Seminars & Events

Danielle Wood speaks to KSJ fellows in Fall 2018. Photo by Magnus Bjerg.

KSJ seminars and workshops are primarily for Knight Fellows, partners, and invited guests. For some seminars; there may also be a limited number of seats for members of the public. Preference will be given to former KSJ fellows. If you would like to attend a seminar, email Bettina Urcuioli, program administrator, at, with your name and affiliation.

Seminars are held most Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the KSJ offices, MIT Building E19 (400 Main Street in Cambridge), Suite 623.

Spring 2019 schedule:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Christie Aschwanden, lead writer for science at FiveThirtyEight and health columnist for The Washington Post, will discuss her new book, Good to Go. Aschwanden is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, a contributing editor for Runner’s World, and a former contributing writer for Bicycling. Her work appears in dozens of publications, including Discover, Slate, Consumer Reports, New Scientist, More, Men’s Journal,, Smithsonian and O, the Oprah Magazine. (Copies of Good to Go will be provided to all fellows.)

Thursday, February 21, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Fellows Roundtable (Fellows only)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Benjamin Decker, Research Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and member of the Information Disorder Lab (IDLab) project. IDLab is a project of the Shorenstein Center designed to identify, track, and analyze the spread of mis- and disinformation on the Internet. It shares non-partisan, evidence-based research, including weekly briefings, reports, and webinars for U.S. newsrooms, internet platforms, academics and other interested stakeholders.

Lunch Talk: Thursday, February 28, 2019, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., E19-623 (Fellows and affiliates only)
Carl Zimmer, award-winning New York Times columnist and author of She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity. Zimmer has authored 13 books about science, and his writing has earned a number of awards, including the 2016 Stephen Jay Gould Prize and a 2017 Online Journalism Award for his series of articles in which he explored his genome. His column Matter appears each week in the New York Times. She Has Her Mother’s Laugh was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review and best science book of 2018 by The Guardian. (Copies of She Has Her Mother’s Laugh will be provided to all fellows.)

Thursday, February 28, 2019, 4:30 to 6 p.m., The Broad Institute (Fellows and affiliates only)
A chalk talk with Feng Zhang, pioneer of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing techniques. Zhang is a core institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT. He leverages CRISPR and other methods to study the genetics and epigenetics of human diseases, especially complex disorders that are caused by multiple genetic and environmental risk factors and which are difficult to model using conventional methods.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 4:30 to 6 p.m, E19-623
Mackenzie Watson, of the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. Watson, a former research scientist, is a literary agent focusing on adult narrative non-fiction and select Young Adult fiction. She has a great passion for science books. Watson began her publishing career as an intern at Fine Print Literary Management and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. She was an agent with Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency and New Leaf Literary & Media before joining SKLA in 2016.

Thursday, March 7, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Robleh Ali, research scientist at the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative. Ali’s main focus is on how national currencies can be issued digitally outside the existing banking system and the role of central banks in such a system. The overall aim of the work is fundamentally reforming the financial system by changing the way money is issued. He previously led the research into central-bank-issued digital currency at the Bank of England.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
An evening with editors of MIT Press. Panelists include Beth Clevenger, senior acquisitions editor for environment & urbanism; Jermey Matthews, acquistions editor for mechanical engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences; and editorial director Gita Manaktala, who acquires books in the areas of communication, information science, and internet studies.

Thursday, March 14, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Lisa Margonelli, author of Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology. Underbug is Margonelli’s second book. Her first, Oil on the Brain, was a national bestseller that was named one of the 25 Notable Books of 2007 by the American Library Association. She has written for numerous publications, including Time, National Geographic, Wired, Salon, Discover and San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. (Copies of Underbug will be provided to all fellows.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Kieran Setiya, professor of philosophy at MIT. Setiya studies ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. He is the author of four books, including most recently, Midlife: A Philosophical Guide. His work on midlife has been featured in Aeon, Hi-Phi Nation, Five Books, the Guardian, and the New York Times. He has also written about baseball and philosophy, philosophical progress, idleness and the meaning of life.

