Award Winners

2022

Science Reporting – Large Outlet

Silver

Anatomy of a Killer

Sϋddeutsche Zeitung -- January 7, 2022

Throughout much of 2020, the World Health Organization maintained that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads through relatively large respiratory droplets that are expelled by infected people while coughing, sneezing or speaking. It took many months for the agency to acknowledge that the virus could travel on tiny particles called aerosols that can spread widely and linger in the air. What happens inside the aerosol particles and how does the virus get into the lungs and cells of a new victim? A research team led by biophysicist Rommie Amaro of the University of California...Read more

Science Reporting – Small Outlet

Silver

A California Water Board Assures the Public that Oil Wastewater Is Safe for Irrigation, But Experts Say the Evidence Is Scant

Inside Climate News -- February 6, 2022

After years of controversy, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in California assured the public that eating local crops irrigated with oil field wastewater “creates no identifiable increased health risks,” based on studies commissioned as part of an extensive Food Safety Project. Yet a review of the science and interviews with a public health scientist affiliated with the project and other experts, Liza Gross and contributor Anne Marshall-Chalmers reported, showed little evidence to support the board’s safety claims. GSI Environmental, a “neutral, third-party...Read more

Science Reporting – In-Depth

Silver

Meet the scientist at the center of the covid lab leak controversy

MIT Technology Review -- February 9, 2022

In a deeply reported 10,000-word story on the controversy over the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing-based science writer Jane Qiu gained unparalleled access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the lab of Shi Zhengli. Known as China’s “bat woman,” Shi has devoted her career to tracing links between coronaviruses in bats and human disease. Shi’s lab was the first to isolate the deadly new virus and the first to sequence its genome. Shi has been subject to intense international scrutiny and charges that an errant virus from her lab rather than a...Read more

Magazine

Silver

Don’t Look Down -- As permafrost thaws, the ground beneath Alaska is collapsing

Grist -- April 20, 2022

Temperatures in Fairbanks, Alaska have risen so much that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officially changed the city’s subarctic definition in 2021 to “warm summer continental.” As the climate warms, the ancient permafrost that covered an estimated 85 percent of Alaska is thawing, leaving places where the ground is now collapsing. As Lois Parshley writes in her award-winning piece, spruce trees “lean drunkenly” in places where “only a thin layer of soil covers yawning craters where the ice has vanished.” The disappearance of the ice has fundamentally changed how and...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Silver

The bizarre COVID side effect no one Is talking about

A subset of COVID-19 survivors suffers from an unexpected side effect known as parosmia, a condition that causes the sense of smell to go haywire. Coffee smells like sewage and chicken smells like rotting garbage. Yara Elmjouie and his colleagues set out to learn how COVID-19 is doing this to people, and what life is like when you smell and taste all the wrong things with no end in sight. “Through fascinating case studies, we learn not only how devastating COVID-19 symptoms have been for certain people, but also learn to appreciate the one sense we often take for granted—taste,” said judge...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Silver

Ice Age Footprints

A NOVA Production by Windfall Films, Ltd. (part of the Argonon Group) for GBH -- May 25, 2022

Thousands of ancient footprints left by Ice Age humans and animals stretch for miles across the blinding white landscape of New Mexico’s White Sands National Park. The prints capture moments when humans crossed paths with now-extinct Ice Age beasts, including mammoths, enormous ground sloths, dire wolves, and camels. Tracks usually disappear soon after they are made, but in a place like White Sands, where the chemistry is just right, the tracks can last for thousands of years, hidden beneath the dunes. A team of experts is now investigating how these tracks could show new evidence of...Read more

Audio

Silver

Does it fart?

ABC Science (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) -- July1, 2022

In a savvy episode of its “What the Duck” radio show, ABC Science in Australia took on a topic not often broached in polite circles but one that has intrigued zoologists and others curious about animal behavior―Does it fart? From whales, manatees and herring to chimps, bonobos, Tasmanian devils and hognose snakes, the program provided answers to its central question and discussed the science behind using farts as a means of communication, defense, change in buoyancy for sea creatures, and even predatory advantage in the case of beaded lacewing larvae that expel a chemical mix that...Read more

Children's Science News

Silver

On a journey to finding a happy zoo

Kids Donga Science (South Korea) -- November 15, 2021

Home for lost animals, Sanctuary

Kids Donga Science -- December 1, 2021

In an ambitiously comprehensive look at the state of South Korea’s zoos, Kids Donga Science enlisted children as “Zoo Guards” to help report on regulated and unregulated zoos near their homes. Under the guidance of veterinarians and other professionals, the teams of children found more than 150 facilities that did not need to register as zoos because they housed fewer than 10 species or 50 individual animals. Most of them were animal experience centers such as raccoon cafes and parrot cafes, which have been surging in number and which have raised concerns about possible zoonotic...Read more

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