Seminars & Events

Members of the Class of 2017-18 visit the MIT Media Lab.


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.

The following is the Fall 2018 seminar schedule. The Spring 2019 schedule will be published in December 2018.

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