Award Winners

2016

Large Newspaper

Silver

“Narben am Grund - Scars in the Ground” - 23 Mar. 2016

Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich)

 

In 1989, German scientists plowed a patch of sea floor off Ecuador to study the possible effects of deep sea mining. They monitored the ten-square-kilometer plot for a few years and then moved on. In the summer of 2015, a new German research vessel returned to the site to explore what had happened in the 26 years since the first excavations in the fragile ecosystem. They found life on the sea floor had scarcely recovered. Not even bacteria have managed to fully recolonize the scars in the ocean floor, researchers found. Other species have never returned. Some...Read more

Small Newspaper

Silver

“Graying of HIV: After 35 years of the AIDS virus, a generation makes new medical history” - 5 June 2016

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

 

More than half of the 1.25 million Americans infected by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV) are age 50 or older, Barbara Peters Smith reported in her award-winning piece. In just four years, that share should reach 70 percent. “As the longevity boom collides with a resurgence of HIV diagnoses nationwide, scientists are just now learning how this persistent, incurable virus ─ along with the powerful drugs that keep it at bay ─ takes a toll on the body that makes natural aging look like a gift,” she wrote. People with HIV experience age-related changes in their DNA more...Read more

Magazine

Silver

“The Forgotten Continent” - 14 July 2016

“Listening for Landslides” - 28 Apr. 2016

“Trouble in Tibet” - 14 Jan. 2016

Nature

 

In a trio of stories from China, Nepal and Tibet, Beijing-based freelancer Jane Qiu described how fossil finds in China are challenging ideas about the evolution of modern humans and our closest relatives; how rapid changes in Tibetan grasslands are threatening Asia’s main water supply and the livelihood of nomads; and how scientists are wiring up mountainsides in Nepal to monitor and forecast heightened landslide hazards in the wake of the devastating Nepalese earthquake in 2015. The judges praised Qiu’s initiative and in-the-field reporting skills. Her piece on...Read more

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

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

Television: In-Depth Reporting

Silver

“Making North America” Origins

“Making North America” Life

“Making North America” Human

Windfall Films (London) for NOVA/WGBH

 

The three-part NOVA series on “Making North America” describes how powerful geological forces formed a continent, how life evolved on that continent, how humans first set foot on North America, and what surprises the continent’s changing landscape may have in store for us. The lushly photographed series, with stunning computer graphics that recreate a world of tectonic upheaval, provides a look deep into our planet’s history. Paleontologist Kirk Johnson, an enthusiastic and fearless guide, takes viewers on an extended field trip to some of the most stunning locales on the...Read more

Audio

Silver

“Hidden Brain” podcast ─ “When Great Minds Think Unlike: Inside Science’s ‘Replication Crisis’ ” - 24 May 2016

NPR

 

NPR’s Shankar Vedantam and his producers explored why findings in scientific studies may fail to hold up when other researchers try to reproduce them. The issue was spotlighted in 2015 when University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek and a consortium of colleagues reported they had been able to reproduce the original results in fewer than half of 100 published psychology studies. Vedantam looked more closely at efforts to replicate one study on the effects of gender and ethnic stereotyping on performance by Asian women in math tests. In the study, volunteers who were...Read more

Online

Silver

“Science Isn’t Broken. It’s just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for.” - 19 Aug. 2015

“You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition. We found a link between cabbage and innie bellybuttons, but that doesn’t mean it’s real.” - 6 Jan. 2016

“Failure Is Moving Science Forward. The replication crisis is a sign that science is working." - 24 Mar. 2016

FiveThirtyEight

 

For the first piece of her award-winning entry, Christie Aschwanden, a reporter for FiveThirtyEight, spent months exploring the seeming rash of reported incidents of misconduct and fraud in scientific research and concluded that the headline-grabbing cases are “mere distractions.” She added: “If we’re going to rely on science as a means for reaching the truth ─ and it’s still the best tool we have ─it’s important that we understand and respect just how difficult it is to get a rigorous result.” She proceeded to highlight that difficulty with a revealing dive into the world...Read more

Children's Science News

Silver

“The shocking electric eel!” - 2 June 2016

Science News for Students

 

From its opening paragraphs about a zoologist’s unwise affection for a pet eel named “Sparky,” to its description of an eel’s use of electrical pulses to trick its prey into revealing their location, Roberta Kwok’s story on electric eels offered a fascinating glimpse into the behavior of these underwater predators capable of demolishing an entire school of fish. Philip Stoddard, the Florida International University zoologist who attempted to pet Sparky, was immediately zapped with about 500 volts of electricity, roughly four times the jolt he would have received from a...Read more