Distinguished Visiting Journalist Program

About the Program

Cornell University's College of Arts & Sciences's new Distinguished Visiting Journalist Program brings accomplished journalists to Cornell for extended visits. The program aims to recognize excellence in journalism and to provide opportunities for select journalists and the university community to engage with each other. 

While on the Ithaca campus, for periods of two to 12 weeks, the visiting fellows will interact with faculty, researchers and students in a variety of organized and informal settings, such as moderating and/or participating in panel discussions, making guest presentations in classes, exploring research laboratories and special collections, and joining tea or dinner at a residential college. The fellows will inspire and engage with students interested in journalism and the media while learning about the latest research, scholarship and creative works emerging from Cornell.

“The new Cornell Arts & Sciences Distinguished Visiting Journalist Program aims to recognize excellence in journalism and foster meaningful engagement between academia and the media. Students and faculty will have the opportunity to connect with eminent journalists while fellows will deepen their understanding of emerging discoveries and frontline scholarship as they participate in the life of a leading research university.”

~Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences

Distinguished Visiting Journalists may have interests in any disciplinary area in the College including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Candidates for these prestigious appointments will be selected by an internal committee of faculty and staff. Selected fellows will have demonstrated an interest in fundamental research, scholarship and creative works that impact humanity, as well as in mentoring graduate and undergraduate students interested in the field of journalism and the broader media landscape.

The program is funded through a significant endowment from Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 and Barry Zubrow that established the The Jan and Barry Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalism Fellows Fund. The program has received additional philanthropic support from Jay Branegan ’72, Rose Gutfeld Edwards ’78 and the Dr. Guinevere Griest ’44 Fund for Public Engagement in A&S.

Upcoming Events

"Telling Stories about Science": A master class with Natalie Wolchover

March 15, 2022
Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

Natalie Wolchover masterclass

Mutating viruses, nuclear fusion, quantum computing –scientific intricacies seem to make headlines daily, yet successfully communicating such complexities to a general audience can be difficult. On March 15, award-winning science journalist Natalie Wolchover, Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist in the College of Arts and Sciences, will offer a master class on “Telling Stories about Science.”

She’ll explain how she turns discoveries in physics and mathematics into compelling, accurate narratives that engage lay readers and scientists alike. She’ll also share some general principles of good science writing, using examples published at Quanta Magazine, where she is currently a senior writer and editor.

The in-person event is open to the Cornell community and will take place March 15 at 5 p.m. in the Lewis Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall.

Advisory Committee

Selection Process

Currently, the Advisory Committee selects fellowship recipients by invitation only on a rolling basis for up to two fellows per year. 

If you are a working journalist and would like to be considered for a fellowship, please contact Tricia Ritterbusch, Director of Communications for the College of Arts & Sciences.

Expectations of Fellows

Selected fellows are asked to spend between two to eight weeks during either the fall or spring semester. We will work with the fellows to shape the visits to suit their interests and maximize opportunities for engagement. A stipend will be provided during the fellow's time on campus.

Fellows can engage in a range of activities, including, but not limited to:

  • Sitting in or guest lecturing in relevant classes
  • Meeting with researchers and groups of researchers, including time for extended meetings and “shadowing”
  • Teaching an informal masterclass on journalism to undergraduates
  • Engaging in mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students
  • Exploring library collections and research labs
  • Participating on a public panel with faculty on a topic of broad interest
  • A tea or dinner on West Campus with students and faculty
  • Meetings with Cornell Sun student reporters and editors
  • Meetings with campus communicators

Distinguished Visiting Journalist Fellows

Spring 2022

Natalie Wolchover, Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist Fellow

Science Writer, Quanta Magazine

Natalie Wolchover wearing a blck shirt and earrings
Provided Natalie Wolchover

Wolchover has been with Quanta, covering the physical sciences and mathematics, since the magazine’s launch in 2013. Her articles are often syndicated to sites such as Wired, Business Insider, Nautilus, and The Atlantic. Wolchover has also reported for Nature, the New Yorker and Popular Science, among others.

As an undergraduate at Tufts University – where she received a bachelor’s degree in physics -- Wolchover co-authored several papers published in peer-reviewed journals on nonlinear optics. As a science writer, she has covered a wide range of topics in the physical sciences, including particle physics, quantum computing, climate change and gravitational waves.

Her awards include the Science Communication Award from the American Institute of Physics and the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

Fall 2021

Molly O’Toole, Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist Fellow

Immigration and security reporter, Los Angeles Times

Molly O'Toole
Molly O'Toole

O’Toole was one of the recipients of the first Pulitzer Prize for audio journalism in 2020, reporting for an episode of “This American Life.” She has also reported for the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the New Republic, Newsweek and the Associated Press from Central America, West Africa, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia.


Spring/Fall 2020

Marc Lacey, Assistant Managing Editor, The New York Times

Marc Lacey
Todd Heisler/The New York Times Marc Lacey

Lacey has spent more than 20 years at The New York Times, in roles including national editor, foreign correspondent, White House correspondent and editor of the weekend news report. Before arriving at The New York Times, he was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He recently served as a moderator for the fourth Democratic presidential debate, held in October 2019 in Ohio.


Past Events

flag at wall

Move: An Urgent Conversation with Award-winning Immigration Journalists and Authors

Dec. 1, 2021
5 p.m. live and on eCornell 

Three Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters and authors will be on campus Dec. 1 to talk about their work covering immigration, an event hosted by the Distinguished Visiting Journalist program in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Panelists will include journalists Sonia Nazario, Nadja Drost and moderator Molly O’Toole ’09. O’Toole is this semester’s Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist Fellow in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The event will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium of Goldwin Smith Hall, Room 132. The live event is only open to the Cornell community with Cornell ID, but it will be livestreamed on eCornell. Register here to attend virtually.

Illustration of a surgical mask overlaying the White House

Covering COVID: How Journalists Tackled the Biggest Science Story of our Time

April 28, 2021
7 p.m. on eCornell 

Watch here

This hour-long webinar, presented as part of the College’s Distinguished Visiting Journalist Program, features four leading science journalists actively covering this pandemic, moderated by Faye Flam, Bloomberg Opinion columnist and host of the podcast "Follow the Science.”

Panelists include:

These journalists discuss the challenges of writing about ever-changing vaccine developments and variants; of breaking down complex topics like viral spread and making the public aware of health and safety precautions. They also talk about how they handled reporting on forecasts, government policy developments, public misinformation and what the future might bring for all of us.