Science and Medical Journalism Students and Alumni
Larisa Bennett grew up a Tar Heel fan in Pittsboro, N.C. Following in her parents’ footsteps, she completed her undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. A talk by Alexandra Cousteau her sophomore year inspired her to earn a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a minor in marine science. After taking a semester off to travel solo in Europe, she returned to Carolina to complete a master’s in science and medical journalism. Bennett wants to use her combined degrees to effectively communicate scientific and environmental issues to a non-scientific public. In this way she hopes to inspire and equip people to make informed decisions to protect our imperiled planet.
Jeremiah Murphy received his bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from Sewanee, The University of the South. As an undergraduate student, he supplemented his theatre experience with a wide range of science classes. After Sewanee, Murphy performed stand-up comedy and improv in New York and Los Angeles. Murphy also has worked in public transportation and most recently as a development coordinator at a small liberal arts college in New Mexico. His favorite job so far has been the one year he spent as a stay-at-home dad. As a UNC master’s student in science and medical Journalism, Murphy is working to develop solid journalism skills in order to use comedy to explain complex science stories.
Graduating Class of 2017
Yasmin Bendaas received her bachelor of arts in anthropology in 2013 from Wake Forest University where she double-minored in journalism and Middle East and South Asia studies. As an undergraduate student, she conducted fieldwork in Algeria's Aurès Mountains region that centered on the symbolic meaning, contribution to identity, and reasons for disappearance of traditional facial tattoos among the indigenous Chaouia. Bendaas conducted this research as a student fellow for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Her research was also published in Al Jazeera English, Your Middle East, and The Huffington Post.
As an undergraduate student, Bendaas interned at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust through Wake Forest's Institute for Public Engagement. She continued to work for the Trust after graduation. The Trust is a statewide grantmaker focused on rural health, including access to primary care, diabetes, community-centered prevention, and mental health and substance abuse. Her work there fostered the interest in rural public health that she has today.
As a master's student in science and medical journalism, Bendaas wants to develop her science writing skills and continue to share undertold stories. Her primary research interests remain focused on Algeria.
Rossie Izlar graduated from Appalachian State University in 2013 with a bachelor of science degree in sustainable development. While completing her master’s program, Izlar worked as communications intern for the North Carolina Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation, a health-centered, non-profit incubator in Cary, N.C. She is now an associate producer on the science team at UNC-TV, the state's PBS affiliate.
Izlar, a native North Carolinian, loves swamps, public spaces, pizza and books.
Graduating Class of 2016
After earning his B.A. from Harvard University in 2010 with a double major in history and science (with a specialization in human evolutionary biology) and archaeology, Wilkins worked for nearly two years as reporter for io9, Gawker Media’s science fiction and futurism site. In this capacity, he primarily wrote about science, with a particular emphasis on explanatory features on ongoing news events, background primers on general science topics and research-based pieces on unusual events and figures from the history of science.
In the last two years, Wilkins has worked as a freelance writer, with his work ranging from news briefs for the diabetes patient newsletter diaTribe to TV reviews for The A.V. Club, the pop culture section of The Onion. During his time in college, he gained broadcasting experience as a member of the sports department at WHRB, Harvard’s student radio station. He worked as a features producer and as an announcer, including providing color commentary and play-by-play for three Harvard-Yale football games.
Primarily interested in print storytelling, Wilkins is now working to build the reporting and narrative tools needed both to write incisive breaking news and to craft long-form explorations of topics across the entire scientific and medical spectrum.
Graduating Class of 2014
Courtni Kopietz is a multimedia specialist for the Morgridge Institute for Research, a nonprofit biomedical research institute based in Madison, Wis. Kopietz promotes the science, outreach programs and ideas of the Morgridge Institute through multimedia news and feature stories, social media management, community outreach and web projects. Kopietz also manages and produces the weekly Blue Sky Science video series, a collaboration between the Morgridge Institute and the Wisconsin State Journal.
Kopietz received a B.S. in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. As part of the science and medical journalism master's program at UNC-Chapel Hill, Kopietz reported for stemwire.org through the Journalism School’s Reese Digital News Lab. She produced health and science reports for the campus television news program, Carolina Week, as well as a short environmental documentary for UNC-TV. Kopietz also performed communication work for the NC Foundation for Advanced Health Programs in Cary, N.C.
Lane is a storyteller interested in covering all things science, health and environment for a general audience. He is working as a freelance writer and producer based in Minneapolis.
Lane earned his M.A. from the UNC Science and Medical Journalism Program in 2014 as a Roy H. Park Fellow. His work there focused on coastal issues related to sea-level rise. Prior to that, Lane earned a B.A. in chemistry from the University of Rochester in 2012, and spent a fifth year there studying fiction and storytelling as part of the Take 5 Scholars Program.
Graduating Class of 2013
Patrick Mustain is Communications Manager for Oceana, providing communications support, including editorial and digital media content for Oceana’s U.S. campaigns.
After finishing his enlistment in the U.S. Navy, Patrick began working as a personal trainer, while pursuing an undergraduate degree in kinesiology at the University of Illinois, then a master of public health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and finally a master of arts at the University of North Carolina School in the Science and Medical Journalism Program.
Patrick is a regular contributor to Scientific American’s Food Matters blog. His commentary, “Dear American Consumers,” was the 2013 Scientific American blog of the year, and the highest-read post in Scientific American history at the time of its publishing.
Patrick’s written and digital media work has also appeared in Business Insider, Civil Eats, Grist, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Nashville Public Television, North Carolina Health News, North Carolina Public Television, Upworthy, Weighty Matters, and Yahoo! News.
In 2014, Patrick co-founded NewBodyEthic.org, an organization aimed at reforming the health and fitness industry to make it more inclusive, responsible and effective, by bringing together professionals who are dedicated to providing evidence-based, hype free health advice to consumers.
Some of Patrick’s writing and video work are on his portfolio site at patrickmustain.com.
Graduating Class of 2012
In life after grad school, Izlar has increasingly enjoyed combining her love of writing with her interest in science. She relocated to the mountains of southwest Virginia and works as the communications coordinator for the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab, a program that raises the standard of living of people in developing nations by working with them to find sustainable solutions to agricultural problems. Previously, Izlar spent six months at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, communicating the involvement of the U.S. in the Large Hadron Collider project and contributing to Symmetry magazine.
During her wonderful stint as a Tar Heel, she was the editor-in-chief for the Emmy-nominated Powering a Nation project, 100Gallons. She has also blogged about water for Scientific American. She also received a research fellowship from North Carolina Space Grant to work with the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center to help develop a multimedia boot camp for science communicators.
Before coming to UNC, she earned a degree in applied physics from Appalachian State University, where she researched exoplanet host stars at the Dark Sky Observatory on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Stephanie Soucheray works as a medical reporter covering emerging infectious diseases for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.
Soucheray is a native of St. Paul, Minn. She graduated from St. Olaf College in 2007 with a degree in English and history where she wrote on the history of medicine and the rise of the "man-midwife" (today's OB-GYN) for her senior thesis. After graduation, she worked for the Northfield News and was a production assistant for Minnesota Public Radio, where she worked on "Midmorning with Kerri Miller" and American Public Media's "American RadioWorks." She has written rock concert reviews for The St. Paul Pioneer Press and humorous columns on life as an expatriate for various English publications in Germany. At the end of her first year in the master's program, she was awarded the Maxwell Graduate Scholarship in Medical Journalism. Then, in the summer Soucheray-Grell worked as the writing intern at the Yale School of Medicine. She lives with her two daughters in St. Paul, MN.
Graduating Class of 2011
Carrie Gann is a senior health editor at WebMD in Atlanta. Previously, she was a production assistant for the medical unit at ABC News in New York and wrote for the health section of ABCNews.com.
Gann earned her undergraduate degree from Emory University in 2006, double-majoring in neuroscience/behavioral biology and journalism. As a student at Carolina, Gann worked as an intern for "The Story with Dick Gordon" at WUNC-FM and for CNN's medical bureau in Atlanta.
Anne Frances Johnson runs a small science communications business called Creative Science Writing. With a strong track record in translating complex scientific information into engaging, user-friendly stories, Anne and her team serve a range of clients including academic researchers, professional societies, companies and non-profits. Past projects include designing the award-winning educational game Extreme Event, leading media outreach activities for several large annual meetings and providing strategic guidance and content for major website overhauls. Anne earned her M.A. in science and medical journalism as a Roy H. Park Fellow at UNC and received her B.A. in biology from Smith College. She is a member of the Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism National Honor Society and was awarded the Maxwell Graduate Scholarship and the Peter Lars Jacobson Award in Medical Journalism.
Graduating Class of 2009
Prashant Nair is Media and Communications Manager at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Signed into existence by President Lincoln in 1863, the National Academies are today comprised of four organizations that advise the federal government and the public on matters related to science, engineering and medicine. One of the world’s most-cited scientific journals, PNAS publishes research articles, commentaries, reviews and perspectives on a raft of topics.
Nair was a Pfizer Minority Medical Journalism Scholar and graduated from the science and medical journalism program in May 2009. His writing has appeared in a range of publications, including Nature Medicine, New Scientist, Science and local newspapers and magazines in Chapel Hill. During the summer of 2008, Nair was a science writing intern at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a teaching affiliate of Harvard University, Boston, Mass. He also completed a health reporting internship with North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC in Durham, N.C.
In addition to a Master of Arts degree in medical journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Nair holds a Master of Sciences degree in life sciences from Bharathidasan University, India, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Basel, Switzerland.
Nair’s published articles:
'Walk again' drugs to be tested on people, New Scientist, February 2006
Cocaine-triggered brain changes reversed in rodents, New Scientist, April 2006
Graduating Class of 2008
Kelly Rae Chi is a proposal writer at PRA Health Sciences, a global clinical research company headquartered in Raleigh, N.C. She works with a team of experts to gain new business from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, by developing strategic documents that describe the operational and scientific approaches underlying clinical trial conduct. Before working at PRA, she spent 10 years as a freelance science writer. Kelly’s work has appeared in Scientific American, The Scientist, Nature journals, and other publications, and she has worked with university press offices, foundations, advertising agencies and other types of clients to develop clear, engaging stories about science. Kelly graduated from the Medical Journalism Program in 2008 and was science writing fellow at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and a Roy H. Park Fellow. She also has a master’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she studied the brain’s role in detecting hypoglycemia. Kelly resides in Cary, N.C., with her husband, two children, dog, and two cats.
Maggie David Holley
Maggie David Holley is the owner and founder of Maven Science and Medical Communications, a content strategy and development business that helps life sciences companies tell stories that sell their science.
A native of the Philippines, Holley graduated in May 2008 from the UNC medical journalism program. She was the third recipient of the Pfizer Minority Medical Journalism Scholarship and the first international student to enter the program.
Holley worked previously as a science writer for the Duke Clinical Research Institute, a science writer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a freelance writer for several business and consumer publications. She now manages the efforts of a team of science writers with complementary expertise who collaborate on projects.
Holley holds a special interest in public health issues involving women, minorities, and the mentally ill. In 2004, a piece she wrote on cervical cancer incidence among Filipinos earned her a travel grant from the Australian Embassy, which sent her on a trip to Sydney so she could learn more about developments in the field of women's health.
She resides in Chapel Hill, N.C., with her husband Lester and stepson Naji.
Julia Connors Soplop is a writer, documentary-style photographer and designer. She is the founder and owner of Calm Cradle Photo & Design.
Soplop was a Roy H. Park Fellow and graduated from the Medical Journalism Program at UNC in May 2008. She focused on maternal and child health, writing her master's thesis on the medical and ethical issues surrounding preterm birth and low birth weight.
A Minnesota native, Soplop received her B.A. in French Studies in 2004 from Duke University. She has held internships at National Geographic, Duke Magazine and the Summit Daily News, and her writing and photos have appeared in several other publications, including Skiing Magazine and The Chapel Hill News. Soplop also holds an interest in environmental issues and animal behavior. She has conducted primate behavioral research in Madagascar and studied sea turtle conservation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Soplop moved to Chapel Hill after spending two years in New York City working for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, where she managed grants, wrote features on grantee organizations and photographed Komen's New York City Race for the Cure.
Following graduate school, Soplop worked as a market analyst for RTI International, where her work focused on international health, particularly in Africa. She developed feature articles and marketing materials, conducted market research and wrote USAID proposals for the organization's international development group.
Soplop lives in the woods outside Chapel Hill with her husband and three young daughters. Her newest challenge has been embarking on the homeschool life this year with her girls.
Sarah Whitmarsh is the Communication Manager for Advance Family Planning (AFP), an advocacy initiative that works to improve access to contraceptives for women and girls in developing countries. She leads internal and external communications for AFP, which is part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her work supports the efforts of family planning advocates in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.
After graduating from the Medical Journalism program as a Roy H. Park Fellow in 2008, Whitmarsh lived in London for two years, working in an education-focused research center associated with the School of Pharmacy, University of London and the International Pharmaceutical Federation in The Hague, Netherlands. There she developed an interest in international health, returning to the U.S. in 2010 to pursue a career in global health writing in Washington, DC.
A native of Savannah, Ga., Whitmarsh attended the University of Georgia in Athens, where she received her bachelor's of science in microbiology in 2006. She currently resides in Baltimore.
Graduating Class of 2007
Yasmeen Khan is a reporter covering education and youth for WNYC in New York, the nation's largest public radio station. Her work has focused on deep-dive, immersive storytelling, including covering school segregation in New York City, transgender children, students at risk of dropping out of high school and gender equity issues for teenage girls. Her work has won awards from the National Headliner Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Awards and Public Radio News Directors Incorporated.
She is a North Carolina native and got her start in public radio at WUNC. Yasmeen has also held jobs as a bartender, toll collector and dish washer.
Molly Kramer is the Founder & Creative Director of Model Content, a boutique content marketing firm focused on science, healthcare, tech, and policy.
Molly received a B.S. from New College at the University of Alabama, designing a depth study in Scientific Writing & Philosophy of Science. As a Roy H. Park Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill, she worked at Park Library while completing her M.A. in Medical Journalism. She focused on healthcare administration and policy, writing her thesis on immigration and hospital funding in post-Katrina Louisiana.
After graduation, she covered environmental policy under the Bush and Obama administrations as an associate editor for Inside Washington Publishers. She specialized in Superfund clean-ups, Clean Air Act policy, and climate change. She then worked as a freelance reporter and copy editor for clients such as the AP, AFP, and Congressional Quarterly.
Since transitioning to communications, Molly has served as head writer for a Medicare Advantage company, then communications manager for a good-government think tank, before starting her own firm. She serves as a reviewer for the APHA’s Global Public Health Film Festival. She lives in New Orleans with her family and marches in a Mardi Gras krewe.
Kate Vidinsky is currently a senior public information representative at the University of California, San Francisco. There she handles media relations and communications for UCSF Children's Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics. Vidinsky works closely with major regional and national news outlets to inform the public about new research and clinical advances in pediatric care.
Previously, Vidinsky worked in communications at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Menlo Park, Calif., a national health philanthropy dedicated to providing information and analysis on health issues to policymakers, the media and the general public. Her work at Kaiser focused on communications related to HIV/AIDS, women's health policy and public opinion research.
She was a Roy H. Park Fellow who received a master's degree from the medical journalism program in May 2007.
A native Hoosier, Vidinsky received her bachelor's degree in clinical and experimental psychology from Indiana University in 2003. During her years at IU, she conducted independent research on the behavioral and social impairments related to the onset and persistent use of marital violence.
After graduation Vidinsky moved to New Haven, Conn., where she worked as a research assistant at the John B. Pierce Laboratory and Yale University School of Medicine. There she conducted psychophysical sensory neuroscience research, specifically focused on the brain mechanisms responsible for perceiving sensations of temperature and pain. She has presented her findings at an international conference of the Society for Neuroscience and co-authored papers in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Behavioural Brain Research.
It was Vidinsky's interest in communicating about science and medicine through the mass media that brought her to UNC. She says that she hopes her work will contribute to a greater understanding of current scientific research and an increased awareness of important medical issues.
Graduating Class of 2006
Subhashni D. Singh Joy is an Associate Director for PRA Health Sciences in Raleigh, N.C. She manages a team of 13 writers who develop documents outlining study-specific strategies for clinical trial execution.
Joy was the first recipient of the Pfizer Minority Medical Journalism Scholarship. She graduated from the medical journalism program in May 2006. During her second year at UNC, she worked in the communications department at the UNC School of Public Health as well as at AlphaMed Press, which publishes two journals. After graduation, she continued working for AlphaMed Press as the production coordinator for the peer-reviewed journal, Stem Cells. She also worked as a freelance writer for a variety of clients, including the American Journal of Nursing.
Joy received her bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Virginia in 2001. After graduation, she moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for the Cosmetic Ingredient Review as a scientific analyst/writer. There, she compiled research and wrote safety assessments on ingredients in cosmetics, which were used to make recommendations to the cosmetic industry.
Graduating Class of 2005
Will Alexander is currently the director of communications for the Duke Department of Neurology. Alexander has previously worked as a writer and editor for a Chapel Hill-based nonprofit specializing in reproductive health, and as a medical writer for a medical-education startup in Cary. He is also the co-author of a best-selling women’s health textbook.
Alexander earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 2000. His interests and areas of expertise include women’s health, how and why people smoke cigarettes, epidemiology, and infectious diseases. He also enjoys traveling, cooking and film. He lives with his wife Jessica and dog Clara.
Jeremy Ashton has worked in the Office of Communications for the South Florida Water Management District since November 2008. The regional government agency operates the flood control system and manages water supply for more than 8 million people from Orlando to the Florida Keys. The District is also partnering with the federal government to restore America’s Everglades, the largest environmental restoration project in U.S. history. Ashton has a wide range of writing responsibilities with the District, including writing content for the agency’s website and managing its social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter.
A native of Edenton, N.C., Ashton graduated in 1997 from the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. In 2002, he received a B.S. in biochemistry from N.C. State University, where he also minored in journalism and covered sports for the student newspaper, Technician.
Ashton was a reporter for the Lincoln Times-News in Lincolnton, N.C., for a year before being accepted to UNC's medical journalism program and being named a Roy H. Park Fellow. After successfully completing the program, he spent three years primarily as a government reporter for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, based in Stuart, Fla. His work experience also includes a two-month health reporting internship at WUNC-FM in 2005.
Sonya Sutton is the communications specialist for the UNC Center of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP). She completed the medical journalism program in May 2005. She was a Roy H. Park Fellow and graduate research assistant on the Teen Media project for both years of the program.
Sutton coordinates all external and internal communication activities for HPDP, which includes creating a communications and marketing plan for the Center, as well as creating digital and print content, a quarterly newsletter and tracking researchers' accomplishments and activities for reporting to stakeholders. She also works to create engaging marketing materials to share with policymakers and research audiences. She also coordinates all webinar and distance learning activities for the Center and supervises several student interns each year.
Sutton received a BSPH in health policy and administration (now health policy and management) from UNC in May 2000. After graduation, she worked at RTI International, where she served as project manager for the RTI-UNC Evidence-based Practice Center. She co-authored several evidence reviews for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, as well as reports on determining disability in speech and language disorders, management of bronchiolitis, CBPR, health literacy, and rating the strength and quality of scientific evidence.
Her interests include knowledge management in research settings, community-engaged research and developing stories that help people better understand health research.
Graduating Class of 2004
Amanda Crowe, M.A., M.P.H., runs IMPACT Health Communications, LLC. Throughout her career, she has gained practical expertise in strategic health communications, material and program development that aims to educate and impact consumer health behavior and perceptions, media advocacy, coalition building, health messaging and market research. She is also contributing writer or editor for a number of online health toolkits, newsletters and print publications.
Crowe earned her M.A. in medical journalism as a Park Fellow in 2004 and an M.P.H. in 2005, both at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been retained by a number of organizations to develop educational materials, conduct market research (e.g., focus groups, field-testing of materials), provide counsel on programming and media outreach, and advance the visibility of key health issues and initiatives. Her interests are in maternal and child health, infectious diseases, oncology, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, pain management and preventive medicine. Her client base predominantly comprises non-profit health organizations and associations.
