 Minutes, Nightline, NPR, and other national news programs. She lectures frequently on the topic of pharmaceutical integrity.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
No seminar (MIT holiday)

Thursday, October 17, 2019
The Science of Storytelling with Story Collider
Ari Daniel and Katherine Wu
Ari Daniel is a science reporter for NOVA and public radio who uses multimedia to tell stories about science using radio, video, and online games, and Senior Producer with Story Collider. He received his PhD in biological oceanography, tagging wild Norwegian killer whales. In the fifth grade, he won an award for most contagious smile.
Katherine Wu is a Boston-based science writer for NOVA and a Producer with Story Collider. She recently earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University, where she studied how bacteria deal with stress so that she could one day learn to do the same. She formerly served as a 2018 AAAS Mass Media Fellow at Smithsonian magazine.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019
No seminar

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 (Fellows only)
Special Event: Story Collider Boston (8 pm to 10 pm, Oberon Theatre, Harvard)

Thursday, October 24, 2019
Behind the Lynchings: Uncovering Racial Violence in the US South, 1930-1954
Melissa Nobles
Melissa Nobles is a professor of political science and dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT. She is the author of “Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics” and “The Politics of Official Apologies,” and is at work on a study of violence against African-Americans in the Jim Crow era.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Science Diplomacy in an Age of Uncertainty
Ronit Prawer
Ronit Prawer is the Director of the UK Government’s Science and Innovation Network (SIN) for the Eastern USA. SIN is part of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Ronit and her team are tasked with designing and implementing an ambitious strategy to grow and strengthen the bilateral relationship between Great Britain and the United States on research and Innovation.

Thursday, October 31, 2019 (Special time: 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm)
Let’s Talk About Books
Amy Brand
Amy Brand is director of the MIT Press and co-founder of the MIT Knowledge Futures Group, a partnership with the MIT Media Lab to develop open knowledge infrastructure. She has played a seminal role in transformative scholarly communications initiatives such as ORCiD, CRediT, and Peer Review Transparency. Previously, Amy held positions at Digital Science, Harvard, and Crossref, and she currently serves on the boards of Creative Commons, Crossref, and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Board on Research Data and Information. She studied linguistics and cognitive science, and is producing a movie on women in science.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Book Talk — The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age
Bina Venkataraman
Bina Venkataraman teaches in the program on science, technology & society at MIT and is the author of The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age(Riverhead Books, 2019).  She is the incoming Editorial Page Editor of The Boston Globe. Bina formerly served as Director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute and as Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation in the Obama White House. Prior to that, she was a science journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe. She is a fellow at New America.

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Real Talk with a Book Agent
Mackenzie Brady Watson
Mackenzie Brady Watson is a literary agent with Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, focusing on adult narrative non-fiction. As a former research scientist, she has a great passion for science books, especially if they are historically driven or revolutionize current theory, as well as sociology, investigative journalism, food writing, memoir, health and wellness, and business books. She particularly appreciates work that sheds light on marginalized experiences and helps contribute to the cultural conversation. In addition to being an agent, Mackenzie is also a founding board member of INKLUDED (a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to increasing and celebrating the diversity within the publishing industry.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Biologically Inspired Engineering: The Next Technology Wave
Donald Ingber
Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., is the Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Ingber currently leads a multifaceted effort at the Wyss Institute to develop breakthrough bioinspired technologies to advance healthcare and to improve sustainability. His work has led to major advances in mechanobiology, tumor angiogenesis, tissue engineering, systems biology, nanobiotechnology and translational medicine, and also has helped to break down boundaries between science, art and design.

Thursday, November 14, 2019 (Special time: 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm)
Fact-Checking: From History to How-to
Jane Roberts
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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 (Fellows only. Special Location: The Broad Institute)
The Genetics of Kidney Disease
Anna Greka
Anna Greka is an institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she directs the institute’s Kidney Disease Initiative. Greka is a physician-scientist leading the translation of scientific discoveries from the laboratory to clinical trials. She is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School (HMS); an associate physician in the Renal Division in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH); and the founding director of Kidney-NExT, a Center for Kidney Disease and Novel Experimental Therapeutics at BWH and HMS.

Thursday, November 21, 2019
How the New England Journal of Medicine Evaluates Medical Research
John Jarcho
Dr. John Adams Jarcho is a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a deputy editor at the New England Journal of Medicine. He is also an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Jarcho’s clinical interests include cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, cardiovascular genetics and heart transplantation. At the New England Journal, he is the editor responsible for reviewing and editing articles in the field of cardiovascular research. He has also played a central role in planning and arranging for expedited review and publication of major, practice-changing clinical trials.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Making Climate Change Personal: Covering the Greatest Public Health Challenge of Our Time
Gina McCarthy
Gina McCarthy is Professor of the Practice of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard C-CHANGE). McCarthy has been a leading advocate for common sense strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years. She served under President Barack Obama as the 13th Administrator of the EPA from 2013–2017.

Thursday, November 28, 2019
No seminar (Thanksgiving)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019
No seminar (Fellows Project Discussion)

Thursday, December 5, 2019 (Fellows only. Special Location: American Academy of Arts and Sciences)
An Evening at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is both an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members and an independent research center convening leaders from across disciplines, professions, and perspectives to address significant challenges. Early members included George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton.