Award Winners

2016

Small Newspaper

Gold

“Busted! Breast Cancer, Money and the Media” (11-part series) – 5 Nov. 2015 - 21 Jan. 2016

Point Reyes Light (California)

 

In his series for the Point Reyes Light, Peter Byrne took a close look at claims of a breast cancer epidemic among white women in upscale Marin County and found that widespread cancer screening, producing many false positives, is the likely cause of a feared “cancer cluster” in the county. He reported that many non-cancerous findings are erroneously entered in the state’s cancer registry as cancerous. “There is not more breast cancer in Marin than elsewhere, experts say; rather, it is detected more frequently—and often erroneously,” Byrne wrote. “Over the...Read more

Silver

“Graying of HIV: After 35 years of the AIDS virus, a generation makes new medical history” - 5 June 2016

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

 

More than half of the 1.25 million Americans infected by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV) are age 50 or older, Barbara Peters Smith reported in her award-winning piece. In just four years, that share should reach 70 percent. “As the longevity boom collides with a resurgence of HIV diagnoses nationwide, scientists are just now learning how this persistent, incurable virus ─ along with the powerful drugs that keep it at bay ─ takes a toll on the body that makes natural aging look like a gift,” she wrote. People with HIV experience age-related changes in their DNA more...Read more

2015

Small Newspaper

Gold

"Battle of the Ash Borer" - 27 July 2014

Lansing State Journal

 

The emerald ash borer, an insect that has laid waste to more than 100 million ash trees from New Jersey to Colorado, has wiped out virtually every ash tree in southeast Michigan. In much of the rest of the state's Lower Peninsula, there are few trees left to save. In a detailed look at the local impact of the pest, Matthew Miller described efforts by researchers to identify the borer and slow the devastation, including the use of tiny stingless wasps that prey on the borer's eggs and larvae. They also are exploring ways to cross North American ash trees with resistant...Read more

Silver

"Arien für die Wissenschaft" (Arias for Science) - 24 Dec. 2014

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)

 

Helga Rietz wrote an engaging story on efforts by Matthias Echternach — who is both a trained singer and a medical doctor — to study the physiology of the singing voice. Using high-speed cameras, endoscopes, custom-made masks to measure pressure and airflow in the throat, and magnetic resonance imaging, Echternach is looking for the physical attributes of a dramatic operatic voice, including that of soprano Renate Behle, one of his test subjects. There are as many questions as answers, Rietz notes, including the mystery of exactly how a singer controls the tiny...Read more

2014

Small Newspaper

"Devastated: The World's Largest Organism is in Utah — and It's Dying" - 21 Nov. 2013

Salt Lake City Weekly

 

Matthew LaPlante and Paul Christiansen described efforts to understand what is killing the aspen groves of Utah, clones of genetically identical trees that exist as single interconnected organisms with unified root systems that can cover 100 acres or more. A clone dubbed "Pando," first identified in the 1970s as likely the world's largest organism, has an almost complete lack of juvenile and adolescent tree stems, a sign that the ancient organism (perhaps 80,000 years old by some estimates) may be dying. Despite an onslaught of boring insects, bark beetles, canker infections...Read more

2013

Small Newspaper

"Warning: Quake in 60 Seconds" - 1 May 2013

East Bay Express

 

An early warning system could save thousands of lives when the next major earthquake hits the West Coast. Ghorayshi reported on the work of a group at the University of California at Berkeley that has been developing such a warning system, and she pointed out the wide gap between the United States and Japan in the deployment of such systems. Lee Hotz of The Wall Street Journal said Ghorayshi's piece was "sound on science and sage on the politics of earthquake early warning systems." Ghorayshi "made a great case for why California needs to follow Japan's lead in...Read more

2011

Small Newspaper

"On Thinning Ice: A look at Wind River Range’s shrinking glaciers" (series) - 23-25 Jan. 2011

Casper Star-Tribune

 

Christine Peterson, Kerry Huller and Wes Watson of Wyoming’s Casper Star-Tribune won for a series on the shrinking glaciers in the Wind River Range and the possible impacts locally. “Kudos to the Casper Star-Tribune for devoting energy and ink to explaining the science right in its readers’ back yards,” said judge Nancy Shute, a freelance science writer and contributor to NPR.

