Science CommunicationNature Marsilius Visiting Professorship

The visiting professorship for science communication, established in the winter term 2018/2019, is a joint initiative of the Veranstaltungsforum of Holtzbrinck Berlin, the Klaus Tschira Foundation (KTS) and Ruperto Carola.

With KTS funding, experts are invited to impart in a specialised programme what constitutes high-quality reporting on scientific work and findings. At the same time, they are encouraged to initiate a broad-based discussion on new forms of exchange between science and the public.

With the establishment of the professorship, the three partners hope to sharpen awareness of the growing importance of good science communication. The visiting professorship is intended to aid society in shaping the future through science in the face of increasingly complex research.

Springer Nature Visiting Professorship, signing the contract

A champion of excellent science communication and quality journalism is usually appointed as a guest professor each semester. Along with the furtherance these aims, young researchers are also trained to better communicate their research and findings to the public. The Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship is located at the Marsilius Kolleg of Ruperto Carola, which serves as a bridge between the scientific cultures in Heidelberg.


Sixth Nature MARSILIUS Visiting Professorship: Michele Catanzaro

Michele Catanzaro (Rome, Italy, 1979) is a science journalist, lecturer, and author, based in Barcelona (Spain).

He studied physics at the Sapienza University (Rome) and the Technical University of Catalonia (Barcelona) where he earned his PhD with a dissertation on complex network theory.

Since 2001, he has been working as a freelance journalist, writing mainly about science, environment, health, technology, science policy, and academic freedom as well as on justice and forensics. His articles were published in journals and newspapers such as Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, Repubblica.it, and Le Scienze. He held various positions in the field of science communication, such as the director and script writer for RTVE (the Spanish public television) and BarcelonaTV and press officer of the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Barcelona. In addition, Michele Catanzaro is the co-author of the book „Networks: A Very Short Introduction“ (2012) and of the documentary „Fast Track Injustice: The Óscar Sánchez Case“ (2014).

Michele Catanzaro's work has been recognized i.a. by the King of Spain International Journalism Prize, the European Science Writer of the Year 2016 Award, the Holtzbrink award, the Prismas Award, and the Golden Nymph Award 2015.

Michele Catanzaro teaches and mentors students in science communication at undergraduate and masters levels, at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Vic University (UVic) and Valencia International University (VIU).

Porträt Michele Catanzaro


The 6th Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship kicked off with a fireside chat on 3 July 2023.

Public Lecture

Exhausting our critical thinking
Science journalism against misinformation and for democracy

Tuesday, 25 July 2023, 7 p.m., Great Hall, Old University

“The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” This is how chess champion and activist Garry Kasparov describes one of the challenges of contemporary media. The most detrimental effect of misinformation is not merely the belief in "fake news", but rather the erosion of trust in reliable news. This challenge to democracy is particularly relevant in the realm of science, in times of pandemics and climate change. However, it is not a new one. Science journalism has grappled with it since the days of the first news pamphlets, where one can already detect a tension between rigor and bias. Fast-forward to modern science journalism and the same tension still persists, in the shape of a complex machinery of agenda-setting. Social networks and Artificial Intelligence bring this tension to a whole new level. Throughout history, reliable science journalism has proven to be the best defense against misinformation - even today, in the midst of a crisis in the media ecosystem. How do we foster high-quality science journalism? How can we uphold journalistic values in a changing media landscape? How do we help audiences in shifting from a diet of junk information to a healthier one?


Course 1


Target group: MA-students, PhD candidates, Postdocs, Professors
Tue., 04.07.2023, 9am – 1pm
INF 130.1, Lecture Hall 00.101

In this workshop, we will explore a set of criteria and practices that define outstanding science journalism. This is a toolbox that is useful both for reading and for producing science journalism. On the one hand, it allows us to improve our critical eye when reading. On the other, it serves as a guide when working on a journalistic story. We will familiarize ourselves with the criteria developed within the PerCientEx project (Periodismo Científico de Excelencia) and expanded in the ENJOI project (Engagement And Journalism Innovation For Outstanding Open Science Communication). Then, we will use those criteria to critically analyze a set of examples of science journalism.

Course 2


Target group: MA-students, PhD candidates, Postdocs, Professors
Wed., 05.07.2023, 9am-1pm
INF 130.2, Lecture Hall 00.200

In this workshop we will analyze examples of effective and ineffective texts aimed at communicating research to a general audience. We will share tips and tricks on effective science writing, and finally, work in groups on translating a technical paper or report into an effective text that addresses a general audience. Participants can send proposals of papers and reports drawn from their research area, to be worked on in the workshop by 26th June at 6pm (email address: nm-gastprofessur@mk.uni-heidelberg.de )

Veranstaltungsplakat zur Nature Marsilius Gastprofessur 2023 - Michele Catanzaro

Course 3


Target group: PhD candidates, Postdocs and Professors
Tue., 11.07.2023, 9am – 1pm
Tue., 18.07.2023, 9am – 1pm
INF 130.1, Seminar Room 01.105

In this workshop, we will explore how scholars can prepare themselves for interacting with the media, by identifying the aspects of their research that have journalistic relevance, and effectively communicating these aspects through oral communication (such as interviews, short talks, and more). This is an applied workshop in which participants will have the opportunity to explain their own research and work on improving their oral communication skills.

Course 4


Target group: MA-students, PhD candidates, Postdocs
Wed., 12.07.2023, 9am – 1pm
INF 130.1, Seminar Room 01.105

This workshop aims to provide a quick and practical immersion into some of the key skills of science journalism. It is targeted towards those who want to start in the field, with little or no previous experience. We will discuss, among other topics: where to find stories and sources, how to approach media outlets, what platforms and tools can help with the job, key questions to ask, different paths to enter the field, funding opportunities for high-quality projects, and the challenges of working in this area. Participants will have the opportunity to simulate the process of pitching a story to an editor and receive feedback.

Course 5


Target group: PhD candidates, Postdocs and Professors
Wed., 19.07.2023, 9am – 1pm
INF 130.2, Lecture Hall 00.200

Informing about risks and benefits is a crucial task of science journalism (and science communication in general) because it responds to some of the key questions audiences have on science. In this workshop, we will go through some of the principles of good risk communication, found through evidence-based research on the topic. We will also discuss examples of successful and failed risk communication in the media, exploring the critical points of the process.

Course 6


Co-instructor: Frank Albrecht (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation)
Target group: BA-students, MA-students, PhD candidates, Postdocs and Professors
Thu., 27.07.2023, 11am – 1pm
INF 130.1, Lecture Hall 00.101

In this session, Michele Catanzaro will tell a series of stories he has investigated of scholars facing challenges to academic freedom in Iran, Ecuador, Turkey, Ukraine, and other countries. He will also trace a landscape of the efforts of the scientific community to act on human right issues. Frank Albrecht, from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Philipp Schwartz Initiative) will expose the initiative and elaborate on the criteria and ideas that inspire their action on academic freedom. Participants will be encouraged to share their stories, questions, and proposals related to science and human rights. The aim of the session is to increase students and scholars’ awareness of the issue and provide them with ideas and tools to take action on the topic.


For Registration