Award Winners

2011

Online

“The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers” Series One - 6 Oct. 2010

“The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers” Series Two - 2 Feb. 2011

The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers” Series Three - 16 Feb. 2011

PBS NOVA Online

 

PBS NOVA Online’s “Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers” offers a sometimes surprising look at the avocations and enthusiasms of researchers who pursue the mysteries of science. William Saletan, who covers science for Slate, called the winning entry “a delightfully engaging, visually creative series that illuminates the intrigue and texture of science through the personalities of its people.”

The winning online video series introduced scientists and engineers in both their professional and personal lives. The subjects included a neurobiologist who meditates, a...Read more

Children's Science News

"Skywalking for Science: Aloft in Redwood Space" - April 2011

ODYSSEY Magazine

 

Miller took her young readers to the top of redwood trees to learn how scientists study the canopy of these magnificent giants and the organisms that live there. They also are learning how water moves through the trunks and branches of trees that grow to more than 300 feet. “The story is a complete package with interesting sidebars, including one explaining how salmon and redwood forests benefit each other,” said Mary Knudson, a freelance science writer. “I first went camping on the northern California coast in the 1970s,” Miller said. “I was awestruck by the redwoods, but I...Read more

2010

Large Newspaper

"Toxic Waters" - 17 Dec. 2009; 13 Sept. 2009; 23 Aug. 2009

The New York Times

 

The judges applauded Duhigg for his impressive combination of science reporting and investigative journalism. He looked at possible health risks of chemicals commonly found in the nation’s drinking water and the failure of regulators to update and enforce existing laws pertaining to such chemicals. “Charles Duhigg has set a new standard for science journalism and investigative reporting, distilling hundreds of research papers and regulatory reports into a damning indictment of water quality in the United States,” said Robert Lee Hotz, a science writer for The Wall Street...Read more

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

Magazine

"The Placebo Problem" - September 2009

Wired

 

Steve Silberman told how an increasing number of medications are unable to beat dummy pills called placebos in head-to-head clinical testing, a point that has huge implications for the pharmaceutical industry. Only belatedly, he found, have researchers been trying to fully understand the power of the body’s response to placebos, and the real potential of that response to affect human health. Guy Gugliotta, a freelance science writer, said Silberman’s piece was “superbly written and superbly researched.” Mary Knudson, a freelance writer and journalism teacher at The Johns...Read more

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

"How Memory Works" - 25 Aug. 2009

NOVA scienceNow

 

The winning segment asked how a famous psychology subject named H.M. could retain memories of his childhood but not recall short-term memories such as what he had for lunch. It told how researchers are starting to learn what memories may be made of in the complex chemistry of the brain. Through animal experiments, neurobiologists are beginning to pinpoint specific molecules in the brain that are associated with the formation of memories. They also have found molecules that can erase memories forever. Peggy Girshman, executive editor for online at Kaiser Health News, said the...Read more

Television: In-Depth/Feature Reporting

"The Human Spark" - 6 Jan., 13 Jan. and 20 Jan. 2010

Thirteen in association with WNET.ORG

 

This wide-ranging series asked basic questions about what makes us human and how our ancestors evolved with a spark of ingenuity and intelligence that set them apart from other species, including the Neanderthals with which they co-existed for a time. The series looked at what we share in common and what sets us apart from chimpanzees, considered our closest living relatives. And it discussed the latest imaging methods that are giving neuroscientists insights into the brain mechanisms that account for language, one of the most fundamental aspects of the human spark. Dan...Read more

Radio

"Follow the Science: Calculating the Amount of Oil and Gas in the Gulf Oil Spill" - 14 May, 20 May, 28 May 2010

NPR

 

Richard Harris, a science correspondent for NPR, won the radio award, along with editor Alison Richards, for a series that challenged the initial estimates on the size of the devastating Gulf oil spill.

