Award Winners

2009

Radio

"A Very Lucky Wind" - 15 June 2009

WNYC Radiolab

 

Jad Abumrad, Soren Wheeler and Robert Krulwich of WNYC’s Radiolab won the radio prize for a story about what happened when an English girl released a balloon with a label, “Please send back to Laura Buxton.” In the south of England, the balloon landed near the home of another Laura Buxton. What to make of the startling coincidence?

“This is a tale about miracles which, on closer examination, are not quite as miraculous as they seem,” Krulwich said. “Ordinarily an anti-miracle story sounds like a downer but in this case, by mixing girls, grandpas, balloons, statistics...Read more

Online

Bangladesh: Where the Climate Exodus Begins (series) "Facing the specter of the globe’s biggest and harshest mass journeys" - March 2009

Bangladesh: Where the Climate Exodus Begins (series) "E+E’s Lisa Friedman explores storm-ravaged Bengali village" - March 2009

Bangladesh: Where the Climate Exodus Begins (series) "The road from growing rice to raising shrimp to misery" - March 2009

ClimateWire

 

In a five-part series that ran in March 2009 on ClimateWire, an environmental news service, reporter Lisa Friedman described the potential impact of climate change on Bangladesh, which some scientists see as ground zero for a likely wave of climate-induced mass migrations around the globe.

Friedman “brings climate science down to a human level and highlights how one often-overlooked corner of the world is affected by climate-changing activities elsewhere,” said judge Tina Hesman Saey of Science News. Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press said Friedman’s...Read more

Children's Science News

"Where Rivers Run Uphill" - 23 July 2008

Science News for Kids

 

Douglas Fox used his journey across Antarctic ice sheets to show how scientists are studying a strange world of lakes and rivers beneath the ice. He wrote that scientists think that “lakes under the ice might act like giant slippery banana peels.” He and the researchers traveled to a lake that is “buried under ice, two Empire State Buildings below our feet.”

Arndt Reuning, a science reporter for Deutschlandradio, said Fox covered “an important issue in a vivid and funny way. He’s a superb and entertaining story-teller.” Catherine Hughes of National Geographic...Read more

2008

Large Newspaper

"Chasing Memory" series - 19-22 Aug. 2007

 Los Angeles Times

 

“I never had more fun or learned more than during the months I spent in the lab researching this series,” said Terry McDermott, who won the award in the 2008 large-newspaper category for his series on “Chasing Memory” in the Los Angeles Times. It was the last series he wrote for the paper—he was let go as part of the paper’s effort to substantially reduce staff. McDermott previously had won the large-newspaper award in 1995 while he was at The Seattle Times.

The judges praised McDermott’s ambitious, meticulously reported series on memory and the brain....Read more

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

Magazine

"Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good?" - 28 Jan. 2008

BusinessWeek

 

In a cover story for BusinessWeek, Carey wrote a thought-provoking, carefully documented piece looking at the question of whether the benefits of statin drugs may be overstated except in the case of high-risk heart patients. The story looked at the statistical methods used in research on statins, including the little-known but useful statistic called the “number needed to treat,” or NNT. Carey also discussed the design of clinical trials aimed at proving the benefit of heart drugs and the underlying biochemistry of statins. Guy Gugliotta, a freelance science...Read more

Television (1981-2009)

"Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" - 13 Nov. 2007

WGBH/NOVA and Vulcan Productions, Inc.

