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View a recording of this webinar on YouTube in English, Arabic, French, Portuguese or Spanish


The Knight Center has joined forces with UNESCO and WHO to offer another great opportunity for journalists around the world who want to improve their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. We gathered an outstanding group of science journalists, scientists and other experts who will offer a three-hour webinar, as part of our efforts to help journalists cope with the evolving COVID-19 crises coverage. The webinar will also address ways to combat disinformation.

This program is organized by the University of Texas at Austin’s Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, in partnership with UNESCO, funded by the World Health Organization and UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists.

This event, held in English, will be also be available via simultaneous interpretation to Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. U.S. Central Time (GMT -6) – Find out here the time in your city.

Visit the Knight Center’s COVID-19 Courses & Resources section for more.



9 am: Opening Session

All three panels will be moderated by Deborah Blum, director of MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Program

9:10 a.m.: Panel 1: Disinformation & evolving data. Panelists will help journalists navigate the challenges associated with the inequitable distribution of information, and ever-evolving data, surrounding COVID-19. We’ll hear from: 


10 a.m.: Panel 2: Mutations & variants. Panelists will deepen journalists’ understanding of COVID-19 mutations and variants, along with the changeability of the virus. We’ll hear from:


11 a.m.: Panel 3: Vaccines & medications. Panelists will offer up important, global context for journalists covering new developments about COVID-19 vaccines and medications. We’ll hear from:




Guilherme Canela

Guilherme Canela

Guilherme Canela holds the position of chief of the section of Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. For 8 years, he held the position of Communication and Information Regional Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean at UNESCO Montevideo Office. During those years, he performed as Regional Coordinator of the UNESCO Initiative for the Promotion of Democracy and Freedom of Expression in judicial systems in Latin America. He was also the Secretary of the Regional Committee of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean, and focal point of the Organization for issues related to the safety of journalists.


Gabriella Stern

Gabriella Stern

Gabriella Stern is director of communications at the World Health Organization. Based at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Stern is in charge of the organization’s global communications strategy, manages a team of communications professionals, and serves as spokesperson for the Director-General. Stern joined WHO in March 2019 after more than three years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Based in Seattle, she was the Director of Media & External Relations. Before moving into communications in early 2016, Stern was a journalist. She spent almost 25 years at The Wall Street Journal in various editing and reporting roles in the U.S., London (during which she and her family became naturalized UK citizens) and Asia. Prior to joining the Journal, she worked for the Omaha, (Neb.) World-Herald.


Deborah Blum

Deborah Blum

Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer-prizewinning American science journalist, columnist, and author of six books, including the 2018 New York Times Notable Book, The Poison Squad, and the New York Times best-seller, The Poisoner’s Handbook (2010). Her other books include Ghost Hunters (2010), Love at Goon Park (2006), Sex on the Brain (1997) and The Monkey Wars (1994). She has written for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Scientific American, Discover, and Wired. She is a former president of the National Association of Science Writers, was a member of the governing board of the World Federation of Science Writers, and currently serves on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Blum is co-editor of the book A Field Guide for Science Writers, and in 2015, she was selected as the fourth director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, where she is founding publisher of the award-winning digital science magazine, Undark. 


Davey Alba

Davey Alba

Davey Alba is a technology reporter for The New York Times, based in New York City. She covers online disinformation and its global harms. Most recently, she was a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News, where she wrote about artificial intelligence and tech’s invasive effects on people and communities. And a few years ago, she worked as a reporter for WIRED in San Francisco.




Federico Kukso

Federico Kukso

Federico Kukso is an independent science writer from Argentina. He is a board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists. In 2016, he was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. He specialized in history of science and STS (Science and Technology Studies) at Harvard University. Kukso writes regularly about science, technology, and culture for Agencia Sinc (Spain), La Nación (Argentina), Tec Review (Mexico), Le Monde Diplomatique and El País (Spain). He is the author of many popular books on science and history such as All You Need to Know about Science, Bathrooms Weren’t Always Like This and Dinosaurs of The End of The World. His latest book is Odorama: a cultural history of smell.


Mandi Smallhorne

Mandi SmallhorneMandi Smallhorne is a freelance science journalist in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her major interests are health, the climate crisis, and applied science in fields such as energy, agriculture and water. She is President of the South African Science Journalists Association and Vice-President of the World Federation of Science Journalists.




Jane Qiu

Jane QiuJane Qiu is an award-winning independent science writer in Beijing, contributing to publications such as Nature, Science, Scientific American, MIT Technology Review, The Lancet, and National Geographic. She is a former Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, and has covered wide-ranging topics, from life sciences, conservation, and geoscience to anthropology. Armed with a PhD in cancer genetics and a unique perspective, Qiu has been focusing on the science and the politics of the search for the COVID-19’s origins.



Maria Van Kerkhove

Maria Van KerkhoveMaria Van Kerkhove, PhD is an infectious disease epidemiologist and the COVID-19 Technical Lead at World Health Organization (WHO). Van Kerkhove specializes in outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging pathogens. In addition to her appointment as the COVID-19 Technical Lead, Van Kerkhove is also the Head of the Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Unit within the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. Prior to joining WHO, Van Kerkhove was the Head of the Outbreak Investigation Task Force at Institut Pasteur’s Center for Global Health where she was responsible for establishing public health rapid response teams for infectious disease outbreaks. She was previously employed by Imperial College London in the MRC Center for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling where she worked closely with WHO on influenza, Yellow fever, Meningitis, MERS-CoV and Ebola Virus Disease.