“To get this story, I found several scientists who were willing to drop what they were doing and take up the challenge I presented them,” Harris said. “With the able help of my editor, we quickly put this information out to the public. Though we initially met with resistance, facts are stubborn things, and ultimately the analysis was proven correct.” Harris won the...Read more

Certificate of Merit

The judges also gave a “Certificate of Merit” to Gabriel Spitzer of WBEZ in Chicago for a 10 September 2009 report on how music can rewire the brain. They praised his use of radio’s story-telling capabilities. John Carey, a freelancer and a former senior correspondent for BusinessWeek, noted Spitzer’s “great use of the medium of radio, with sounds that really did paint a picture.”...Read more

Online

"The Memory Doctor" - 4 June 2010

Slate

 

 William Saletan of Slate won for a lengthy examination of the work of leading memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus. In his reporting on Loftus, Saletan explored the mutability of memory and the role and power of faked images. His richly textured presentation, with embedded video and relevant footnotes, included an exercise in which Slate, an online magazine, did its own experiment on memory manipulation. By doctoring photo images from recent political history, Saletan showed how even highly informed and educated readers can come to remember bogus political stories as...Read more

Children's Science News

"Learning from Bears" - 1 Feb 2010

"Real-Life Bloodsuckers" - 26 Oct. 2009

"Saving the Ozone Layer" - 7 Sept. 2009

Science World (Scholastic)

 

In an entry of three unrelated stories, Cody Crane tackled an admirable breadth of subject matter in stories that took her young readers into the field to show how scientists think and work. She followed a Minnesota research biologist who checked in with hibernating bears for clues on how they manage their winter-long slumber. She also told her readers about vampire bats and other animal bloodsuckers that play an important role in nature. Catherine Hughes, science editor for National Geographic Kids, said that Crane’s writing is “clear, straightforward, kid-...Read more

2009

Large Newspaper

"Now: The Rest of the Genome" - 11 Nov. 2008

"10 Genes, Furiously Evolving" - 5 May 2009

"Blink Twice If You Like Me" - 30 June 2009

The New York Times

 

Carl Zimmer won in the large newspaper category for a trio of articles he wrote for The New York Times on aspects of genetics and evolution. “I sometimes feel a little embarrassed that I like to write articles about the kinds of basic questions my kids ask me,” Zimmer said. “For the three stories I submitted, the questions were, ‘What’s a virus?’ ‘What’s a gene?’ and ‘Why do fireflies flash?’ I had a marvelous time talking with scientists about the complex answers to those simple questions, and now, thanks to this award, I don’t have to feel at all embarrassed...Read more

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

Magazine

"Barcode of Life" - October 2008

Wired

 

Gary Wolf, a contributing editor for Wired, took readers into the arcane field of taxonomy to follow an evolutionary biologist who is convinced that he can build a simple, universal identification system for all animals. If barcodes work for cans of soup on the grocer’s shelf, he asked, why not for bugs? “In this fresh and engaging tale, Gary Wolf doggedly pursues the trail of a scientist in pursuit of a theory,” said Mary Knudson, a freelance who teaches science writing at The Johns Hopkins University. “This story has it all—a compelling narrative, illuminating...Read more

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

"Diamond Factory" - 30 June 2009

NOVA scienceNOW

 

In the winning program segment, host Neil deGrasse Tyson visited a production facility that makes diamonds good enough to fool a jeweler. The segment described the properties of diamonds, the advances in materials science that allow their manufacture, the advantages of lab-made diamonds over natural diamonds, and their potential use in fields such as electronics, transportation and communications. Warren Leary, a science writer formerly with The New York Times, called the segment “a good showcase for science and engineering that the public can understand and enjoy.”...Read more

Television: In-Depth/Feature Reporting

"The Last Extinction" - 31 Mar. 2009

WGBH/NOVA

 

What caused the rapid extinction, some 12,900 years ago, of large mammals such as woolly mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and giant ground sloths that roamed North America? The NOVA program explored the leading theories, including the possibility that a comet broke apart in the atmosphere and smashed into the continent in multiple pieces, triggering explosions, forest fires and other devastating effects that led to the demise of up to 35 species of large mammals. The judges called the program, which used striking computer animations of the animals in question, a balanced...Read more