The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies gives science journalists the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of computer-based, data-driven science with a longer stay at the institute. For the fifth time, the program was announced internationally. Candidates from six continents applied. A committee of science journalists and scientists selected Anil Ananthaswamy (USA/India) as “HITS Journalist in Residence” for 2023.
Indian-American science journalist and author Anil Ananthaswamy will be the next “Journalist in Residence” at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). He will join the institute in April 2023.
Anil Ananthaswamy is an award-winning science journalist and former staff writer and deputy news editor at New Scientist magazine. Currently, as a freelance journalist, he writes for Quanta, Scientific American, New Scientist and Nature, among others. He’s the author of three popular science books, among them “Through two doors at once”, a book on quantum mechanics. He has been a guest editor at the University of California, Santa Cruz’s science writing program and teaches science journalism at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.
Before he switched to science writing, Anil had trained as an electronics and computer engineer at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (BSEE) and the University of Washington, Seattle (MSEE), and was working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley.
In recent years, Anil Ananthaswamy has been drawn to writing about Machine Learning (ML) and computational neuroscience. During his time as MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow he relearnt coding and implemented a deep neural network to predict the future positions of planets. He then completed an online ML certificate program from Cornell University, which inspired him to write a book on the mathematics of ML, tentatively-titled Why Machines Learn. To aid his book, he has written code that illustrates the basic principles of some key machine learning algorithms.
During his stay at HITS, Anil Ananthaswamy plans to link all these activities: “I would like to think deeply about developing modules that combine journalism, coding, algorithms and math”, he says. To this end, he is also interested in learning from the ML expertise in the HITS research groups and in understanding the use of these methods in astrophysics and life sciences.
To date, ten journalists from Canada, Australia, India, the U.S., Spain and Germany participated in the HITS fellowship — which started in 2012 with the award-winning German science journalist Volker Stollorz, now chief editor of the German Science Media Center in Cologne (https://www.sciencemediacenter.de/), an organization run by journalists that provides journalists with what they need.
HITS is a private, non-profit basic research institute. It was founded by the Klaus Tschira Foundation in 2010. At HITS, currently around 130 scientists from 40 countries work in 14 research groups in areas where large amounts of data are produced and processed – from Molecular Biology to Astrophysics. One of the institute’s aims is to make the public more aware of the importance of computer-based, data-driven science, especially in natural sciences.
Dr. Peter Saueressig
Head of Communications
Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS)
The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.