Dan Egan, a science writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, won for a three-part series, "Deep Trouble," that examined why a seemingly radical solution — damming and reversing the flow of the Chicago River — may be necessary to protect the Great Lakes from the invasive Asian carp. The reporting was done as part of a master's thesis project at Columbia University, Egan said.
"I want to thank my editors for letting me go to New York to stretch my ability to write about these complicated topics, and for recognizing there was such a strange and interesting story lurking in the Chicago River," Egan said.
Egan reported that DNA analysis by a University of Notre Dame team showed that Asian carp likely had breached an experimental electric barrier designed to block them from reaching Lake Michigan. In his comprehensive and well-reported "Deep Trouble" series, Egan examined why reversing the flow of the Chicago River — so that it no longer connects with the Mississippi basin via a canal — could be the only feasible method to protect the Great Lakes from the invasive carp. In the series, Egan takes his readers deep into both the biology and the policy questions surrounding the carp invasion. Laura Helmuth, science editor for Slate, said the personalities in Egan's reporting are "rich and real, full of good intentions, worries, and doubts." She added, "The history of engineering, public works, and invasive species battles is woven into the story elegantly. It's a fascinating read, full of drama and passion." The judges were impressed by the quality of entries in the large-newspaper category this year, but they decided Egan was a clear winner. "His was science reporting with considerable impact on a topic of national importance," said Robert Lee Hotz, a science writer for The Wall Street Journal.