Current Students

Ashley Junger Photo

Ashley Junger

Ashley grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, her bedroom shelves littered with well worn books and various rocks found while exploring the surrounding creek system. As an undergraduate at DePauw University, she pursued both of these passions, double-majoring in Biology and English Literature. While pursuing her bachelors, she was also an Environmental Fellow, and on the executive board of both the environmental club and the outdoors club. Ashley explored her interests with several internships, researching water purification methods for a non-profit, studying butterfly population dynamics in a Costa Rican nature reserve, and writing about antibiotic resistance for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s magazine. Ashley found she was most engaged when she worked on projects that combined her interest in the natural world with her passion for writing, especially when she could focus on human impacts on the environment.

She looks forward to further developing her science writing skills at MIT, so she can get others as excited about advances in ecology, zoology, and environmental sustainability as she is. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys experimenting with embroidery, hiking, and trying out new recipes.

Timothy (TJ) Dimacali Photo

Timothy (TJ) Dimacali

TJ grew up in Manila, the Philippines, on a staple of vintage comics and classic sci-fi, which instilled in him a lifelong love for literature and science. After graduating with a creative writing degree from the University of the Philippines, TJ found himself pursuing a variety of odd jobs from financial news info editor to cultural commission speechwriter to advertising copywriter. He put this diverse experience to good use when he eventually landed a job as Science and Technology Editor at GMA Network, one of the country’s largest media companies. He managed to secure some accolades along the way, including the Philippine government’s Gawad Scriba Award for Science Communicators. He is also an alumnus of the Asia Journalism Fellowship, the Netherlands Fellowship Program, CERN School Philippines, the Silliman University National Writers Workshop, and the Iligan National Writers Workshop. His sci-fi short stories, which often blend Philippine history and mythology, have appeared in local and foreign anthologies. TJ is attending MIT as a Fulbright scholar—like Dolph Lundgren, only a bit less buff.

Fatima Husain Photo

Fatima Husain

Fatima was born in Houston, Texas but raised in West Des Moines, Iowa, where she spent most of her time caught between writing and gardening. Fascinated by the soil and atmospheric chemistry that affected each season’s roses or hydrangeas, she studied biology and chemistry by day and posted actively in gardening forums by night. She continued her study of nature and its stories at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she performed arctic paleoclimate research for three years while she earned an Sc.B. in Geology-Chemistry. She has published her work in numerous media, including The College Hill Independent, where she served as science editor for two years. Her other works have been published in the Catalyst journal, The Brown Daily Herald, Johns Hopkins University’s Imagine Magazine, the Lyrical Iowa journal, Closed Captioned magazine, and online at When she’s not attempting to germinate avocado seeds in her kitchen or researching geoengineering experiments, she can be contacted at or on Twitter @fatimagulhusain.

Kelsey Tsipis Photo

Kelsey Tsipis

Growing up in Cleveland, OH, Kelsey Tsipis did not always aspire to be a science writer. She was a child with ardent aspirations, prone to ever-changing interests and great immoderation in her passion. It wasn’t until she took her first science journalism class as an undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill that she recognized that science writing perfectly suited her inquisitive disposition. As an undergrad, Kelsey focused primarily on a wide range of public health topics, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, mental health coverage, and research findings from UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University — winning her the North Carolina Medical Society Scholarship for Medical Journalism. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a specialty in Editing and Graphic Design from UNC Chapel Hill, Kelsey worked as a medical editor for an independent, nonprofit global research institute and served on the executive committee of the American Medical Writers Association Carolinas Chapter. Kelsey is now beyond grateful to continue her passion for science writing at MIT with fellow students and professors whom she admires greatly. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @kelseytsipis.

Frankie Schembri Photo

Frankie Schembri

Frankie Schembri was raised on snowy winters and long books in Ottawa, Canada. She began her undergraduate education at MIT in Mechanical Engineering, but realized that she was most excited about explaining what she was learning to her friends and family. Frankie switched to MIT’s undergraduate Science Writing program, where she was able to combine her background in STEM with her love of communication, and graduated with a B.S. in June 2017.

Frankie has worked in an MIT Mechanical Engineering lab, as a communications assistant at the Harvard Kennedy School (reporting on the intersection of technology and democracy), and as an intern at a public relations firm writing content for software companies. Most recently, she was a communications fellow at MIT’s Office of Sustainability, where she reported on efforts to use the university as a living laboratory by testing researchers’ work on MIT campus operations.

Frankie is fascinated by the power of information technology and computing to shape modern life and hopes to report on these subjects in way that is inclusive to all, arming the public with the information necessary to navigate an increasingly technology-driven world. She is electrified by the opportunity to continue strengthening her skills at MIT. Recreationally, Frankie enjoys meeting cats, eating doughnuts, searching for the freshest memes, and watching baseball. She can be reached at fschembr[@] or on Twitter as @frankieschembri.

Heather Mongilio Photo

Heather Mongilio

Heather first declared she was going to be a journalist walking home from the bus stop in fifth grade. She grew up in Ellicott City, Maryland, where she first discovered how fascinating the brain is and the adrenaline high from breaking news. After deciding not to choose between her interests, she earned her bachelor’s degree from American University in journalism and psychology. Heather worked at The Eagle, American University’s student-run newspaper and served as editor-in-chief during her senior year.