Before attending UNC, Crowe worked at Cooney Waters Group, a medical/health marketing communications firm based in New York City. In this capacity, she handled such issues as patient-physician communications, HIV drug resistance, disparities in childhood immunizations, meningitis on college campuses, data publicity, primary nocturnal enuresis and influenza and tetanus vaccine shortages. Through her work, Crowe secured important media placements and built alliances with nonprofit health organizations, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies.
Previously, Crowe served as a communications director for the American Cancer Society New England Division where she managed and executed all internal and external communications, including extensive media relations, large-scale public awareness campaigns and crisis communications efforts for the state of Connecticut. In addition, she managed all content and material development including patient education brochures, Web site copy, speeches, presentations, as well as the launch of two targeted newsletters.
Crowe is a member of the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Medical Communicators and the Health Care Marketing and Communications Council. She graduated magna cum laude from Duke University with a bachelor of arts in Psychology and concentrations in Markets & Management and Television & Film Studies.
She is based outside of New York City.
Meaghan Hannan Davant
Meaghan Hannan Davant is the Deputy General Counsel of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in Washington, DC. ACOG is an organization dedicated to the advancement of women's health care through continuing medical education, practice, research and advocacy.
Prior to ACOG, Davant was an intellectual property litigator with WilmerHale LLP in DC. In her previous career, Davant was an Associate Producer with CBS News Productions in New York City, where she produced news segments for the CBS Nightly News, 48 Hours and 60 Minutes, as well as political and historical documentaries for the History Channel’s 20th Century with Mike Wallace.
Davant received her law degree, cum laude, from Duke University School of Law, where she served as the notes editor for the Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law. She was also a Roy H. Park Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she earned a master's degree in medical journalism. At UNC, Davant also served as a teaching assistant for various courses, including courses focusing on the First Amendment and the intersections between journalism and law. Davant received her B.A. from Princeton University. She lives on Capitol Hill with her husband, two children, and goldendoodle “Leo.”
Zuiker is director of communications for Duke University’s Department of Medicine, where he is leading several efforts in narrative medicine. He lives in Carrboro, N.C.
Zuiker earned his master’s degree in medical journalism at UNC, where his thesis reporting project was a 12,000-word narrative magazine feature on a rise in HIV among college students in North Carolina.
A longtime blogger and an early adopter of social media, Zuiker was co-founder of ScienceOnline, an organization that gathered scientists, journalists, and others for demonstrations, discussions and debates about science on the Web. During his graduate studies, he organized a “Weblogs and Journalism” seminar for N.C. journalists, the UNC “Narratives of HIV” series of media awareness events, and the Triangle Bloggers Conference. He also has organized events around food blogging, storytelling, and community building.
Anton spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, where he organized a multi-island solar electrification project.
Learn more about Anton at antonzuiker.com.
Graduating Class of 2003
Joy Harrington (née Buchanan) is vice president at Knighten Health, a medical education company, where she manages all operations and develops digital content and CME products for health care professionals including mobile apps. Prior to Knighten, she was vice president, editorial operations at Millmark Education, where she oversaw the content production and digital delivery of science education materials for grades three through eight.
She was managing editor for HealthCentral.com, managing the development and delivery of content for more than 30 websites on chronic health conditions. Harrington was the consumer health reporter and columnist at The Tennessean in Nashville. Shortly after graduating from UNC, she was the health and health care business reporter for the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., where she won an Excel award for her reporting on the rising rates of HIV among young, black women in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. She also was part of the team that won a Virginia Press Association award for its reporting on the cost of being poor in Hampton Roads. Buchanan reported and wrote the piece about the cost of health care for poor people and for those who lacked insurance.
Harrington got her B.A. in English from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Gretchen Decker is managing editor for the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, a quarterly academic journal published by the American Sociological Association.
Decker graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2003 with a master's degree in medical journalism. She was a Park Fellow and received the Kathryn M. Cronin Academic Scholarship in Medical Journalism while at UNC.
Decker produced, wrote and edited a 30-minute documentary on mental health care reform in North Carolina for her master's thesis. The project looked at the history of mental health reform in the United States and the potential drawbacks to a plan for state reform that calls for the privatization of the mental health care system in North Carolina. The documentary aired in three parts on North Carolina public television.
