Award Winners

2020

Science Reporting – Large Outlet

Gold

"Hollowed -Out Public Health System Faces More Cuts Amid Virus" July 1, 2020

Kaiser Health News and The Associated Press

Lauren Weber, Laura Ungar, Hannah Recht and Anna Maria Barry-Jester of Kaiser Health News teamed up with Michelle R. Smith of The Associated Press for an extensive investigation  into decades of public health defunding that has exacerbated the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The team uncovered just how ill-equipped state and local health programs had become when the pandemic hit. When a bungled federal response left local health departments to often fend for themselves, the pandemic placed an overwhelming new strain on these underfunded systems. The reporters spoke with “more...Read more

Science Reporting – Small Outlet

Gold

"Tana River Basin Under Threat" Sept. 17, 2019

Science Africa

In the opening of his piece, freelancer Geoffrey Kamadi described in some detail the flora and fauna of Kenya’s Tana River Basin, a biodiversity hotspot with a dozen protected areas. “But looks might be deceiving,” he noted. “As a matter of fact, all indications suggest that this almost fantastic, even story-book portrayal of nature in its largely intact and unperturbed splendor, belies an ecological tragedy that is gradually unfolding.” Kamadi went on to explain that five dams on the Tana River have reduced the outflow of fresh water to the Indian Ocean, allowing salty sea water to flow...Read more

Science Reporting – In-Depth

Gold

"How the Pandemic Will End" March 25, 2020

The Atlantic

"Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing" April 29, 2020

The Atlantic

"America's Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further" May 20, 2020

The Atlantic

Ed Yong of The Atlantic told his readers some hard truths about the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists and public health specialists had long warned that such a global outbreak was inevitable. The United States ― despite its high score on the Global Health Security Index ― failed to measure up when tested by the novel coronavirus, partly because the White House had become what Yong called a “ghost town of scientific expertise.” In March when the pandemic was starting to grab hold in the U.S., Yong wrote: “Rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated, America has mishandled the...Read more

Magazine

Gold

"Behind the front lines of the Ebola wars" Sept. 11, 2019

Nature

In a gripping look at a public health crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Amy Maxmen told how responders from the World Health Organization battled not only the deadly Ebola virus in a time of violent political unrest, but also deep-seated suspicion of outsiders by local residents who had suffered from more than a century of conflict, exploitation and neglect from their government and the world at large. Despite efforts of about 700 WHO staff ― almost all of them African ― in cities and towns where Ebola was spreading, Maxmen wrote that the death rate was soaring at 67% because the...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

"A Beautiful New Blue Makes Its Debut" April 28, 2020

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s engaging segment told how Mas Subramanian and his team at Oregon State University discovered a new shade of blue. Director Jes Burns recounted the history of YInMn Blue’s discovery and development. The new color was first created when a graduate student on Subramanian’s team heated manganese oxide for an unrelated experiment. The surprising result was a vibrant new shade of blue that is extremely stable and uniquely suited for commercial use. “I was blown away by the new blue,” said freelance journalist and author Angela Saini, “Such a clever little segment,...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Gold

"Jim Allison: Breakthrough" April 27, 2020

Uncommon Productions for PBS Independent Lens

Bill Haney, writer, producer and director of “Jim Allison: Breakthrough,” tells the story of an unconventional scientist and his path to a Nobel Prize. Shattered as a youth by the loss of his mother to cancer, Allison became a headstrong, long-haired, music-loving student fascinated with the immune system and its potential for combatting cancer. He eventually led a research team exploring the mechanisms of T-cells, the immune system’s hunter-killer cells. In the 1990s, his team and another group showed there was a molecule on T-cells that acts like an off switch or a brake pedal when T-...Read more

Audio

Gold

"Coronavirus: Will Chloroquine Save Us?" March 26, 2020

Science Vs (from Gimlet Media)

"Coronavirus: Was It Made In a Lab?" April 24, 2020

"Coronavirus: How Many Silent Spreaders Are There?" May 1, 2020

In three episodes of Gimlet Media’s “Science Vs” podcast, Australian podcaster and host Wendy Zukerman and the "Science Vs" team dug into the science behind three coronavirus controversies. The first investigated the legitimacy of chloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. Zukerman expertly explained the mechanisms that made this medication a consideration for coronavirus treatment and takes a deeper look at some of the studies that prompted the initial chloroquine hype. BBC science correspondent Victoria Gill said the podcast’s ability to “get to grips so quickly with such a fast-...Read more

Children's Science News

Gold

"Sniffing for Scat"

Cricket Magazine April 2020

Tracy Vonder Brink introduced her young readers to Eba, the conservation canine, who helps scientists find floating scat from orcas, also called killer whales. By studying the scat, the researchers can learn a lot about the health and diet of the animals ― and the pregnancy status of the females ― without disturbing them. “All kids are fascinated with poop, but that's not what makes this story so fantastic,” said judge Christine Dell’Amore, senior editor on the animals desk at National Geographic. “The approach of using Eba as a ‘spokesdog’ for orca conservation is an ingenious way to...Read more

2019

Large Newspaper

Gold

“Orcas thrive in a land to the north -- Why are Puget Sound's dying?” Nov. 11, 2018