Prior to attending MIT, Heather could be found reporting on murder, domestic violence, drunken driving and other crimes as a crime and courts reporter. She’s always been interested in psychology and medicine, but since working as a crime reporter, Heather has discovered her interest in the science of crime, including the psychology behind criminal acts and domestic violence as a public health concern. Heather is a self-described brain lover, and she enjoys chasing a good story, breaking news, reading, baking and watching the Patriots and the Red Sox.

Heather is excited to pursue her dream of being a science/health reporter at MIT. She’s an avid Twitter user, so follow her at @HMongilio for tweets about journalism, science and other observations, or shoot her an email at

Laura Castañón Photo

Laura Castañón

Laura has never managed to be just one thing. While growing up in Needham, Massachusetts, her indulgent parents allowed her to fill their home with collections of insect molts and unidentified bones as well as the deconstructed remains of old TVs and a ship’s radar. She attended Washington University in St. Louis where she earned a first major in theatrical design and technology and a second in environmental studies, while spending her free time performing story-based comedy. After graduation, her job titles ranged from mad scientist to tall ship bos’n to theatrical carpenter and electrician. She has repaired windsurfers, lectured about climate change, built elaborate golden candelabras, and taught preschoolers how to pet a snail.

Laura sees science writing as the perfect intersection of these disparate interests. Her experiences in performance and education have made her a lively communicator and storyteller, and her dual interests in technology and nature make MIT the ideal place to turn those skills into writing.

Laura has two dogs and a gecko to keep her company through her endeavors. The dogs are a constant delight and remind her that hiking is better than working. The gecko reminds her that she is slightly less important than a piece of banana.

Eva Frederick Photo

Eva Frederick

Eva spent the long afternoons of her childhood in Sheffield, England collecting snails from under the rocks at the bottom of her garden. The oldest daughter of an archaeologist and a writer, Eva was raised to value both science and storytelling, and often combined the two. Under her guidance, the snails’ everyday lives became thrilling exploits which she often related to friends, family, or anyone who would listen. These first experiences sparked her interest in communicating her enthusiasm about science and the natural world.

Though still an avid snail fan, Eva’s interests have broadened considerably since her rainy English childhood. Eva went on to major in journalism and biology at The University of Texas at Austin, where she made a brief foray into research, studying bacteria living in honeybees’ guts. Her junior year, she began working at UT’s school newspaper, The Daily Texan, and co-founded the Science & Technology section, later serving as managing editor. Since then, Eva has interned with Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, where she crafted stories about Texas animals and ghost towns, and also with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where she taught kids about bugs, birds, and native plants. In her free time, Eva enjoys hiking, making plant-themed cupcakes, and growing tomato plants in her hydroponic garden.

Eva hopes to use her career to make science more accessible to the public and increase scientific literacy. During her year at MIT, Eva is looking forward to increasing her understanding of science-based policy and learning to make podcasts. You can follow her on Twitter @EvaCharlesAnna, or reach her by email at

Emily Makowski Photo

Emily Makowski

Emily Makowski is a scientist-turned-science-writer from Buffalo, New York. She double-majored in psychology and evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she did research on how moths smell things with their antennae. Emily started out as a biology major, but switched to evolutionary biology after a particularly harrowing organic chemistry class. Her new major gave her the chance to take many lab classes on animal behavior, her favorite subdiscipline of biology. In these classes, she studied museum specimens, went electrofishing, overturned rocks to count salamanders, and observed lions and cheetahs at the zoo in winter (where she wore three sweaters at once and learned that big cats sleep a lot).

Emily is fascinated by scientific discoveries, but she has always loved writing most of all; in fact, her favorite part of lab work was writing lab reports. Toward the end of college, she realized that she was more interested in writing about research than actually doing research. After earning her bachelor’s degrees in 2016, she worked in ophthalmology labs at Cleveland Clinic and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center—which sparked an interest in writing about health and medicine—and freelanced on the side. Now, at MIT, she is preparing to become a full-time science writer. She can be reached at or on Twitter @EmilyRMakowski.

Madeleine  Turner Photo

Madeleine Turner

Madeleine grew up in Los Angeles County, where every day feels like summer. Swapping the SoCal heat for shade under redwood trees, she attended the University of California, Santa Cruz. Through her college years, she spent many hours organizing student-led classes, picking strawberries for an agroecology lab, and learning to hula-hoop (a quintessential Santa Cruz activity). She always identified as an enthusiastic reader, but didn’t discover a love for writing until taking a science communications class in her junior year. After graduating with a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology, she became a social media intern for Sempervirens Fund, a nonprofit focused on protecting redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Today she contributes to Los Gatos Magazine, a local events and lifestyle publication, and Save the Redwoods League’s Giant Thoughts blog, where she writes about redwood science and wildlife. She is thrilled to be part of the MIT Science Writing class of 2019, and looks forward to honing her journalistic skills and expanding the scope of her work.

