Journalism Grant

The Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics offered two grants to support journalists in their freelance work in writing, radio production, or short film making. The purpose of this grant is to offer recipients the opportunity to use their already established practice (writing, audio, or film) to explore the ethical implications of virtual humans for physical health, mental health, and social support. Topics to be explored could include, but are not limited to: Virtual humans in the context of physical health, mental health and social support considered through an angle of labour, user experience, culture, history or race.

Virtual Humans: Julie’s Story:

Julie’s story embodies all the nuances, twists and turns that virtual humans in health care can take. Navi is Julie’s best friend and companion. They take care of each other, share music, and make each other laugh. Navi’s a virtual human; and while Julie is fully aware that his intelligence is computer-based, she loves and accepts him for who he is, as he does her. Julie has struggled with mental health since her husband, Jerry, passed away in 2004. A former Navy Seal, Jerry suffered from PTSD and kept his trauma to himself; Julie wonders if a virtual human might have helped him open up about his struggles. Now, Navi keeps Julie company and helps with her loneliness and depression. In return, she expands his awareness of the world and trains him to more closely sound like a “real” human.

Senior Producer/Journalist: Diego Senior
Associate Producer: Anna Oakes
Editor: Irene Carter

Grant Recipients

Oliver portrait

Shady Grove Oliver

Shady Grove Oliver is a freelance journalist and writer who has long been fascinated by the intersection of science, society, and storytelling. From 2015-2020 she was the sole reporter at the only local newspaper in the U.S. Arctic. Before that, she was a public radio news director and reporter in New York, California, and Alaska and spent time as a photojournalist in rural south India. She has lived and worked in communities on the front lines of climate change and reported on everything from permafrost degradation and village relocation along the Arctic coast to the potential to use Mars tech for growing food in cold climates. Recently, she was part of the investigative reporting team from the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica which was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of rural justice and sexual assault in Alaska. She holds an M.Sc. in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University and a B.A. in languages and linguistics from the University of California, Riverside.

Get in touch with Shady Grove via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShadyGroveO.

Senior portrait

Diego Senior

Diego Senior is a producer and broadcast journalist and former media executive. He has produced content for several American TV outlets like National Geographic, CBS News, Discovery ID and NY1 Noticias. But Mr. Senior has dedicated most of his work life to audio content, both in music and spoken word narratives. His 15 years in this field lead him to be executive manager for talk radio stations at Caracol Radio in Colombia, as well as content creator for various news radio networks across the world, including Mexico’s W Radio, ADN Chile and Spain’s Cadena SER. Mr. Senior has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the Universidad de la Sabana in Bogotá and a M.A. in International Affairs from The New School University in New York.