Laber-Warren and Malek To Become the J-School’s Next Tow Professors

  • By Amy Dunkin

Emily Laber-Warren, director of the Health & Science Reporting Program, and Alia Malek, head of the International Reporting Program, have been honored with Tow Professorships for the 2020-2022 academic years.

The Tow Foundation established the professorships to enable the Newmark J-School to support the research of two teachers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their fields.

Laber-Warren is a longtime science reporter and editor who took over the J-School’s health and science concentration in 2010. In addition to her teaching and administrative roles, she has remained an active freelancer, covering human biology, psychology, behavior, and stewardship of the planet.

One of her recent stories, Can an “Invasive Species” Earn the Right to Stay?, was published June 2 in Sapiens, a digital anthropology magazine. She is also the author of A Walk in the Woods: Into the Field Guide, an introduction to forest ecology for young children, and she hopes to write another nonfiction science book for kids while she’s a Tow professor.

Malek became director of the international concentration in 2018 after completing her second book of narrative non-fiction, The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria. A former civil rights attorney, she transitioned to journalism and went on to work both as a freelancer and on staff, most recently at Al Jazeera America, where she was a senior writer.

Malek has written frequently about Syria. Her recent piece in The New York Times, ‘He Didn’t Want to Lie in a Grave That Couldn’t Be Visited,’ is a moving account of why her father’s desire to be buried in his homeland could not be fulfilled and how his unrealized dreams mirror Syria’s own unravelling.

She is currently in the middle of a 10-year reporting project that began in 2015, following the lives of a group of Syrian refugees she traveled with from a Greek island to northern Europe. The Tow fellowship will support reporting for a book chronicling this story. In addition, short dispatches from the project appear in The New York Times Magazine. The most recent came out earlier this month.

The Tow Foundation, started in 1988 by cable TV pioneer Leonard Tow and his wife Claire, helped create similar professorship programs at Brooklyn College and Barnard College.

Previous recipients on the J-School’s faculty were Associate Professor Lisa Armstrong; Graciela Mochkofsky, executive director of the Center for Community Media and head of the Spanish-language Journalism Program; Associate Professor Bob Sacha; documentary filmmaker Yoruba Richen, and investigative journalist and digital media strategist Miguel Paz.