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.

For purposes of institutional memory, a list of previous seminars can be found at the end of this schedule.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623 (fellows and partners only)
Welcome back: A roundtable for discussing research projects, hopes for the spring semester, and “what I did on the break.”

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 4:30 to 7 p.m., E19-623
An evening with MIT Press, with Gita Manaktala, editorial director, internet studies, communication, and information science; Beth Clevenger, senior acquisitions editor, environment and urbanism; and Jermey Matthews, acquisitions editor, physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
David Kaiser, MIT professor of physics and history of science, author of “How the Hippies Saved Physics” and “Becoming MIT.” A popular perennial speaker at KSJ seminars, he is well versed in making daunting topics like quantum weirdness engaging for nonphysicists.

Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Michael Short, MIT assistant professor of nuclear science and founder of the interdisciplinary Short Lab, which specializes in the challenges posed by deteriorating nuclear reactors. “Reactors are one of the most extreme environments we can create on Earth,” he says.

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018
No seminar; annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science concludes in Austin, Texas.

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Melissa Nobles, MIT political scientist and dean 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, Feb. 27, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Sophia Roosth, Harvard historian of science. She specializes in the profound shifts biology and biotechnology have undergone in the “post-genomic” age.

Thursday, March 1, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Behind the scenes at Undark, the program’s online science magazine, with special emphasis on its acclaimed fact-checking process and its successful social-media and marketing efforts.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. (fellows and partners only)
A visit to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to discuss its new report “The Public Face of Science,” on science and the news media.

Thursday, March 8, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Ari Daniel, who produces digital videos for PBS NOVA in response to the news cycle, finding the science angle in current events. He has reported on science topics across five continents for a variety of national public-radio programs, and he produces live storytelling shows about science, including the Boston branch of Story Collider.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623: POSTPONED
Because of the expected storm, Bina Venkataraman, writer and policy expert, will speak at the May 10 seminar.

Thursday, March 15, 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.” 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Naomi Oreskes, Harvard professor of history of science and a specialist in media coverage of climate change. She is the author of many books, notably “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming,” and “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Dietmar Offenhuber, professor of design at Northeastern, works on urban infrastructures and waste systems, investigating the wealth of information hidden in the things we discard. He is the author of the award-winning monograph “Waste Is Information: Infrastructure Legibility and Governance” (MIT Press) and has published books on urban data, accountability technologies, and urban informatics.

Tuesday-Thursday, March 27-29, 2018
MIT spring break.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Vance Crowe, director of millennial engagement at Monsanto. A former Peace Corps volunteer and public radio spokesman in his 30s, he is leading the company’s efforts to reach young consumers and farmers with its message on GMOs and other issues at the intersection of agriculture and technology.

Thursday, April 5, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Sheila Jasanoff, founder and director of Harvard’s Program on Science, Technology, and Society. An expert on the role of science and technology in law, politics, and policy, she is author or editor of more than 15 books, including “The Fifth Branch, “Science at the Bar,” “Designs on Nature,” and “The Ethics of Invention.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Angela Saini, a 2012-13 KSJ fellow, British journalist and broadcaster, author of “Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong — and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story.”

Thursday, April 12, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Tali Sharot, neuroscientist and director of the Affective Brain Lab at University College London. The lab investigates how motivation and emotion determine everyday decisions, expectations of the future, memory, and our ability to learn. She is the author of the new book “The Influential Mind,” and her 2012 TED talk, “The Optimism Bias,” has been viewed 2 million times.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Patriots Day holiday.

Thursday, April 19, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Tasneem Zehra Husain, theoretical physicist, author, and educator based in Cambridge. An advocate for “a more nuanced, more human paradigm in science writing,” she conducts writing workshops for scientists and is the author of the novel “Only the Longest Threads.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
William Powers, research scientist at the Laboratory for Social Machines at the MIT Media Lab, where he specializes in public-sphere projects like The Electome. A former staff writer for The Washington Post, he is the author of the best-selling “Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Jill Abramson‘s visit is postponed until next year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Hannah Fairfield, the climate editor at The New York Times. She has worked at The Times for 16 years, primarily on data visualization and visual storytelling.

Thursday, May 3, 2018, 3:30 to 5 p.m., E19-623 (Note earlier start time)
Carl Zimmer, science writer for The New York Times, STAT, and other publications, prolific blogger, and the author of many books, including “Parasite Rex,” “At the Water’s Edge,” and the forthcoming “She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., Broad Institute, 415 Main Street, Cambridge
Aviv Regev, computational and systems biologist, director of the Broad Institute’s Regev Lab, and a leader of the Human Cell Atlas project, which aims to create comprehensive reference maps of all human cells.

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Bina Venkataraman, writer and policy expert at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and senior adviser for climate change innovation in the Obama White House. She is at work on a book about long-term thinking in an age of impulse.

Tuesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 17, 2018, 4:30 to 7 p.m., E19-623
KSJ Showcases: The fellows present and discuss their yearlong research projects.

Friday, May 25, 2018 (fellows and partners only)
“Graduation” ceremony with MIT’s president, L. Rafael Reif, and farewell dinner.


Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Kenneth Oye, political scientist and director of the MIT Program on Emerging Technologies (PoET). His work in technology policy has focused on risks associated with synthetic biology, pharmaceuticals, the internet, and nuclear energy. He has published widely on a range of subjects, from the foreign policies of Presidents Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, to the regulation of “home-brew opiates.”

Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Michael Morisy, co-founder of the news site MuckRock, which offers original reporting, commentary, and analysis of public records. A former editor at the Boston Globe, he launched the paper’s technology vertical BetaBoston. He contributed to the New York Daily News’ Pulitzer Prize-winning series on the deadly health conditions of Ground Zero workers.

Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Gernot Wagner, economist, co-director of Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program, co-author of “Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet,” and author of “But Will the Planet Notice? How Smart Economics Can Save the World.”

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m.
A visit to the MIT Media Lab with Emilie Reiser, project lead at the Center for Civic Media, heading the development and implementation of Promise Tracker, a mobile-phone-based data-collection system that enables communities to collect information on issues and monitor the performance of their local governments. She spent three years in Haiti working with humanitarian agencies to integrate technology tools into local initiatives to address gender-based violence and promote community development.

Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Felice Frankel, MIT research scientist and photographer. She is renowned for the aesthetic quality of her science photographs and her ability to communicate complex scientific information in images. Her books include “Visual Strategies: A Practical Guide to Graphics for Scientists and Engineers” and “Picturing Science and Engineering,” to be published in fall 2018.

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Ayanna Thomas, associate professor of psychology and founder of the Cognitive Aging and Memory Laboratory at Tufts University. Her research focus is episodic memory failures, and she is often called to give expert testimony on the limits of eyewitness memory. “Telling the ‘whole truth’ and ‘nothing but the truth’ are at odds with each other,” she told the KSJ fellows last year.

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Mackenzie Brady Watson, literary agent with the Stuart Krichevsky agency in New York City. A former research scientist, she specializes in narrative nonfiction for all ages and has a 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.

Oct. 24 and 26
No seminars this week so fellows can attend the World Conference of Science Journalists.

Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Shannon Brownlee, senior vice president of the Lown Institute, a think tank dedicated to research and public communication to expose failures and injustices in the health care system. She’s the author of the acclaimed book “Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer,” and co-founder of the Right Care Alliance, a grass-roots network of clinicians, patients, and community activists who are advocating for a radically better health system.

Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
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, Nov. 7, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Marc Shotland,associate director of training at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), which aims to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. A network of 145 professors from 49 universities, the lab does research, policy outreach, and training across six regional offices worldwide. A former director of research for the lab, Shotland now teaches staff and external audiences about research design and implementation.

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m. Private event for fellows only.
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, Nov. 14, 2017, 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, Nov. 16, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Gideon Gil, managing editor, enterprise and partnerships, for STAT,  the national news site focused on health, medicine, and scientific discovery. Founded by John Henry, the owner of Boston Globe Media, STAT produces daily news, investigative articles, narrative projects, and multimedia features. Gil, a 2014-15 KSJ fellow, was The Boston Globe’s health and science editor for a decade and had a hand in three Pulitzer Prizes.

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Kevin Esvelt, director of the MIT Media Lab’s Sculpting Evolution group, which invents new ways to study and influence the evolution of ecosystems for the benefit of humanity and the natural world. A developer of the CRISPR system for genome engineering and regulation, he is credited as the first to describe how CRISPR gene drives could be used to alter the traits of wild populations. His efforts to rewrite the DNA of white-footed mice to make them immune to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease were profiled this year in The New Yorker.

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Andrew Revkin, senior reporter for climate and related issues at ProPublica, the independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Revkin, who has been writing about climate change since the 1980s, joined ProPublica in 2016 after 21 years at The New York Times, where he originated and wrote 2,810 posts for the Dot Earth blog.

Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, a site that reports on scientific integrity, fraud, and transparency, keeping track of the hundreds of retractions of papers in science and medical journals. A physician by training, he is Distinguished Writer In Residence at New York University’s Carter Journalism Institute and teaches medical journalism at NYU’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program.

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Paula S. Apsell, senior executive producer of the pioneering science series NOVA and director of the science unit at WGBH Boston. Under her leadership, NOVA has won every major broadcasting award, some many times over. Apsell was a member of the first KSJ class, then known as the Vannevar Bush Fellows, in 1983-84.

Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, 4:30 to 6 p.m., E19-623
Sherry Turkle, founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. A licensed clinical psychologist with a doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard, she writes on the “subjective side” of people’s relationships with technology, especially computers. Her newest book is the New York Times best seller “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.”