Award Winners

2022

Science Reporting – Large Outlet

Gold

This tree has stood here for 500 years. Will it be sold for $17,500?

The Washington Post -- December 30, 2021

In an evocative piece from Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, reporter Juliet Eilperin and photographer Salwan Georges use a single majestic Sitka spruce tree, the height of a 17-story building, to spotlight the battle over the fate of increasingly scarce old-growth timber. The tree is estimated to contain at least 6,000 board feet of lumber worth $17,500. Just as impressively, it has locked up nearly 12 metric tons of carbon dioxide in its fibers, a repository for the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that threaten humanity. “Covered in a riotous mix of pale lichens and deep-green moss,”...Read more

Science Reporting – Small Outlet

Gold

Off Balance

FiftyTwo (India) -- April 15, 2022

In rural India, a rare genetic disease called spinocerebellar ataxia has been causing people to gradually lose control over their body movements. As Ankur Paliwal writes, “Eventually many ataxia patients in resource-strapped countries like India end up spending their days in bed, dependent on others, until they die.” Patients with the disorder “remain invisible to the health system,” he writes, “because they don’t have popular champions. Institutional support for ataxia is almost negligible.” Paliwal describes the work of a few determined scientists and doctors who have been trying to...Read more

Science Reporting – In-Depth

Gold

The Smoke Comes Every Year. Sugar Companies Say the Air Is Safe.

The Palm Beach Post and ProPublica -- July 8, 2021

“A Complete Failure of the State”: Authorities Didn’t Heed Researchers’ Calls to Study Health Effects of Burning Sugar Cane

The Palm Beach Post and ProPublica -- August 19, 2021

Burning Sugar Cane Pollutes Communities of Color in Florida. Brazil Shows There’s Another Way.

The Palm Beach Post and ProPublica -- December 29, 2021

For years, residents in the Glades area of west central Florida have breathed smoke from sugar cane fires, set six months of every year as a pre-harvest practice. Locals call the ash that rains down on the community during burning season “black snow.” While sugar companies and regulators offer assurances that the air is safe, The Palm Beach Post and ProPublica used their own monitoring equipment to show repeated spikes in pollution on days when the state had authorized cane burning. Experts were concerned, saying the short-term spikes, which often reached four times the...Read more

Magazine

Gold

How rising groundwater caused by climate change could devastate coastal communities

MIT Technology Review -- December 13, 2021

Unlike rising seas, where the dangers are obvious, groundwater rise has remained under the public’s radar during the growing concern about climate change, Kendra Pierre-Louis reported. Hydrologists are aware of the problem, and it is the subject of ample scholarly research, she wrote, “but it has yet to surface in a significant way outside of those bubbles.” Groundwater rise is only briefly mentioned in the most recent edition of the National Climate Assessment, released in 2018, she reported, and it is absent from many state and regional climate adaptation plans, and even from flood maps...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

Deep Look: Honeypot Ants Turn Their Biggest Sisters into Jugs of Nectar

KQED and PBS Digital Studios -- April 5, 2022

Deep Look: Barnacles Go To Unbelievable Lengths To Hook Up

KQED and PBS Digital Studios -- April 26, 2022

Deep Look: Don't Go Chasing Water Bugs

KQED and PBS Digital Studios -- June 28, 2022

The long-running Deep Look series, created by KQED San Francisco and distributed by PBS Digital Studios, takes viewers into the world of the very small, where organisms like honeypot ants, acorn barnacles and giant water bugs thrive and reproduce. The filmmakers explore unusual creatures doing unusual things at the edge of the visible world, like the honeypot ants who turn their biggest sisters into engorged jugs of nectar to help feed the ant colony. Or the male water bugs whose fatherhood chores include carrying fertilized eggs on their backs, bringing them to the water’s surface...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Gold

My Garden of a Thousand Bees

PBS Nature -- October 20, 2021

For more than 30 years, Martin Dohrn filmed wild animals around the world. Suddenly locked down at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he became fascinated with the wild bees that inhabit his city garden. “Turning my cameras onto my own back yard is revealing things as spectacular as anything I have ever seen before,” he tells his viewers. “Transporting me to another universe. Another dimension of existence.” The resulting documentary is an exercise in citizen science, driven by Dohrn’s deep appreciation and understanding of the more than 60 species of bees he found and observed in his...Read more

Audio

Gold

A Talking Gorilla

VICE News -- A Show About Animals -- November 3, 2021

A Gorilla Who Lied

VICE News -- A Show About Animals -- November 10, 2021

Uptown Chimp

VICE News -- A Show About Animals -- November 17, 2021

In a podcast series on the highly visible and often controversial efforts to teach gorillas and chimpanzees to learn sign language, Arielle Duhaime-Ross and colleagues reviewed the history of Project Koko, started in the 1970s by a young psychologist named Penny Patterson who claimed to have taught a gorilla named Koko to learn more than 1,000 signs. Koko became world-famous, with her picture on the cover of National Geographic, but designing language isn’t straightforward and critics suggested that Koko was simply being prompted by her trainers' unconscious cues to display specific signs...Read more