Peterson and her colleagues looked at the work of local Wyoming scientists who have been studying the glacier ecosystem of the Wind River Range, including how microbes have been...Read more

2010

Small Newspaper

"One Tough Sucker" - 7 June 2010

High Country News

 

Hillary Rosner, a freelance reporter, won for her piece in High Country News about the razorback sucker, an endangered fish in the Colorado River that once was abundant and now is dependent on continuing human intervention for its survival. “It’s a particular honor to win for this story because it touches on so many topics I love reporting on—biodiversity, resource management, human ingenuity,” Rosner said. “I remember being out there in the field thinking, ‘I have the best job in the world.’”

In her tale of the razorback sucker, Rosner noted that despite an...Read more

2009

Small Newspaper

"Lethal Legacy" - 21-23 June 2009

Great Falls Tribune

 

Amie Thompson of Montana’s Great Falls Tribune told how a family in Turner, Montana, is coping with a deadly genetic disease so rare that only a handful of families worldwide are known to be affected by it. The disease, pallidopontonigral degeneration, or PPND, strikes in mid-life with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.Thompson told the story of how a dedicated researcher uncovered the rare disease, but she said, “what made the story come to life for me was listening to how the disease has affected each family member.” Several...Read more

2008

Small Newspaper

"In Search of Life" - 4 July 2007 and 11 July 2007

East Bay Express

 

Kara Platoni won in the small-newspaper category for stories in the East Bay Express about efforts of local scientists in the San Francisco-Oakland area to determine whether there is life elsewhere in the cosmos. “So many wonderful scientists gave me amazing sit-down interviews,” Platoni said. “Each one felt like I was getting a graduate-level lecture for a class of one.” Platoni introduced her readers to the work of local scientists searching for answers to perhaps the biggest scientific question of all: Are we alone in the universe? Platoni explored the field...Read more

2007

Small Newspaper

"Getting to the Bottom of Mysterious Elk Deaths" - 26 Nov. 2006 and 3 Dec. 2006

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle

 

A rash of mysterious elk deaths in Wyoming in 2004 left scientists and game wardens wondering what had happened. Frazer described the steps by which researchers determined that a poisonous lichen was the likely cause. In a two-part series, Frazer also described efforts to save the remaining elk and help the species recover. Calling her series an example of “superb local science writing,” Robert Lee Hotz of The Wall Street Journal said Frazer “opens a window into the mysteries of field epidemiology, turning a story of doomed elk into a page-turner of a...Read more

2006

Small Newspaper

"The Ghosts of Yosemite" - 17 Oct. 2005

"Save Our Snow" - 6 Mar. 2006

"Dust and Snow" - 29 May 2006

High Country News

 

In stories on climate change in the West, Nijhuis described the work of contemporary scientists who are using pioneering field work in Yosemite by biologist Joseph Grinnell nearly a century ago to better understand the changes now occurring in animal populations of the Sierra range; the efforts by Aspen, Colorado and other western towns to grapple with changing climate; and the impact of airborne dust, from drought-stricken grazing lands and other sources, on snow pack in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Peter Spotts of The Christian Science Monitor called her...Read more

2005

Small Newspaper

"Women and Science: The Debate Goes On" - 4 Mar. 2005

"The Hidden Cost of Farming Fish" - 22 Apr. 2005

"Come Over to the Dark Side" - 3 June 2005

The Chronicle of Higher Education

 

Monastersky was selected for a series of three unrelated pieces that showed a broad grasp of science, from the politically sensitive debate over how boys and girls learn about math to the risks of fish farms to the search by physicists for an elusive force that shapes the universe and accelerates its expansion.

“Monastersky’s work stands out for its meticulous explanatory reporting of a remarkably broad range of scientific controversies,” said Robert Lee Hotz of the Los Angeles Times.

“I am deeply honored that the judges selected my work for the...Read more

2004

Small Newspaper

2003

Small Newspaper

"Kazakhstan in a fight against brucellosis" - 16 Mar. 2003

Casper Star-Tribune

2002

Small Newspaper

"If you Smash It, They Will Come" - 23 Aug. 2001

"Fish or Famine" - 6 Sept. 2001

"Out if Africa...Come Fascinating Fossils" - 15 Nov. 2001

Christian Science Monitor