Award Winners

2015

Large Newspaper

Gold

"Advocates aim to save Baltimore children from impact of violence" - 14 Dec. 2014

"Families struggle to care for victims of violence" - 18 Dec. 2014

"Relatives of Baltimore murder victims struggle with grief" - 21 Dec. 2014

The Baltimore Sun

 

Andrea K. McDaniels of The Baltimore Sun won for her three-part "Collateral Damage" series which told what researchers have been learning about the impact of traumatic stress on children's health and the development of the young brain. Even as shootings, stabbings, and murder trials grab the spotlight, McDaniels wrote, violence in Baltimore "is exacting another insidious, often invisible, toll — warping the health and development of the city's youngest residents."

For more than a year, McDaniels examined the unseen impact...Read more

Silver

"Stéthoscope, Il n'a plus le monopole du coeur" (The stethoscope no longer holds a monopoly over our hearts) - 26 Nov. 2014

"Anguilles, Sept mille lieues sous les mers" (Eels, 7000 leagues under the sea) - 17 Dec. 2014

"La souris, Reine contestée des labos" (The mouse, challenged queen of the lab) - 18 Feb. 2015

Le Monde

 

In three well-crafted stories, Nathaniel Herzberg of Le Monde told his readers about the decline of the stethoscope as the undisputed symbol of the working physician; the efforts of scientists since the time of the ancient Greeks to understand the migration and metamorphoses of the European eel that crosses the Atlantic twice during its life cycle; and the diminished allure of mice as experimental subjects for the study of human diseases. Tim Radford, former science editor of The Guardian, called the Silver Award winner's work "a triptych of...Read more

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

Magazine

Gold

"The Quake Hunters" - 9 July 2015

Nature

"The Pluto Siblings" - 25 Feb. 2015

Nature

"Let the River Run" - 10 Jan. 2015

Science News

 

Alexandra Witze introduced her readers to the seismologists who work around the clock to pinpoint major earthquakes around the globe; to a brother and sister who have spent their lives studying Pluto; and to scientists and engineers involved in the removal of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington's Olympic Penninsula and the restoration of the environment behind the dams. The judges praised Witze's command of diverse topics, each story illuminated through on-the-scene reporting. Dan Vergano of BuzzFeed called her work "sterling reporting that opens windows on the people...Read more

Silver

"The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic" - March/April 2015

Nautilus

 

Amanda Gefter described the fascinating life of Walter Pitts, who was bullied as a child in Detroit and took refuge in the local library where he taught himself Greek, Latin, logic, and mathematics. He ran away from home at age 15, became a pioneer in neuroscience and cybernetics at MIT, and later became a withdrawn alcoholic. Pitts worked with Warren McCulloch, who was born at the other end of the economic spectrum in a family of privilege. "McCulloch and Pitts were destined to live, work, and die together," Gefter writes. "Along the way, they would create the first...Read more

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

"Is Alaska Safe for Sea Stars?" - 8 Oct. 2014

KCTS 9 (Seattle)

 

With a deadly wasting disease killing West Coast starfish by the millions, Katie Campbell's story took views to Alaska where researchers are trying to determine whether starfish in colder waters might escape the die-off. "This piece was about far more than starfish," said judge David Baron, former science editor for PRI's "The World." "By showing how biologists painstakingly collect data to understand the natural world, the story beautifully demonstrates what it means to be a scientist." The judges praised the Gold Award winner as an excellent example of strong, local...Read more

Silver

"Will a robotic arm ever have the full functionality of a human limb?" - 12 Feb. 2015

"Can modern prosthetics actually help reclaim the sense of touch?" - 13 Feb. 2015

PBS NewsHour

 

In a two-part series, PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien — whose left arm was amputated in 2014 after an unlikely accident while he was on a reporting assignment in Japan — discussed the status of prosthetics development and the challenges in developing a fully functional human limb. Judge Eliene Augenbraun, senior video producer for Scientific American, said O'Brien's reporting was a "refreshingly skeptical look" at what it will take to make advanced prosthetics widely available. She found O'Brien "completely lacking in self-pity"...Read more

Television: In-Depth/Feature Reporting

Gold

"Climate Change by Numbers" - 2 Mar. 2015

BBC

 

