The Future of Science Film Fellowship is a program for emerging filmmakers to develop new documentaries about efforts to make science more equitable and inclusive. This project builds on the success of the feature documentary Picture a Scientist, which chronicled stories of bias, discrimination and harassment against women scientists. Our goal now is to launch a new set of films that will amplify the conversation about race, equity and inclusion in science, and spark change in the scientific community.
In this first phase, we selected three emerging filmmakers and will work with them to develop their films. A stipend of $10,000 will be provided, and fellows will participate in a 8-week workshop including mentorship and access to our research team to support story development. The outcome will be professional pitch decks that together we will use to seek major funding for the second phase of the Fellowship.
Throughout the entire process, our emphasis will be on providing access and opportunity for storytellers from historically marginalized communities while creating powerful new films about combating racism in science. The outcome of this effort will not only be a powerful set of unique stories about the future of science, but also a constellation of meaningful relationships among future science storytellers.
Since the release of Picture a Scientist, the film team has been researching new storylines about active attempts to remake the culture of science. Themes that have emerged during this early research include: belonging and identity; bringing one’s whole self to science and education; changing the culture of science by bringing knowledge, interests, and social structures from students’ own cultural backgrounds; students connecting with their traditions within their education after generations of stripping education of tradition; the expectations of mainstream culture that BIPOC students will not excel; how science, knowledge, and education are defined, and questioning these assumptions; and investing in communities and solving local problems.
The Executive Producers for this new project — scientist and science communication expert Dr. Mónica Feliú-Mójer, filmmaker and Columbia journalism professor Duy Linh Tu, and Picture a Scientist co-director Ian Cheney — will guide the process and oversee the business aspects of the productions. The goal is to empower authorship and inspire the creative process for the directors. The initial phase of the fellowship is sponsored by the Science Communication Lab, and supported by the Wonder Collaborative (an initiative of the Science Communication Lab) and Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
Luce Capco Lincoln is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, writer, curator and political educator born in Gainesville, FL. Lincoln’s artwork and writing explores ideas of queer and trans justice, non-binary embodiment, Pilipinx history and intersectional solidarity. For the past 8 years Lincoln worked at the Global Action Project, where he directed programs to create social justice films with LGBQT and immigrant youth. Currently, Lincoln is a founding member of a BIPOC worker cooperative, Shadow Work Media.
Attabey Rodríguez Benítez, Ph.D., is a freelance science writer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2020, she earned a doctorate in chemical biology from the University of Michigan and worked as a AAAS Mass Media fellow producing and writing stories for Science Friday. Currently, she works with SciShow, the YouTube science show, editing, and writing scripts. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @ScienceBey.
Grace Chuang is a mix of all things co-disciplinary: a storyteller, designer, engineer, biologist, and photographer. As Creative & Marketing Manager at Ginkgo Bioworks, she brings stories of synthetic biology to life through creative collaborations, and helps visualize a world where we design with nature to grow products. She is also the art director of Grow by Ginkgo, a long-form illustrated magazine produced with Massive Science.
The three emerging filmmakers selected for the Future of Science Film Fellowship will push new boundaries in exploring the intersection of race, discrimination, and colonialism in science. Their film projects will challenge modern views of scientists by showing both the diverse roots of scientific discovery, as well as a new path forward for change.
The three fellows — Luce Capco Lincoln, Grace Chuang, and Attabey Rodríguez Benítez — will develop original films about the changing landscape of science. Each fellow will participate in an intensive 8-week fellowship with support, resources, and mentorship from leaders in science, storytelling, and filmmaking, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.
A freelance science writer with a doctorate in chemical biology, Rodríguez Benítez began her storytelling journey with the Spanish-language blog "En Arroz y Habichuelas." The blog and her subsequent work as a AAAS Mass Media fellow aimed to make science accessible to everyone; she now works on the YouTube science show, SciShow, editing and writing scripts. In her Future of Science Fellowship project, Rodríguez Benítez plans to explore the contributions of indigenous peoples and others with scientific expertise outside of academia. “My vision for this story is to challenge the traditional definition of a scientist to spark not only change in the scientific community but to highlight the many scientists that break the mold,” she wrote in her winning application.
Capco Lincoln also wants to explore what it means to be a scientist, with his film project focused on a personal story: his mother’s life and career in science. An immigrant to the United States from the Philippines in the early 1960s, his mother, Gloria Capco Lincoln, faced discrimination in the lab that stymied her career in health science. Capco Lincoln now wants to bring her story to life. After graduating from film school, he worked for an educational nonprofit where he helped LGBTQ and immigrant youth tell their stories through film; he is now a founding member of a BIPOC worker cooperative, Shadow Work Media. Through the Fellowship, Capco Lincoln said he wants to return to his filmmaking roots, “exploring the first stories that inspired me—the personal life stories of my parents and grandparents, which I aim to use to analyze social inequity and examples of resilience and survival.”
The question at the center of Grace Chuang’s film project is: What if we could actually change the way that we do science? Inspired by work from feminist scientists and by her own work in design working with biology company Ginkgo Bioworks, chemical engineer Chuang wants to explore how different methodologies can enrich modern research practices. In particular, she wants to explore how learning from nature to design with nature can reimagine the science process. Equity, she wrote in her Future of Science Fellowship winning application, is not “achieved by simply having women, or other marginalized groups existing amongst technology; rather, it is achieved when those marginalized groups design and change the technology itself.”
“We could not be more thrilled to work with Luce, Grace, and Attabey,” says Mónica Feliú-Mójer, an Executive Producer for the Fellowship. “Their unique backgrounds and stories will bring new perspectives that I hope will reframe how we think about the culture and practice of science.”
“Our fellows are exceptionally inspiring and talented,” says Duy Linh Tu, also an Executive Producer for the Fellowship. “These filmmakers are exactly what the world of documentary filmmaking needs right now."
The initial phase of the Future of Science Fellowship is sponsored by the Science Communication Lab, through its Wonder Collaborative initiative, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. The Executive Producers for this new project — scientist and science communication expert Mónica Feliú-Mójer, filmmaker and Columbia journalism professor Duy Linh Tu, and Picture a Scientist co-director Ian Cheney — will guide the process and oversee and work with the fellows to develop their film ideas.
The Science Communication Lab is an innovative non-profit organization dedicated to using multimedia storytelling to engage the public, including educational and scientific communities, in the journey and wonder of science. Joining the team from the Lab are Executive Director Sarah Goodwin and Executive Producer Elliot Kirschner, who are part of the team behind the Emmy-nominated documentary HUMAN NATURE. https://www.sciencecommunicationlab.org/