 

The judges praised the two-hour program, a production of NOVA and Vulcan Productions, Inc., for its careful, balanced presentation on the landmark Dover, Pennsylvania, court case that weighed the merits of discussing “intelligent design” in the science classroom. Through interviews with participants in the 2005 case, use of trial transcripts and reenactments of key courtroom moments, the broadcast captured the community turmoil surrounding the case, described the modern science of evolution, and explained why U.S District Court Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent...Read more

Radio

Online

"Megafishes project to size up real ‘Loch Ness Monsters" - 24 July 2007

"World’s largest trout thrives in Mongolia—for now" - 7 Nov. 2007

"Giant river stingrays found near Thai city" - 29 Apr. 2008

National Geographic News

 

Stefan Lovgren traveled around the world to tell the story of monster species of fish and their habitat. “Using all of the tools available, Lovgren paints a compelling portrait of these gargantuan fish that most people would never get to see,” said Seth Borenstein of Associated Press. “The images of the giant ray and the cannibalistic fish hook you, and the narrative reels you in.” Warren Leary, a freelance writer formerly with The New York Times, called Lovgren’s work “a fine entry that introduces the public to an interesting topic in an innovative way. Good...Read more

Children's Science News

"Roadkill, Horror on Roads" - 15 June 2008

Children's Science Donga

 

The judges liked the offbeat subject matter and the nice description of scientific investigation in Yoon Shin-Young’s piece on the impact of highway roadkills on native species in South Korea. “Yoon Shin-Young’s story was excellent,” said Lila Guterman, a freelance writer formerly with The Chronicle of Higher Education. She said the piece was “interesting to read with lots of great examples, photos and graphics.” Jean-Louis Santini, a science reporter for Agence France-Presse called it “an original piece that clearly presents the issues… a very attractive piece.”...Read more

2007

Large Newspaper

"Altered Oceans" - 30 July — 3 Aug. 2006

Los Angeles Times

 

Kenneth Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling of the Los Angeles Times won for an ambitious series that examined the profound disturbances that have been occurring in the ecology of the world’s oceans.

“The Altered Oceans series was an unusual undertaking for a newspaper,” Weiss said. “there was no single dramatic event like a hurricane or tsunami. No mass human deaths. Instead, we looked at the slow creep of environmental decay — the kind of changes that most people never notice.”

The series described how industrial society has been overdosing the...Read more

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

Magazine

"How Not to Talk to Your Kids" - 19 Feb. 2007

New York

 

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman won for their piece in New York magazine on the science of praising children. According to a Columbia University survey, 85 percent of American parents think it is important to tell their children that they are smart, helping to ensure that they do not sell their talents short. But in a cover story in New York magazine, Bronson and Merryman described a growing body of research which suggests that giving kids the label “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. Rather, it may actually be a cause of...Read more

Television (1981-2009)

"Forgotten Genius" - 6 Feb. 2007

WGBH/NOVA

 

The grandson of Alabama slaves, African-American scientist Percy Julian overcame racial discrimination to become one of the leading chemists of the 20th century. The winning WGBH/NOVA program told his remarkable and largely unknown story. The program describes not only Julian’s early struggles to open doors traditionally closed to blacks but also his keen sense for how to do science. His work with steroids and alkaloids helped bring about a host of affordable and effective treatments for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and glaucoma. The judges praised the program for its...Read more

Radio

"The Electric Brain" - 8-11 Jan. 2007

KPLU-FM Seattle/Tacoma

 

In a thematic series, Keith Seinfeld of KPLU-FM in Seattle/Tacoma described the electrical properties of the human brain and how scientists are finding new ways to use those properties to treat diseases and injuries. The judges were impressed by his clear, concise language and great use of sound in telling about important research in neuroscience. “While a drill whines in the background, cutting a hole in the top of a patient’s skull, Keith Seinfeld carries his listeners into the story,” said Jeff Nesmith, a Washington-based science writer for Cox Newspapers. “This kind of...Read more

Online

"Lake Superior Basin Climate Change series" - 3 May 2007; 3 June 2007; 30 June 2007

KeweenawNow.com

 

Katie Alvord, a freelance reporter who won in the online categeory for her stories on the changing environment of Michigan’s Upper Pennisula, said the award “makes the intense work I did to write this online article series even more worthwhile.” She added, “Especially for a small-town freelancer like me, it’s a real boost to get this kind of recognition.”

In a solid example of localized science reporting for a community-based Web site, freelance writer Alvord described the potential local impacts of global warming on a local Michigan community. Kathy Sawyer, a...Read more