Kai Kupferschmidt

kai kupferschmidt

Kai Kupferschmidt is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine based in Berlin, Germany. He writes about infectious diseases as well as food science, nutrition, evolution and science policy. Kai received a diploma in molecular biomedicine from the University of Bonn, Germany and later visited the Berlin Journalism School. He is the author of a book about the color blue, published in 2019.




Purvi Parikh

Purvi ParikhPurvi Parikh, MD, FACAAI, FACP is an allergist and immunologist at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill. She is currently on faculty as Clinical Assistant Professor in both departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Parikh has published articles in allergy, asthma, and immunodeficiency syndromes in various peer reviewed journals and textbooks. 




Angela Rasmussen

Angela RasmussenDr. Angela Rasmussen uses systems biology techniques to interrogate the host response to viral infection. She has studied a huge range of viral pathogens, from the “common cold” (rhinovirus) to Ebola virus to highly pathogenic avian influenza virus to SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. By combining current classical approaches to modeling infection and pathogenesis with sequencing technology and machine learning, Rasmussen and her colleagues and collaborators have identified new host mechanisms by which viruses cause disease.



Margaret Harris

Margaret Harris

Margaret Harris has spent most of her working life as a communicator, dealing with outbreaks and emergencies in Asia, Africa and Europe. She first trained to be a medical doctor, but then became a journalist, working as a foreign correspondent in Europe and Asia. She decided to study public health at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, in order to apply the skills she had developed working as both a doctor and a journalist to public health risk communication. Since then, Harris has spent much of her time working in risk communication for the World Health Organization and UNICEF, mostly in Asia, Africa and Europe, including during the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016, the Korean MERS outbreak and the global Zika virus outbreak. When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, Harris was recalled to Geneva to act as WHO spokesperson for COVID-19, her current role.

Akin Jimoh

Akin Jimoh

Akin Jimoh, is the Chief Editor at Nature Africa. He is a leader in promoting science and public health journalism in his native Nigeria and across the African continent. He was the first news editor for the World Federation of Science Journalists’ website and played key roles as a mentor and anglophone coordinator (2009 – 2013) in the Science Journalism Cooperation (SjCOOP) Project. Jimoh is a medical physiologist and health promotion/education specialist by training.




Amy Maxmen

Amy MaxmenAmy Maxmen is an award-winning science writer who covers the entanglements of evolution, medicine, science policy and of the people behind research. Her stories appear in Wired, National Geographic and The New York Times, among other outlets. She’s currently based in California as a senior reporter at Nature. Prior to writing, Amy earned a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Harvard University.




Josh Michaud

Josh MichaudDr. Josh Michaud is an associate director for Global Health Policy at Kaiser Family Foundation, where he helps guide and oversee KFF’s research and analysis in the area of global health. Michaud is an authority on a range of global health policy issues including financing, the roles and activities of U.S. agencies and multilateral organizations, health diplomacy, and global health security and emerging diseases. Michaud is also a professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C., where he teaches courses on global health policy, public health and development. In the past, Michaud worked as an infectious disease epidemiologist with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 


Mohammed Yahia

Mohammed Yahia

Mohammed Yahia is the executive editor of Nature Portfolio in the Middle East, which is part of Springer Nature. He joined 11 years ago as the launch editor of Nature Middle East, an online portal that focuses on science and science-related news from the Arab world. He now works with the editorial teams of several publications in the Middle East and Europe, including Nature Italy, Nature Arabic Edition and For Science, the Arabic version of Scientific American. Yahia is also the past president of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) and has been the vice president of the Arab Science Journalists Association for the past four years.



Mallary Tenore

Mallary Tenore

Mallary Tenore is the associate director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication. In this role she oversees the Center’s staff, programmatic work, events, fundraising, and more. She’s also a faculty member in UT’s School of Journalism. She was previously executive director of Images & Voices of Hope (ivoh), a media nonprofit, where she created a reporting fellowship and oversaw event management, community engagement, partnerships, fundraising, and the organization’s website and social media presence. Prior to ivoh, Mallary was managing editor of The Poynter Institute’s world-renowned media news site,, where she edited and reported stories about the media industry. She also taught in Poynter seminars geared toward helping journalists use social media for journalistic purposes. In 2013, she was named one of the top 50 female innovators in digital journalism. In 2012, she was featured on a list of the top 100 Twitter accounts every journalism student should follow and was named a Mirror Award finalist for outstanding media reporting. Mallary’s articles and personal essays have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, The Tampa Bay Times and more.


Rosental Alves

Rosental Alves

Professor Rosental Calmon Alves is the founder and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the School of Journalism at the Moody School of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also the holder of the UNESCO Chair in Communication and the Knight Chair in Journalism. A veteran Brazilian journalist, he moved to Austin in 1996 as the inaugural holder of the Knight Chair after a 27-year career in Brazilian journalism. He is former president of Orbicom, the worldwide network of UNESCO Chairs in Communication, and currently chairs the board of directors of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for Journalism at Columbia University. He is also a member of several boards of organizations related to journalism, such as the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Texas Tribune, the Gabo Foundation (Colombia), Agência Pública and Jornal Nexo (Brazil ) and CIPER (Chile). His three teaching and research areas at the University of Texas are international journalism, especially the work of foreign correspondents in Latin America; Latin American journalism and freedom of the press; and digital journalism.