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For Immediate Release: June 21, 2022

Media Contact: Morgan Hopkins | [email protected]

In partnership with MIT, STAT fellowship recognizes and supports early-career U.S. science journalists from underrepresented backgrounds

BOSTON — STAT, the nation’s must-read health, science, and medicine publication, and the Knight Science Journalism Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), today announced Ambar Castillo and Brittany Trang are the 2022-2023 recipients of the Sharon Begley Science Reporting Fellowship. Named in honor of Sharon Begley, an award-winning science writer for STAT, who died in January 2021 at 64 from complications of lung cancer, the one-year fellowship was established last year with the goal of diversifying the ranks of science and health journalists and fostering better coverage of science that is relevant to all people.

Before joining STAT, Ambar Castillo was a Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellow at the Washington City Paper. She earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies at Boston University and an M.A. in Spanish-language journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she concentrated on health/science reporting. A Fulbright India research scholar, she researched complex human relationships, worked with StoryCorps, and at hyperlocal newspapers in the Bronx. Castillo has also worked with international communities in the health, education, and theater spheres from Brooklyn to Boston.

Brittany Trang, a scientist and writer, most recently was an American Association for the Advancement of Science Mass Media Fellow at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Chemical & Engineering News, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Chemistry World. Brittany has an undergraduate degree in chemistry and English from Ohio State University and before starting the fellowship, expects to complete her chemistry Ph.D. at Northwestern University, where she has developed PFAS remediation methods.

“Both Ms. Castillo and Ms. Trang bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the STAT newsroom,” said Gideon Gil, a managing editor at STAT. “We are incredibly excited to have such amazing talent join our team. We look forward to helping them grow as health and science journalists as they continue Sharon’s extraordinary legacy.”

The fellowship prepares early-career U.S. journalists from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the profession for a successful career in science journalism. It combines a paid reporting position at STAT with an educational component provided through the Knight Science Journalism program. The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative provided $225,000 to support the first two years of the program.

After completing her fellowship, the inaugural Sharon Begley Fellow, Isabella Cueto, was hired by STAT to report on chronic diseases.

Begley, STAT’s senior science writer, was one of the nation’s finest science journalists and was known for her enthusiasm for mentoring and teaching the next generation. She was especially eager to help other women advance in a profession that, when she began as a researcher at Newsweek in 1977, was unwelcoming. She later worked at The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, before joining STAT at its founding in 2015. Her legacy includes her powerful advocacy for people of color, exemplified by a series she wrote in 2016 and 2017 about the neglect by scientists, government funders, drugmakers, and hospitals of patients with sickle cell disease, who in the U.S. are predominantly Black. This fellowship pays tribute to her outstanding career while paving the way for the next generation of science journalists.


About STAT

Founded in 2015, STAT is a digital media company that focuses on delivering fast, deep, and tough-minded journalism about the life sciences to over 8 million monthly site visitors and an additional 20 million readers on the Apple News app. STAT takes you inside academic labs, biotech boardrooms, and political backrooms, casting a critical eye on scientific discoveries, scrutinizing corporate strategies, and chronicling the roiling battles for talent, money, and market share. With an award-winning newsroom, STAT provides indispensable insights and exclusive stories on the technologies, personalities, power brokers, and political forces driving massive changes in the life sciences industry — and a revolution in human health.

STAT’s main newsroom is located in Boston, and it also has reporters in Washington, D.C., New York City, Cleveland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

About MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program

The Knight Science Journalism Program, founded in 1983, is dedicated to advancing science journalism in the public interest. It has hosted more than 300 science journalism fellows from around the world; publishes Undark, an award-winning digital magazine; and offers training programs on topics ranging from science editing to fact-checking, with the goal of nurturing and enhancing the ability of journalists to accurately and thoughtfully illuminate science and its intersection with human culture.

About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our local communities. Our mission is to build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit