Award Winners

2017

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

“Why there could be many identical copies of you”

BBC Earth

Reporter Melissa Hogenboom and video producer Pierangelo Pirak entered the world of quantum weirdness, grappling in a visually engaging fashion with the theory that there may be multiple universes beyond our own. Equally intriguing ─ and unsettling ─ is the possibility that we may have cosmic twins very much like ourselves living in alternate universes. The ideas, usually confined to discussions among physicists and cosmologists, are driven by the mathematics of inflation theory and quantum mechanics. Hogenboom and Pirak explore the implications with several of the world’s leading...Read more

Silver

“How moss revealed an undetected air pollution threat in Portland”

PBS NewsHour

“These robots are helping answer a huge unknown about young marine life”

PBS NewsHour

Cat Wise and her colleagues offered solid reporting on the uses of science to better understand the nearby environment. Researchers in Portland found that mosses from two neighborhoods had high levels of cadmium and arsenic, likely from a nearby glassmaking center. Using data from air quality monitoring stations, the researchers determined that mosses could be used as indicators of air pollution and allow a more comprehensive method for tracking potential problems in local air quality.  In a second piece, Wise explained how a marine ecologist is using robots (with casings made from...Read more

2016

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

“A primer on the Paris climate conference” - 23 Nov. 2015

BBC Newsnight, BBC World

 

Setting the stage for what proved to be a landmark conference on climate change in Paris, Rebecca Morelle and Stuart Denman traveled to a high-altitude research laboratory in the Swiss Alps to talk with scientists who have been keeping an eye on rising levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the broadcast, Morelle reviewed the history of global negotiations to control human-generated atmospheric emissions, including the successful effort to reduce substances that damage Earth’s protective ozone layer. In interviews with the UN official in charge of...Read more

Silver

What a smell looks like” - 21 June 2016

PBS NewsHour

 

Nsikan Akpan told viewers how odors swirl through the air like turbulent dyes flowing through water. The physics of movement in each medium is similar, scientists say, and understanding how odors propagate through the environment could be an important step in developing better artificial “noses” to detect hidden explosives or chemical weapons or other contraband of interest. Such studies also are laying the groundwork for a nationwide study on how humans and animals use smells to map their surroundings. “The NewsHour takes a cue from YouTube with this innovative snapshot of...Read more

2015

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

2014

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

"The Ecology of Fear" - 4 Mar. 2014

KCTS 9 / QUEST

 

Michael Werner explored the return of wolves to the Cascade Mountains in Washington state and the impact they could have on a vast wilderness area where prey species must learn to cope with their new neighbors. He reported on the work of biologist Aaron Wirsing, who uses a simple video camera (a "deer cam") to study predator/prey relationships and provide insights on how we think about wolves. The judges applauded Werner's piece as a good example of enterprising science journalism at the local level. "Discussions around wolves are too often fueled by passion rather than...Read more

2013

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

"Adrien Treuille Profile" - 14 November 2012

NOVA scienceNow

 

Joshua Seftel won the television award for spot news/feature reporting for a NOVA scienceNOW segment on Adrien Treuille, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. Treuille has harnessed the brainpower of thousands of people who play computer games as a way to help solve difficult problems such as protein folding. David Baron, health and science editor for Public Radio International's "The World" and a contest judge, said Seftel's segment "brought energy and artistry to a topic that could easily be dry. A great concept, brilliantly executed."

 Treuille...Read more

2012

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

"Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct: Big Fixes for Big Quakes" - 9 Nov. 2011

KQED/QUEST

 

Much of the Hetch Hetchy water delivery system for the San Francisco Bay Area was built in the 1920s and 1930s with riveted steel pipes that don’t perform well during earthquakes. At a cost of $4.6 billion, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has been installing new pipes and employing state-of-the-art engineering elements. In a solid mix of historical footage and on-the-scene reporting, with an appreciation for the challenges involved, KQED’s Sheraz Sadiq explained the engineering steps being undertaken to protect the Bay Area’s water supply. Guy Gugliotta, a...Read more

2011

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

"Going Up: Sea Level Rise in San Francisco Bay" - 31 Aug. 2010

KQED/QUEST Climate Watch

 

A team from KQED, San Francisco, looked at the potential impact of sea level rise on the San Francisco Bay. The QUEST/Climate Watch co-production “used the visual medium of television effectively as it laid out the facts—and uncertainties—surrounding rising sea levels,” said Richard Harris, a science correspondent for NPR who served as a judge.

Along with the rest of the world’s oceans and estuaries, San Francisco Bay is rising. The changes are slow and barely perceptible, but even the most optimistic estimates about how high and how quickly this rise will occur...Read more

2010

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

2009

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