Thursday, March 21, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
David Goldston, director of MIT Washington Office. Goldston was previously Director of Government Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environmental group, where he helped shape NRDC’s federal political strategy, policies, and communications.  Before his time at the NRDC he spent more than 20 years on Capitol Hill, working primarily on science and environmental policy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 — No seminar (Spring break)

Thursday, March 28, 2019 — No seminar (Spring break)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 — Seminar cancelled

Thursday, April 4, 2019, 4:30-6 p.m., E19-623
Quynh Do, editor at W. W. Norton. Do acquires, edits, and publishes serious nonfiction with a focus on science, math, medicine, philosophy, technology, and natural history. Her current and upcoming titles include work by virtual reality expert Jeremy Bailenson, mathematician Hannah Fry, archaeologist Alexander Langlands, and social psychologist Sheena Iyengar, among others. A card-carrying Midwesterner, she lives in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Dina Katabi, the Andrew & Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Katabi leads the Networks @MIT research group at CSAIL and is also a Director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing. She was a 2013 MacArthur fellow for her work to improve the speed, reliability, and security of data exchange, particularly in wireless networks.

Thursday, April 11, 2019 — No seminar

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 — No seminar (Patriot’s Day)

Thursday, April 18, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Simson Garfinkel, a senior scientist at the US Census Bureau, discusses The Computer Book: From the Abacus to Artificial Intelligence, 250 Milestones in the History of Computer Science. Garfinkel’s current research interests include privacy in big data, cybersecurity and usability. He has previously worked in digital forensics, digital information management, medical imaging, and counter-terrorism. (Copies of The Computer Book will be provided to all fellows.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Heather Shattuck-Heidorn, lecturer in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. Shattuck-Heidorn is a biological anthropologist who studies how our environments, social and physical, become embodied. She has conducted both international and domestic research projects focused on understanding human health and biology, and currently works as the Maine State Refugee Health Coordinator.

Thursday, April 25, 2019 – No seminar (Fellows Bar Harbor Trip)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Jane Roberts, Deputy Editor of Undark, discusses the magazine’s widely respected fact-checking program.

Thursday, May 2, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Paige Williams, staff writer for The New Yorker, discusses her book The Dinosaur Artist. Williams has taught longform narrative, investigative reporting, news reporting, features writing, and literary criticism at New York University, the University of Pittsburgh, Emory, the University of Mississippi, the Missouri School of Journalism, and Harvard, among others. She is the Laventhol/Newsday Visiting Associate Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, in New York. (Copies of The Dinosaur Artist will be provided to all fellows.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Dee Ann Divis, editor of Inside Unmanned Systems magazine. Divis has covered global navigation satellite systems and the aerospace industry since the early 1990s, writing for GPS World, Geo Info Systems, Jane’s International Defense Review, the Los Angeles Times, AeroSpace Daily, and other publications. She was the science and technology editor at United Press International for five years, leaving for a year to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow.

Lunch Talk: Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., E19-623
Ellen Shell, author of The Job: Work and Its Future in a Time of Radical Change. A long-time contributing editor for The Atlantic, Shell writes and has written on issues of science, social justice, economics, and public policy for numerous outlets and has served as an editor for a wide range of national publications and public broadcasters. Shell is co-director of Boston University’s Science Journalism Program. The Job is her fourth book. (Copies of The Job will be provided to all fellows.)

Thursday, May 9, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., MIT.nano (Fellows and affiliates only)
Tour of MIT.nano facility. Occupying the footprint of Building 12 just steps from the Infinite Corridor at the heart of campus, the MIT.nano facility is designed to support the activities of more than 2,000 MIT faculty and researchers as they design and manipulate materials, organisms, and devices at the nanoscale (one billionth of a meter). The facility houses two levels of connected clean room spaces, an instrumentation floor, chemistry labs, prototyping labs, and the unique virtual-reality and visualization Immersion Lab.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Fellows’ Showcase, Day 1:
Jason Dearen, correspondent and member of the global environment team for The Associated Press; Amina Khan, science writer at the Los Angeles Times; and Elana Gordon, most recently a reporter and audio producer at WHYY public radio in Philadelphia and a founding member of its health and science show, “The Pulse.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2019, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., E19-623
Fellows’ Showcase, Day 2:
Pakinam Amer, most recently the chief editor of Nature Middle East, published by Nature Research and part of Springer Nature; Jeff DelViscio, most recently the director of multimedia and creative at STAT; and Talia Bronshtein, investigative data journalist and former interactives editor at STAT.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., E19-623
Fellows’ Showcase, Day 3:
Lisa De Bode, a freelance journalist who has written in English and Dutch for The Atlantic, NPR, and The Guardian, among others; Rachel Gross, most recently the digital science editor at Smithsonian magazine; Tim De Chant, lecturer in MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing and formerly a senior digital editor at NOVA and founding editor of the digital magazine NOVA Next; and Magnus Bjerg, a digital projects manager at TV 2 in Denmark, the biggest Danish news broadcaster.

