Award Winners

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 chainn 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

2019

Large Newspaper

Silver

“La science au chevet de Notre-Dame” July 10, 2019

(“At the bedside of Notre Dame”)

Le Monde

Nathaniel Herzberg described the work of scientists trying to understand the past and potential future of Notre Dame cathedral in the wake of the devastating fire that nearly destroyed the historic structure in April 2019. The cathedral debris offers a wealth of insight into more than eight centuries of the structure’s architectural history. From the first night, art historians, archaeologists and curators helped firefighters save as much of the cathedral as possible. Once the real extent of the damage was known, teams of scientists were organized to explore the cathedral’s structure and...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Silver

“How to See a Black Hole: The Universe’s Greatest Mystery” April 10, 2019

Windfall Films for Smithsonian Networks and the BBC, in association with NHK, Canal+ and Welt24

"Black Hole Hunters" April 12, 2019

The Windfall Films documentary followed the Event Horizon Telescope team as they captured the first-ever image of a black hole. The video spans two years, telling the inside story of the final moments of a decade-long project as it occurred in real time. The project combined eight radio telescopes from around world, including the South Pole, to make a synchronized, planet-wide telescope capable of observing radio emissions associated with black holes. Based on theory and observations, the existence of black holes — from which no light can escape — has long been accepted by scientists...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Silver

“Greenland – OMG Expedition” Oct. 3, 2018

VICE News Tonight

In a striking VICE News Tonight segment, the VICE team traveled to Knud Rasmussen Glacier in eastern Greenland to investigate the mechanisms behind glacial melt and sea level rise. They met up with NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland expedition — OMG for short — to learn how ocean water has a major impact on Greenland’s disappearing glacial ice. Scientists on the expedition are finding that warming ocean currents, hundreds of meters beneath the ocean surface, are by far “the biggest and most overlooked source of glacial melt.” The segment focused on the scientific process and emphasized the...Read more

Small Newspaper

Silver

“Unlocking Science in Idaho” Nov. 25, 2018

DESERET NEWS

Three pieces by Amy Joi O’Donoghue, published on the same day, provided a comprehensive look at the history, future and current impact on Utah residents of the nearby Idaho National Laboratory. O’Donoghue investigated the lab’s current research, describing important projects and their significance for the local area. In a second piece, she focused on the future of the lab’s partnership with NuScale’s Carbon Free Power Project. The project, which could provide clean nuclear energy to Utah residents by 2026, has stirred up local controversy among legislators and energy companies. The last of...Read more

Magazine

Silver

“Caucher Birkar — from asylum seeker to Fields Medal winner at Cambridge” April 2019

The Times Magazine (London)

Caucher Birkar grew up in a Kurdish peasant family in a war zone in Iran. An older brother started teaching him mathematics beyond what was in his textbooks, and he won acceptance into Tehran University, where his interest in math was further nurtured. But he eventually applied for asylum in Britain and was arbitrarily settled in Nottingham, where he lived with three other asylum seekers, unable to work and paying for food with vouchers. While in a “bureaucratic purgatory,” as Tom Whipple of The Times of London, describes it, Birkar benefited from a happy circumstance. The local...Read more

Audio

Silver

“The Fourth Astronaut” June 10, 2019

“Saving 1968” June 17, 2019

“We’re go for Powered Descent” July 1, 2019

BBC World Service

In three episodes of a 12-part podcast and radio series about the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, the BBC team used archival materials and extensive new interviews to explain the technology and engineering advances that made the mission a success. They described in exquisite detail the design and development of the “fourth astronaut,” the 70-pound onboard flight computer that made everything possible and which also presented some daunting last-minute challenges for mission controllers and pilot Neil Armstrong as the Eagle lander rapidly approached the lunar surface. The producers described...Read more

Online

Silver

“The Impossibly Cute Pika’s Survival May Say Something About Our Future” May 9, 2019

InsideClimate News

Nicholas Kusnetz described the painstaking work of biologist Chris Ray who has been tracking the American pika, a fist-sized denizen of the western mountains of the United States, for more than 30 years. It is “one of the longest-running research projects of one of the West’s most adorable creatures,” Kusnetz wrote.  He added, “The rabbit relatives are highly sensitive to temperature changes. They live high in the mountains, where temperatures are warming faster than the global average. And because pikas occupy a habitat that's critical to life across the West—mountain snowmelt is the...Read more

Children's Science News

Silver

“Rare-plant hunters race against time to save at-risk species” February 7, 2019

Science News for Students (online magazine)

In her winning entry, Canadian science writer Sharon Oosthoek followed efforts by scientists trying to save Hawaii’s endangered alula, a plant that once was widely used in decorative leis. She lured her readers into the story from the outset, writing: “Somewhere on a windswept cliff on the edge of the Hawaiian island of Kauai grows a plant that looks like a cabbage on a stick. It’s the last wild plant of its kind, and its exact location is a closely guarded secret.” Oosthoek described efforts by horticulturists to save that last, lonely plant by cultivating offspring in greenhouses and...Read more