The BBC team used clever analogies and appealing graphics to discuss three key numbers that help clarify important questions about climate change: 0.85 degrees Celsius — how much the Earth has warmed since the 1880s; 95% — how sure scientists are that human activity is the major cause of Earth's recent warming; and one trillion tons — the best estimate of the amount of carbon that can be burned before risking dangerous climate change. Three mathematicians discuss such topics as the moon landing, early 20th century cotton mills, and motor racing to help illuminate the...Read more

Silver

"Genetic Me" - 26 Nov. 2014

Danish Broadcasting Corporation

 

Danish journalist Lone Frank and director Pernille Rose Grønkjær took viewers on a deeply personal journey of discovery as Frank explored current research on the genetic factors at play in personality development. "Genes and environment can never be seen as isolated from each other," Frank says. "They're engaged in an eternal exchange." Baron called the documentary "one of the most original pieces of TV science journalism I have ever seen." Richard Hudson, director of science production for Twin Cities Public Television, called it a memorable film in which Frank "...Read more

Radio

Gold

"What the Songbird Said" - 11 May 2015

BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service

 

Rami Tzabar and Angela Saini of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) won for radio reporting that explored how animal models of vocal communication may be useful in understanding how human language might have evolved. "Just like the birdsongs they report on, the BBC team produced a program that is both a delight to the ears and elegantly structured," said Seth Borenstein, a science reporter for the Associated Press, who helped judge the competition.

Vocal learning — the ability to learn and imitate sounds — is a trait humans share with only a few other...Read more

Silver

"Climate change in Minnesota: More heat, more big storms" - 2 Feb. 2015

"A forest dilemma: What will grow in a changing climate?" - 3 Feb. 2015

"As state warms, a few spots keep their cool" - 3 Feb. 2015

Minnesota Public Radio

 

Dan Kraker and Elizabeth Dunbar of Minnesota Public Radio described the current and likely effects of climate change in their home state, particularly on the changing makeup of the northern forests. They noted the changes already occurring in Minnesota's climate, with warmer temperatures on average, especially in winter, and bigger downpours of rain. Red maple trees, which tolerate warmer temperatures, are moving northward. Cold-tolerant pine trees are dying out. While managers of Minnesota's forests know their world is changing, they disagree on how urgently new...Read more

Online

Gold

"How a Lone Hacker Shredded the Myth of Crowdsourcing" - 9 Feb. 2015

Backchannel

 

Crowdsourcing, which exploits the collective intelligence of thousands of people to tackle big problems, has become popular in business, political, and academic circles. But Mark Harris described how a hacker and a friend infiltrated a DARPA-sponsored "Shredder Challenge" and created havoc. Participants in the challenge had to piece together 6,000 chads from documents that had been put through high-end shredding machines. Some of the teams used sophisticated computer algorithms to help match images of the chads that had been posted online. But the hackers managed...Read more

Silver

"How Ebola Roared Back" - 29 Dec. 2014

The New York Times

 

A New York Times team described how, for a fleeting moment in the spring of 2014, the Ebola epidemic that subsequently swept through West Africa might have been stopped. The winners included reporters Sheri Fink, Kevin Sack, Adam Nossiter and Pam Belluck; freelance photographer Daniel Berehulak; independent video producer Dan Edge (for Frontline); and the New York Times graphics team. The Times reporters discovered that World Health Organization and Guinean health authorities had documented that a handful of people in Sierra Leone had...Read more

Children's Science News

Gold

"Where will lightning strike?" - 16 Sept. 2014

Science News for Students (online site)

 

Stephen Ornes told his youthful readers about the natural events that unfold in clouds to produce the visible bolts and roaring thunder that produce one of nature's most dazzling displays — and also one of its most dangerous. Starting with a harrowing story about hikers caught in a thunderstorm atop a mountain in California's Sequoia National Park, Ornes describes what scientists have learned about the behavior of lightning and what they are still struggling to understand. That includes exactly how a bolt is triggered and how to predict where it might connect with the ground...Read more

Silver

"Science Trek: Bats - White Nose Syndrome" - 16 Sept. 2014

Idaho Public Television

 

Joan Cartan-Hansen showed scientists at work in an underground chamber at an old power plant in Idaho, swabbing the forearms and noses of hibernating bats in search of evidence for a deadly fungus that has been killing millions of bats across the nation. Cartan-Hansen described the importance of the research in determining whether the outbreak of white nose syndrome had reached southwestern Idaho (there was no evidence of it in the power plant building), and she noted that humans can spread the disease by transporting the fungus on their shoes and clothing from caves...Read more