Fall 2018 schedule:

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
A behind the scenes guide to the IgNobel Prizes : Ahead of Thursday’s performance of the IgNobels, program director Marc Abrahams, editor of the Journal of Improbable Research and founder and master of ceremonies of the IgNobel Prize Ceremony, will discuss both the importance of humor in science stories and the evolution of the prize ceremony into an international event. His TED talk on the subject is here.

Thursday, September 13, 2018, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sanders Theatre, Harvard University
The IgNobel Prize Ceremony

Tuesday, September 18, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Fellows only event: A planning and discussion meeting regarding research projects.

Thursday, September 20, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., Media Lab, Fellows only event
A conversation with Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change. Zuckerman is a co-founder of the international blogging community, Global Voices, which features news and opinion from more than 150 countries in 30 different languages. “The world isn’t flat and globalization is only beginning, which means we have time to change what we’re doing and get it right,” he told Foreign Policy Magazine after the publication named him to its list of top global thinkers in 2011.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.
David Baron, author of the bestseller, American Eclipse, (optioned by American Experience), will discuss the book, its backstory, and the craft of narrative story telling. Baron is a former KSJ fellow (Class of 1989-90) and his book was an Amazon Top Science Book of 2017. Copies will be provided to all fellows.

Thursday, September 27, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, and author of the New York Times best-seller, The Poisoner’s Handbook, will discuss her sixth book, The Poison Squad, and some basics of a succeeding as a book author. All fellows will be provided a copy of the book.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Maria Balinska, editor and co-CEO of The Conversation US, which works with academic experts and researchers to write and publish analysis and commentary in a broad range of media outlets (including Undark). Previously, she was at the BBC in London for almost 20 years, including 10 years as Radio World Current Affairs editor. A 2010 Nieman Fellow, she is the author of “The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread.”

Thursday, October 4, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Nathaniel Stinnett, founder and executive director of the Environmental Voter Project, which uses data, analytics, and behavioral science in a national get-out-the-vote campaign focused on environmentalists. Stinnett has a J.D. from the Boston College Law School and previously worked on numerous Congressional campaigns. He sits on the board of advisors for MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018, 7:30 p.m. (fellows and partners only)
Frankenstein, performed at the Central Square Theatre, followed by media party.

Thursday, October 11, 2018, 4:30-6 p.m., E19-623 (fellows only)
Nancy Krieger, Professor of Social Epidemiology and American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) and Director of the HSPH Interdisciplinary Concentration on Women, Gender, and Health. Dr. Krieger is an internationally recognized social epidemiologist, with over 30 years of activism linking issues involving social justice, science, and health. She is author of Epidemiology and The People’s Health: Theory and Context (2011) and editor of Embodying Inequality: Epidemiologic Perspectives (2004) among many other publications.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 4:30-6 p.m., E19-623
Danielle Wood, leader of the Space Enabled Research Group at Media Lab, which seeks to harness space technology to improve life on Earth. Her TED talk on the subject can be found here. Wood holds a PhD  in systems engineering from MIT; previously she was Applied Sciences Manager in the Earth Sciences Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Thursday, October 18,2018
No seminar, Fellows trip to Woods Hole

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Caley Horan, MIT assistant professor of history; Horan is focused on the cultural influence of insurance and the role of risk-based thinking in shaping American life and politics beginning in the 20th century. She is also developing a project on the astrology of money and markets in the modern era.