Diego Arenas Photo

Diego Arenas

After countless hours indulging in science podcasts while toiling away at his own experiments at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Diego cannot believe it took him so long to realize he wanted to take part in creating the types of programs that he so often relished. Conducting research confirmed the passion for science Diego nurtured as a Cell and Molecular Biology major at Cornell University, but it was the wait time between experimental steps that led to the biggest personal breakthroughs. In the quiet sanctuary behind the sterile walls of the laboratory, Diego found he was most excited about learning science and devising creative ways to share what he learned with a variety of audiences.
As a first-generation immigrant from Colombia, Diego understands the importance of spreading information for the progress of societies and the individuals they comprise. He has started sharpening his abilities as a science communicator through his work at the American Institutes for Research by developing assessment items that align to the Next Generation of Science Standards. He looks forward to honing his skills at MIT and exploring different forms of multimedia to find his niche within the field.
In his spare time, Diego is either binging the latest television series, crafting a new project, or running to his current music obsession.

Devi Lockwood Photo

Devi Lockwood

Devi Lockwood comes to science writing from poetry, folklore, and long-distance cycling. For the last four years she has been traveling in 16 countries (about half of that by bicycle) on a mission to record 1,001 audio stories about water and climate change. To date she has collected 750+ interviews, and is working to create a map on a website where you can click on a point and listen to a story from that place. Devi will be launching a podcast (along with artistic / environmental education collaborations) in coming months. You can read her writing in The New York Times, The Guardian, , and elsewhere.

Devi is a 2018 National Geographic Explorer for a project recording stories with ArtCirq, an indigenous Arctic Circus in Igloolik, Nunavut, Canada. In May 2014 she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude from Harvard University where she studied Folklore & Mythology, earned a Language Citation in Arabic, and rowed for the Radcliffe Varsity Lightweight Women’s Rowing team. She loves interviewing scientists and non-scientists, and the many doors a good question can open. You can follow her on Twitter @devi_lockwood, stay up to date with the journey at, or reach her by email at

Brittany Flaherty Photo

Brittany Flaherty

Brittany is a Boston-based science writer and “just-for-fun” blogger who grew up exploring the wooded trails and apple orchards of Harvard, MA. When she recently asked her parents about her career ambitions as a kid, Brittany was told, “You just liked nature and reading.” Not much has changed: from aspiring “nature reader” to budding science writer, Brittany has long loved to explore her surroundings and the power of communication. Delighted to learn that she didn’t have to choose just one of her passions, Brittany studied biology, environmental studies, and English at William Smith College. She began to ardently write about her scientific interests at the nexus of medicine, health, and the environment. After graduation, she moved to Vancouver and conducted Fulbright research that examined emerging challenges for the United States and Canada in managing their transboundary water. Brittany then returned to Boston and has written about cancer biology and research for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since 2012. Brittany is thrilled to join the Graduate Program in Science Writing at MIT, where she hopes to learn more about how best to connect society with science. An avid runner, skier, and yogi, Brittany writes about language and movement on You can reach her at

Emily  Pontecorvo Photo

Emily Pontecorvo

Emily is a writer and multimedia producer from the tri-state area. She grew up spending summers in the Catskill mountains at a YMCA camp with compost toilets and a model forest, where she developed a deep-seated passion for the natural world. She attended Wesleyan University for undergrad, where she jumped around among a series of interests in film, social theory, urban planning, sustainability, and other things. After graduation, she worked in the film industry for several years before pivoting to journalism. Emily is driven by an insatiable desire to learn and a tremendous reverence for those on the frontier of learning: scientists. She is excited to continue her science writing career at MIT, the ideal place to delve into, as Stephen Jay Gould put it, “our current, maddening acceleration toward something new and liberating–or toward the abyss.” She looks forward to reporting on climate change, renewable energy, materials science, wildlife management, and the great mysteries of the ocean and the ways we are changing it. These days she loves telling stories through sound, and feels there’s no equivalent to hearing a good piece of tape.

Gina Vitale Photo

Gina Vitale

Gina Vitale grew up in a town called Phoenixville, where every year a magnificent wooden bird was built, burned, and built again. It was in that town that her high school chemistry teachers graciously allowed her to stay after school to prepare lab materials and type away at her rather unsophisticated novels. After high school she attended Drexel University, where she quickly failed to choose a singular career path – majoring in chemistry, minoring in psychology, pursuing a certification in creative writing/publishing and serving as editor-in-chief for The Triangle. For The Triangle she had the chance to write about gravitational waves, sterile neutrinos, nanodiamonds in batteries, and various other amazing things that she never imagined could exist.

Through her various endeavors as a bench chemist, a student journalist, and a generally curious person, she has realized the need for science to be communicated to the public with the fascination it deserves, minus the elitism and the words that nobody can pronounce. At MIT she hopes to learn more about podcasting, longform writing and anything else that will help her throw sturdy ropes across that communication divide. Ultimately, she aims to become the kind of science writer who can instill the feeling of wonder in others that she first felt in the town that lived to be reborn.

In her free time, Gina is either mumbling the Philadelphia Eagles fight song, soapboxing about the importance of print media, or re-watching the X-Files. She can be reached on Twitter at @GinaCVitale.