THE SEATTLE TIMES

“Hunger: The decline of salmon adds to the struggle of Puget Sound’s orcas” February 24, 2019

“The roar below: How our noise is hurting orcas’ search for salmon” May 19, 2019

Lynda Mapes and her colleagues explored the plight of the southern resident killer whales, among the most enduring symbols of the Puget Sound region and among the region’s most endangered animals. They examined the role humans have played in the decline of the orcas, what can be done about it and why it matters. They looked at why Canadian orcas are healthy and growing in numbers while Puget Sound orcas are fighting for survival. They explored the relationship between chinook salmon and the southern resident orca pods, with both species struggling for survival after a century of...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Gold

“The Next Pompeii” Feb. 20, 2019

A NOVA production by Lion Television and At Land Productions for WGBH Boston in association with ARTE France

Weaving together archaeology, volcanology and geophysics, “The Next Pompeii” creates a vivid and thorough exploration of the tectonic activity around Naples, Italy. The NOVA documentary digs deep into the history of the city to uncover current geological threats to the region and warn locals about the possibility of a future volcanic disaster. While Vesuvius destroyed ancient Pompeii, a lesser known volcano called Campi Flegrei has the potential to be far more destructive than its more famous neighbor, endangering millions of residents in and around Naples. Scientists have enhanced a...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

“Dying soil: An invisible crisis at our feet” April 27, 2019

France 24

Mairead Dundas and Marina Bertsch tackled the disappearance of top soil in their award-winning France 24 video. Through interviews with soil scientists, local farmers and specialists for food producer Nestle, they described the impact of industrial farming on soils in one region of France as an example of a much larger global trend. “One third of the world’s top soil has already been degraded,” Dundas explained, and that could have detrimental impacts on food production, erosion control and carbon sequestration. The answer? Some farmers suggest an alternative farming practice called...Read more

Small Newspaper

Gold

“Does Norway hold the key to clean air?” Oct. 21, 2018

“Winter is coming and so is bad air” Nov. 18, 2018

“The politics of clean air” Dec. 26, 2018

DESERET NEWS

In three related stories on Salt Lake City’s growing air pollution problem, Erica Evans investigated many of the ways the city has failed to implement change. Evans took a creative approach to a difficult topic, focusing on potential solutions and drawing inspiration from comparable cities. Her first story begins in Oslo, Norway, where Evans draws a direct parallel between the Norwegian city and Salt Lake City — both are heavily polluted regions that experience weather patterns in which polluted air is trapped close to the ground during winter. In Oslo, though, the city is successfully...Read more

Magazine

Gold

“The Plague Years: How the rise of right-wing nationalism is jeopardizing the world’s health” April 2019

THE NEW REPUBLIC

Maryn McKenna took a comprehensive look at the global history of public health and disease outbreaks, drawing a parallel between today’s public health crisis and a global rise in political and religious nationalism. She confronted many of the misconceptions that have been popularized by right-wing nationalist groups and debunked them with a series of carefully researched case studies. The spread of misinformation has led to a global crisis that needs immediate attention, McKenna found. “No matter where it has surfaced,” she wrote, “the nativist assault on public health is gaining traction...Read more

Audio

Gold

“A Sense of Time” April 2, 2019

BBC Radio 4

Is time experienced differently by different animals? Are squirrels, tortoises and pesky flies literally living their lives at different speeds than us? Such questions were at the heart of “A Sense of Time,” a delightful look at the physiology of time perception by different species, with a dollop of philosophy thrown in for good measure. Research has shown that animals do experience life at different temporal resolutions, with humans seeing the world at 60 frames per second and some insect species seeing it at as fast as 400 frames per second. Such abilities allow birds to catch flies in...Read more

Online

Gold

“The maddening saga of how an Alzheimer’s ‘cabal’ thwarted progress toward a cure for decades” June 25, 2019

“How an outsider in Alzheimer’s research bucked the prevailing theory — and clawed for validation” Oct. 29, 2019

“As Alzheimer’s drug developers give up on today’s patients, where is the outrage?” Aug. 15, 2018

STAT

Sharon Begley described how the dogmatic belief that beta-amyloid deposits cause Alzheimer’s disease has stymied research into other possible explanations of the disease, including inflammation and infection. Several scientists said those who controlled the Alzheimer’s research agenda were a “cabal” that influenced what studies were published in top journals, which scientists got funded, who got tenure and who received invitations to speak at scientific conferences. George Perry, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas–San Antonio, told Begley that scientists who didn't go along with...Read more

Children's Science News

Gold

“The Science of Whiskers” April 5, 2019

Tumble Science Podcast for Kids

“The Cave of the Underground Astronauts” January 11, 2019

“Why do seals have whiskers?” wondered six-year-old Karah from Baltimore, Maryland. In “The Science of Whiskers,” the Tumble Science Podcast for Kids team was determined to find out. They interviewed “whisker scientist” Robyn Grant and explored how animals use whiskers “just like we use our senses to navigate our world.” Their second award-winning podcast on “The Cave of the Underground Astronauts” adopted the same sense of curiosity, with the podcast team interviewing archaeologists working in a subterranean cave in South Africa. The “underground astronauts” Skype in from 30 meters...Read more