Thursday, October 25 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Melissa Nobles, MIT political scientist and dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (of which KSJ is part). 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 30, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E-19-623
Michael Morisey, co-founder of Muckrock, a Cambridge-based non-profit specializing in access to public records, will discuss their work on everything from illuminating intelligence agencies to battling for public records act reform in the state of Massachusetts. Muckrock works with publications from Vice to Businessweek, seeking to pry information loose from reluctant government agencies.

Thursday, November 1 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
David Mindell, Professor of Aeronautics and Astrophysics and Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing at MIT, and co-founder of the company, Humatics, in 2015, with a mission to “revolutionize how people and machines locate, navigate and collaborate”. He will discuss his research into human-robot interactions and his book, Our Robots, Ourselves. All fellows will be provided with a copy of the book.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Edmond Awad, postdoctoral associate at the Scalable Cooperation group at MIT Media Lab. He co-developed Moral Machine, a website that gathers human decisions on moral dilemmas faced by driverless cars. The site has been visited by more than 3.5 million users, who contributed their judgments on 37 million dilemmas.

Thursday, November 8, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
David Kaiser is a Professor of Physics and the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science at MIT. Kaiser is is a leading researcher into quantum energy and behavior on a cosmological scale, working with physicists both in the US and Europe, and the author of five books, including the popular science history, How the Hippies Saved Physics. His focus for this talk will be on the science of gravity – and its political implications.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
A conversation with Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama from 2013-2017 and current director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University. McCarthy’s new center is focused on improving public understanding and engagement with the public health issues related to climate change.

Thursday, November 15, 4:30-6 p.m., E19-623, 2018
Rosalind W. Picard, founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab and faculty chair of MIT’s Mind+Hand+Heart Initiative. She co-founded companies that create wearable sensors and analytics to improve health, and deliver technology to help measure and communicate emotion. Her book “Affective Computing” was instrumental in starting the field that bears its name.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623

Helen Branswell of STAT, a vertical publication of The Boston Globe focused on biomedical science, is considered one of the best infectious disease reporters working today. Branswell was awarded the first place prize for “body of work” from the Association of Health Care Journalists last year.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623

Fellows only Project discussion and fall semester review

Thursday, November 29 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., Fellows only event
A visit to the Chandra X-Ray Observatory with Claude R. Canizares, lead scientist for NASA’s flagship mission for X-ray astronomy. Chandra’s satellite-mounted telescope looks at X-rays emanating from celestial objects, rather than visible light, allowing astronomers to study phenomena like density, chemical composition, and temperature.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m, E19-623
William Powers The best-selling author of Hamlet’s Blackberry, Powers describes himself as a writer, a journalist, and a technologist. He joined MIT’s Media Lab in 2014 and works with the Laboratory for Social Machines, where recent projects included mapping publication conversation about the 2016 Presidential election and mapping the spread of false and true rumors on Twitter.

Thursday, December 6, 2018, 4:30-6 p.m., fellows only event

A visit to American Academy of Arts and Sciences for an early look at their project on water security in the age of climate change. The academy, founded in 1780, is situated near Harvard University and convenes leaders from academic, business and government sectors to seek solutions to problems of global security. Mem Early members included George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 4:30-6 p.m.,

A visit to the Broad Institute (fellows only)

Topic: “Partnering with Patients on Cancer Research”

Speakers: Corrie Painter and Nikhil Wagle

Corrie Painter is the associate director of operations and scientific outreach in the Cancer Program of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She leads the Angiosarcoma Project, a nationwide direct-to-patient genomics initiative aimed at generating the genomic landscape of this orphan disease, and she is working to build scientific resources to enable broad-scale rare cancer research across many indications.

Nikhil Wagle is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is the deputy director of the Center for Cancer Precision Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He also directs Count Me In, which launches patient-driven research projects across multiple cancer types. The program’s first project, The Metastatic Breast Cancer Project (, is a nationwide patient-driven research initiative that engages patients with advanced breast cancer through social media and seeks to empower them to accelerate cancer research through sharing their samples and clinical information.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 6 p.m.-8 pm

Holiday Party, fellows only