Children's Science News

Gold

Cockatoos learn from each other how to open garbage bin

Science News Explores -- October 26, 2021

A panda stands out at the zoo but blends in the wild

Science News Explores -- December 15, 2021

Goldfish driving ‘cars’ offer new insight into navigation

Science News Explores -- February 16, 2022

The judges liked the cartoon format in these stories from Science News Explores (formerly known as Science News for Students), published by Science News Media Group. The stories discussed how cockatoos teach each other how to open garbage bins, how pandas stand out in zoos but blend into their environment in the wild, and how researchers managed to put goldfish in the driver’s seat in an experimental apparatus that allows them to maneuver across a room. “I loved all three stories and the wonderful way the well-written text jibed with the comics,” said judge...Read more

2021

Science Reporting – Large Outlet

Gold

"A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air" Oct. 29, 2020

El País (Spain)

The judges praised the El País entry for examining the risks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 at a time when understanding of the aerosol spread of the disease was still developing. The virus is most contagious in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, the story said, and the danger can be reduced by applying all available measures to inhibit infection via aerosols. The story provided a detailed overview of the likelihood of infection in three everyday scenarios―aerosol spread at a social gathering in a living room; in a bar with reduced capacity; and in a school classroom...Read more

Science Reporting – Small Outlet

Gold

"Succession" Jan.29, 2021

FiftyTwo (India)

India is considered “megadiverse,” with one of the largest number of species found nowhere else in the world. And as Aathira Perinchery described in her award-winning story, discovering new species is now a common occurrence in India. “It excites people in evolutionary biology and conservation communities,” she wrote, “but remains otherwise undissected in the popular imagination.” New scientific methods and more explorations have led to more frequent reports of new species and to a better understanding of what they mean, Perinchery says. “Some are clues to the past: what was the earth like...Read more

Science Reporting – In-Depth

Gold

"What's Going on Inside the Fearsome Thunderstorms of Córdoba Province?" July 22, 2020

The New York Times Magazine

Noah Gallagher Shannon created a storm chaser story for a new and undetermined meteorological landscape. As climate change increases both the size and intensity of storms worldwide, atmospheric scientists are struggling to predict stronger and increasingly erratic weather patterns. For some scientists, “the chaos wrought by climate change requires radically rethinking some of meteorology’s core concepts,” writes Shannon. One group of scientists, led by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Steve Nesbitt, is studying the monster storms in northern Argentina to produce a...Read more

Magazine

Gold

"Fatal Flaw" (print title) July/August 2021

Wired

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia Tech aerosol scientist Linsey Marr and her colleagues met with the World Health Organization to warn them about airborne virus spread. At the time, the organization ignored their warning, insisting that the coronavirus disperses primarily through droplets that did not hang in the air and fell quickly to the ground. Their droplet argument led to guidelines centered around hand washing and social distancing rather than mask use. The WHO’s initial guidance was based on a misinformed definition of aerosols which specified that all...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

"How Bison Are Saving America's Lost Prairie" Jan. 14, 2021

PBS

"Inside the Fight to Save an Ancient Forest (and the Secrets It Holds)" July 1, 2021

PBS

In their PBS Terra videos, Michael Werner, Joe Hanson, Rachel Raney and Brandon Arolfo explore the ongoing attempts to save two threatened ecosystems―the American prairie and the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. “How Bison Are Saving America’s Lost Prairie” focuses on the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in northeastern Oklahoma, a 40,000-acre expanse where scientists from The Nature Conservancy are using bison to restore the area’s ecosystem after years of destructive overgrazing by cattle. The herd of more than 2,000 bison now helps foster the ecosystem’s rich...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Gold

"Picture a Scientist" April 14, 2021

A NOVA Production by Uprising LLC for GBH Boston

“Picture a Scientist” invites viewers to imagine science as a more diverse, equitable and welcoming enterprise than historically has been the norm. It describes the experiences of three women—biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks and geologist Jane Willenbring—who were subject to subtle slights and, in some cases, brutal harassment as they sought to build careers in science. Women still make up less than a quarter of STEM professionals in the United States, with the numbers even lower for women of color such as Burks. The film combines powerful personal stories with compelling...Read more

Audio

Gold

"Quirks & Quarks: Black in science special" Feb. 27, 2021

CBC/Radio-Canada

Amanada Buckiewicz and Nicole Mortillaro, producers for a special edition of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s long-running “Quirks & Quarks” program, looked at the past and future of Black people in science. The episode examined the history of biased and false "race science" that led to misunderstanding and mistreatment of Black people by the scientific and medical community, creating obstacles for them to participate in the scientific process. Buckiewicz and Mortillaro spoke to Black researchers about their work and how they are trying to increase recognition for the...Read more

Children's Science News

Gold

“Why bird nests aren't covered in poop” Sept. 2, 2020

Vox

“The secret history of dirt” Sept. 3, 2020

Vox

"How to be a Cloud Detective" Sept. 4, 2020

Vox

In the first of three award-winning segments, the Vox team uses the discovery of a bird’s nest on a porch swing as an opportunity to view hatchling robins closely and answer some important questions about bird life, including why the crowded nest is not eventually covered in bird poop. It turns out the newborns present their poop to their parents in convenient fecal sacs, which the adults gladly remove from the nest. The other segments on the secret history of dirt and the identification of clouds are equally captivating, the judges found. “These are engaging videos for adults as well as...Read more