While an intern, Decker produced two mini-documentaries for statewide public television. The second looked at new research out of UNC that linked where people live to how healthful their eating habits are. The piece won first place for in-depth reporting in the student competition of the southeastern chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
One week after graduating from UNC, Decker started working as an associate producer at WCNC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte. WCNC-TV is a top-30 market station that brings the best local news to the Charlotte area. The station's fast-paced newscasts emphasize breaking news and have won numerous journalism awards.
Decker is a graduate of Carleton College, where she received a bachelor of arts in history in 1995.
Graduating Class of 2002
Steve Baragona currently reports on food and agriculture for a developing-world audience of approximately 120 million at the Voice of America in Washington, D.C.
He began his career as a lab rat. After almost eight years working in biotechnology and basic research labs, Baragona discovered writing about science was much more satisfying than doing it. He enrolled in the inaugural class of UNC's master's program in medical journalism and graduated in May 2002.
While in graduate school, Baragona caught the radio bug working at North Carolina Public Radio WUNC. He won awards from Public Radio News Directors and the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication for pieces that aired on WUNC.
He also spent four and a half years as communications and public affairs officer for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, a professional organization representing physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases.
Dan Childs is managing editor for health and medical coverage for ABC News in New York City. Prior to this, he led the ABC News digital health team as health editor of ABCNews.com. He completed the UNC master's program in medical journalism in 2002. In 1999 he received a B.S. in biology with a minor in journalism from Wake Forest University.
In more than a decade of work as a medical journalist, Childs has produced medical news for print, broadcast and Internet venues. During his two years in the medical journalism program, Childs wrote medical news reports for MedMinute, a Duke University radio program, and assisted with Carolina Week, the UNC-Chapel Hill student-run television news program. Thanks to the medical journalism program, he was able to secure a summer position with the ABC News Medical Unit as a medical news researcher, gathering content for ABC's World News Tonight and Good Morning America. This summer job paved the way for his current position at ABC News.
Prior to joining ABC News, Childs was based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as editor and host of Cosmetic Surgery and Beauty, a tripartite media effort comprising a magazine, television program and website. The magazine and television show, which were the first of their kind in Asia, aimed to educate and inform Asian audiences on trends, issues and techniques in aesthetic surgery.
Before entering the medical journalism program at UNC-Chapel Hill, Childs was staff writer for The Daily Courier, a 12,000-circulation daily newspaper in Rutherford County, N.C. During his tenure as a Courier reporter, he covered the health, hospital and environmental beats; reported on city and county government; wrote a weekly column; and produced photos for the Courier as part-time photographer.
Childs resides with his wife Rina in Manhattan.
Tania Zeigler is the director of Digital Planning for Kaiser Permanente’s Digital Experience Center. In her role, Zeigler works to create highly engaging and personalized experiences for healthcare consumers in Colorado and Hawaii. As a leader, Zeigler is highly attuned to the needs and concerns of her colleagues, team members and customers. She is a coach and mentor who listens intently and helps people tap into and unleash their purpose and potential.
Zeigler was appointed by the Governor of Colorado to serve on the State’s e-Health Commission, a team of leaders charged with developing and leading the execution of a 5-year Health IT Roadmap, which will advance health information technology in the State of Colorado.
Prior to her current role, Zeigler was the senior director of Customer Experience for Kaiser Permanente Colorado, where she led customer experience strategy, analytics and operations for 7 years. Zeigler also served in a variety of other roles, in Service Quality, Corporate Communications, Public Relations and Member Communications. Before joining Kaiser Permanente, Zeigler was a media relations specialist for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Zeigler is a lifelong consumer advocate and works tirelessly to ensure patients and their families feel cared for when they are not well, and to simplify people’s experiences with getting the care and coverage they need.
Zeigler has a master's in medical journalism and a bachelor’s in bacteriology and violin performance. She was honored by the Denver Business Journal as one of the Outstanding 2015 40 Under 40 Leaders. Zeigler enjoys volunteering and supporting her community, serving on the boards for Colorado Public Radio and Metro Volunteers. Zeigler’s favorite pastimes are yoga, gabbing with friends, and family ski days with her husband, Kenneth, and sons Phoenix and Griffin.