JREF Research Fellows

James Randi Educational Foundation research fellows are skeptical scholars, writers, and leaders who have been recognized by the JREF for their contribution to the skeptical movement. They contribute on a regular basis to Randi.org and produce a work of original skeptical research with the JREF’s support.


Steven Novella, M.D., Senior Fellow
Steven Novella

Steven Novella, M.D. is a Senior Fellow at the JREF and Director of the JREF’s Science-Based Medicine project.

Dr. Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. He is the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society and the host and producer of the popular weekly science show, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. He also authors the NeuroLogica Blog, which covers news and issues in neuroscience, as well as general science, scientific skepticism, philosophy of science, critical thinking, and the intersection of science with the media and society.

His work with the JREF includes developing and directing JREF’s Science-Based Medicine project, providing the media and the public with trustworthy information about unproven alternative medical practices. The Science-Based Medicine blog, a group blog of healthcare professionals dedicated to issues of science in medicine, will become a joint project with the JREF.

Dr. Novella appears regularly on radio, television, podcasts and at public lectures and conventions promoting science and reason. His radio appearances include NPR: All Things Considered, Minnesota Public Radio, Jefferson Public Radio, Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour, The Skeptical Zone during Nat and Drew in the Morning on Virgin Radio 95.3 FM in Vancouver, and many others. His television appearances include The Dr. Oz Show, Inside Edition, 20/20, The History Channel, Penn & Teller: Bullshit, The Unexplained on A&E, and others.

Dr. Novella has taught a 24-lecture online course, distributed by the Teaching Company, called Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths: What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us.

Jamy Ian Swiss, Senior Fellow
Jamy Ian Swiss

Jamy Ian Swiss is a Senior Fellow at the JREF, working to educate the public on the intersection of magic and skepticism.

According to the post-modern magic duo, Penn & Teller, Jamy Ian Swiss is "James Bond with a deck of cards for a pistol!" Swiss has appeared internationally for presenters ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the Smithsonian Institution. His U.S. television appearances include CBS 48 Hours, PBS Nova, The Today Show, and repeat appearances on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. In a lengthy profile, The New Yorker magazine declared, “Swiss is widely thought to have one of the most masterly sleight-of-hand techniques in the world today.”

Internationally renowned for his skills as a sleight-of-hand artist and close-up magician, Swiss has lectured to magicians in 13 countries. On stage he has performed his show of mind-reading and mentalism, Heavy Mental, for audiences of thousands across the United States. As a public and corporate speaker, Swiss has addressed subjects including creativity, user experience, risk management, interface and formation design, and other aspects of corporate and creative concern to firms as diverse as Evernote, Publicis, Schlumberger, Adobe, Intuit, Electronic Arts, and Shufflemaster; and also serves as on-stage host for a diverse range of business conferences.

Swiss is the author of several books including The Art of Magic (the companion to the PBS documentary); two collections of essays, Devious Standards and Shattering Illusions; and he collaborated with Edward Tufte on a chapter in the book Visual Explanations. He has produced and written for television including Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular series; and he is a co-producer of New York’s longest-running Off-Broadway magic show, Monday Night Magic, now in its 16th consecutive season.

A renowned “skeptic” and pro-science advocate and activist, Swiss is a founder of the National Capital Area Skeptics [www.ncas.org]; a founder of the New York City Skeptics [www.nycs.org]; has spoken and performed across the U.S. on behalf of the Center for Inquiry; has been a contributor to Skeptic magazine; hosts the annual New England Conference on Science and Skepticism [NECSScon.org] in New York City; serves as a Senior Fellow of the James Randi Educational Foundation, including helping to administer the foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge, and is a regular presenter at the foundation’s annual TAM (The Amazing Meeting) conference; and is featured in the foundation’s podcast and webcast commentaries, The Honest Liar.

Dr. Ray Hall
Ray Hall

Dr. Ray Hall is a professor of physics at California State University, Fresno and holds a Ph.D. in experimental high energy particle physics from the University of California, Riverside. During his 16 years working on the D-Zero detector at Fermilab, he was part of the research team that discovered the fundamental particle known as the top quark.

He has taught college level courses on critical thinking for more than 10 years, and given presentations promoting critical thinking and science to groups and institutions including the California Science Teachers Association, the Air Force Academy, Stanford University, CSU Sonoma, CSU Pomona, K2B International, and the Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles.

Dr. Hall’s involvement with the JREF began at our first TAM in 2003 in Ft. Lauderdale, where he presented TAM’s very first Sunday Paper.

As a fellow, Dr. Hall chairs the JREF’s academic scholarships committee, contributes to the Randi.org blog, curates the presentation of Sunday Papers at each of our Amaz!ng Meetings, and edits books on skepticism featuring TAM Sunday Papers as part of the JREF’s digital publishing efforts.

Leo Igwe

Leo Igwe studied philosophy at Seat of Wisdom Seminary Owerri and the University of Calabar in Nigeria. He founded the Nigerian Humanist Movement and the Nigerian Skeptics Society. Igwe was the director of the Center for Inquiry in Nigeria. He represented the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) in West and Southern Africa and at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Banjul, Gambia. Currently he is part of the IHEU human rights team in Geneva. Leo is now pursuing a Ph.D at the University of Bayreuth in Germany. His research is on witchcraft accusations and their social impacts. Through his work in the field and in academia, Mr. Igwe aims to better understand the causes of harmful and unfounded beliefs across the continent, and to help combat it through educating the public, both in the U.S. and abroad. In partnership with the JREF, Mr. Igwe works to respond to growing superstitions throughout Africa, including belief in psuedoscientific “medicine,” and witchcraft, which result in heinous murders of adults and children alike.

Igwe’s articles have appeared in Free inquiry, Skeptical Inquirer, the Australian periodical The Skeptic, Skeptic Magazine, International Humanist News, Secular World, The Freethinker, Freethought Today and in other media publications in Africa and beyond. He has been featured in several radio, television and internet podcasts including the BBC. He regularly reports on the state of superstition and paranormal belief in Africa at randi.org, with his column, Skeptical Africa.
Karen Stollznow
Karen Stollznow

Dr. Karen Stollznow is a Host of the Center for Inquiry’s Point of Inquiry podcast, and Co-Host of the Skeptics Society's Monster Talk podcast. A prolific skeptical writer and investigator of pseudoscience and the paranormal, she is the "Naked Skeptic" web columnist for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the "Bad Language" columnist for Skeptic magazine. Dr. Stollznow is Contributing Editor for Skeptical Inquirer, is the Managing Editor of CSI's Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, and a frequent contributor to many sites and publications. She is a Linguist and Researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Director of the San Francisco Bay Area Skeptics.

Kyle Hill
Kyle Hill

Kyle Hill is currently working as a research assistant at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering and is now pursuing a master’s degree in Communication with a focus on science, health, environment, and sustainability. His research is focused on how personal motivations and website characteristics affect the use of critical thinking.

As a fellow, Hill conducts research on the ways people process science information they discover online, with the goal of applying his findings to the JREF’s mission of promoting skepticism and critical thinking. Hill will also blog at Randi.org, pilot a “Science and Skepticism 101” educational workshop to present at colleges and conferences, and conduct a census-style large scale survey of the skeptical community in coordination with the JREF. The aggregate results and analysis of the skeptic survey will be made available to the public, to confirm or contradict the skeptical community's "common knowledge" assumptions about who our community and our audiences are, and how they apply their skepticism.