Award Winners

2021

Science Reporting – Large Outlet

Silver

"The Mystery of Why Some People Keep Testing Positive for Covid-19" July 28, 2020

Elemental (from Medium)

Opening with the story of a young woman who tested positive multiple times for the coronavirus even after her symptoms of COVID-19 disease had resolved, Roxanne Khamsi described efforts by scientists to determine whether the virus can hang around in the body for much longer than initially believed and, if so, whether it can remain infectious. Her piece offered a nuanced look at confusing and incomplete data as scientists struggled to better understand the activity of the virus and the limitations of existing tests for detecting its presence in the body. Over time, does the standard PCR...Read more

Science Reporting – Small Outlet

Silver

"Ghost Bird" Sept. 30, 2020

The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)

Tony Bartelme’s story on the eastern black rail, dubbed the “ghost bird” for its elusiveness, went beyond the plight of an endangered species to discuss the impacts of climate change, the obsession of a South Carolina scientist who has been studying the black rail, and the fraught ways in which federal agencies and political institutions sometimes cope with species that capture the public’s imagination. In 2010, environmental groups asked the federal government to protect black rails under the Endangered Species Act. Two months after Bartelme’s story appeared, the U.S. Department of...Read more

Science Reporting – In-Depth

Silver

"Hoe Chips en Dip stierven voor een vaccin" (How Chips and Dip died for a vaccine) July 10, 2021

De Volkskrant (The Netherlands)

Maartje Bakker of De Volkskrant gained permission from the Biomedical Primate Research Center (BPRC) in Rijswijk, The Netherlands, to follow a study of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine as it was tested in monkeys. “Never before have outsiders seen at such close quarters how such an experiment is conducted” at the BPRC, Bakker wrote. “It is something that makes the researchers at the BPRC nervous. They know that they receive a lot of criticism from society.” But she added, “They also feel that the time when monkey research is surrounded by secrecy should be over.” Bakker recounted...Read more

Magazine

Silver

"The ethical questions that haunt facial-recognition research" Nov.18, 2020

Nature

In September 2019, four researchers asked publisher Wiley to immediately retract a study that had trained algorithms to distinguish faces of Uyghur people, a predominantly Muslim minority ethnic group in China. As Richard Van Noorden writes, the study published by Wiley was not alone. Journals from publishers including Springer Nature, Elsevier and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) had also published peer-reviewed papers that describe using facial recognition to identify Uyghurs and members of other Chinese minority groups. “For facial-recognition algorithms to...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Silver

"Mexico's COVID Cases and Deaths are Underreported—Why?" April 2, 2021

NOVA/GBH for PBS

During the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic, NOVA producer Arlo Pérez Esquivel left his home in Boston and traveled to stay with family in his hometown of Uruapan, Mexico. At the time, Boston and its surrounding county were reporting tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases among its population of 800,000 people. Meanwhile Uruapan and the surrounding region, collectively home to about 700,000 people, reported only a fraction of that number. When he arrived in Uruapan, Pérez noticed that reported cases weren’t accurately representing the number of sick and dying people around him. In a...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Silver

"Human Nature" Sept. 9, 2020

Gene editing with a remarkable new technology called CRISPR may be opening a new chapter on what it means to be human, the award-winning filmmakers report. For sickle cell disease, replacing just a single misplaced base molecule in the cell’s DNA can produce a cure. But how far should we go? Would it be wrong to engineer soldiers to feel no pain or allow parents to choose their child’s features, like eye color or height? The scientists who pioneered human genome studies and the developers of CRISPR technology are grappling with such questions, as are bioethicists who worry decisions may be...Read more

Audio

Silver

"Rising COVID cases and vaccine doubt" Feb. 3, 2021

SciDev.Net

"Debunking COVID-19 myths and remedies" Feb. 10, 2021

SciDev.Net

"Science and you: Africa's COVID-19 vaccines" Feb. 17, 2021

SciDev.Net

In a three-part series for the Africa Science Focus podcast of SciDev.Net―an online news site that covers science for the developing world―described how coronavirus cases and deaths had increased across Sub-Saharan Africa, how misinformation was spreading and affecting vaccine confidence, and how health specialists in Africa were mounting vaccination programs while also trying to calm patient fears. The team consisted of London-based Fiona Broom and Harrison Lewis and Africa-based reporters in Ethiopia (Brook Abdu), Zambia (Jubiel Zulu) and Malawi (Charles Pensulo). The judges praised...Read more

Children's Science News

Silver

"Whales get a second life as deep-sea buffets" Oct. 15. 2020

Science News for Students

When whales die and sink to the ocean’s bottom, their bodies can provide a feast to smaller organisms, including living things found nowhere else on Earth. “Think of it as a watery free-for-all,” Stephen Ornes tells his readers. “Hagfish, octopods, squid, sharks, crabs and worms all gather and devour. It’s a rich ecosystem all of its own. In deep water, where relatively few animals live, the feast may last for years.” For marine biologists, Ornes, says, “the body of a dead whale provides an opportunity to study life in one of the least explored places on Earth: the bottom of the ocean...Read more

2020

Science Reporting – Large Outlet

Silver

"The Storm Inside" April 12, 2020

The Washington Post

Sarah Kaplan told the heart-wrenching story of Keith Redding, an early March COVID-19 victim who became an important case study for doctors battling the virus. Redding first checked into the hospital with a suspected pneumonia infection. Early CT scans showed a lung symptom doctors have come to associate with the virus called “ground glass opacity.” Redding later experienced a cytokine storm, another tell-tale effect of the virus that occurs when a patient’s stressed immune system mounts an overaggressive internal attack. “This is the tragedy of the coronavirus,” writes Kaplan. “It hijacks...Read more

Science Reporting – Small Outlet

Silver

"Coastal Erosion: The smallest state and why it's getting smaller" Dec. 22, 2019

The Providence Journal

Coastal storms and rising sea levels are chipping away at the land mass of mainland Rhode Island and nearby Block Island, which is a part of Rhode Island, according to Alex Kuffner’s richly reported look at “the smallest state and why it’s getting smaller.” From his opening description of the perilous state of Block Island’s landfill ― located on a scenic bluff overlooking the sea ― to his catalogue of receding beaches along the coast of mainland Rhode Island, Kuffner explains not only what has been happening but why coastal erosion poses a serious long-term threat. As Kuffner writes, “...Read more

Science Reporting – In-Depth

Silver

2°C: Beyond the Limit (series)

The Washington Post

"Extreme climate change has arrived in America" Aug. 13, 2019

"Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world" Sept. 11, 2019

"The climate chain reaction that threatens the heart of the Pacific" Nov. 19, 2019

In three stories from their "2°C: Beyond the Limit” series, the Washington Post team reported that climate change is real and already is occurring globally. They noted that a 2-degree Celsius average temperature rise has emerged among scientists and policymakers as a global benchmark for extreme climate change. They took a closer look at some of the major climate change hot spots in the United States and elsewhere. By analyzing more than a century of NOAA temperature data, the team located several U.S. areas that are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius...Read more

Magazine

Silver

“The only catfish native to the Western U.S. is running out of water” July 1, 2020

High Country News

Maya L. Kapoor told the complex story of the threatened Yaqui catfish, the only catfish native to the Western United States. A history of colonization and anthropogenic climate change have destroyed the animal’s natural desert habitat, putting it under threat of extinction. “The current extinction crisis speaks to an uncomfortable truth,” writes Kapoor. “In a land of finite resources, every choice, big or small,” she says, “means choosing what kinds of habitat exist, even far away from town. And that means choosing which species survive.” Kapoor’s careful and thorough reporting...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Silver

“How Covid-19 can be more and less deadly than we knew” June 4, 2020

Vox

Joss Fong, Áron Filkey and Joey Sendaydiego of Vox took a close look at COVID-19 case fatality rates, weaving a narrative that included emotional human stories and underlying pandemic statistics. The video used white- and blue-colored lights as a visual representation of fatality statistics, digging into how excess deaths are calculated, and distinguishing the important difference between the case fatality rate and the fatality rate for all who may be infected, whether diagnosed or not. Larry Engel, associate professor at American University’s School of Communication, said that the video “...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Silver

"The Blob: A Genius Without a Brain" March 21, 2020

Hauteville Productions for ARTE (France)

The Blob, a creature out of a science fiction horror film, has given its name to a baffling single-celled organism that has puzzled scientists around the world. Neither plant, animal nor mushroom, the organism ― called a slime mold ― has no eyes, mouth, stomach, or legs. But the researchers interviewed by the French team say it can, in effect, see, smell, digest and move around purposefully. It has neither a nervous system nor a brain, but it can solve problems and devise strategies as it moves. The Blob, whose scientific name is Physarum polycephalum, is being studied by biologists,...Read more

Audio

Silver

"Victoria Gray's Journey" Dec. 25, 2019

NPR

"Doctors Use CRISPR To Treat Patient With Genetic Disorder" July 29, 2019

"A Year In, 1st Patient To Get Gene Editing For Sickle Cell Disease Is Thriving" June 23, 2020

In three stories from NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Rob Stein and his colleagues Joe Neel and Jane Greenhalgh told the story of Victoria Gray, a patient with sickle cell disease who received the first use of a groundbreaking new CRISPR treatment for her genetic disorder. Stein followed the emotional narrative with grace and care, exploring both the science and the impact that science has on human lives. The third piece of the series followed up with Gray a year later, during a pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests. Rich Monastersky, chief features editor for Nature in Washington, D...Read more

Children's Science News

Silver

“Virion: A Tale of Coronavirus for Old School Comic Fans” May 5, 2020

Kompas.com

“Virion: A Tale of Coronavirus for Old School Comic Fans – Part 2” June 15, 2020

“Virion: An Interactive Quest to Find Covid-19 Vaccine” July 9, 2020

A team of Indonesian journalists and graphic artists for Kompas.com used a comic book format to explore the biology of the novel coronavirus that triggered a global pandemic. In a three-part series with 11- to 14-year-olds in mind, the team did not shy away from complexity and encouraged young readers to go on a journey of discovery. The series tells how coronaviruses were first identified, the changing understanding of their modes of action and impact on humans, and how science itself has been changing during the COVID-19 pandemic as researchers rely on new ways to get the latest...Read more