Award Winners

2014

Large Newspaper

"Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer" - 5 Jan. 2014

"A Tumor, the Embryo's Evil Twin" - 18 Mar. 2014

"An Apple a Day, and Other Myths" - 22 Apr. 2014

The New York Times

 

George Johnson, a contributor to The New York Times, won for three insightful essays on cancer and some of the misconceptions about the disease. Hillary Rosner, a freelance writer who was one of the judges, said Johnson's pieces "are gorgeously written and offer fascinating perspectives on a topic we like to think we know a lot about."

Johnson described how cancer is vying to become the final killer as heart disease and stroke are beaten back; how researchers are finding that the same genes that guide fetal cells as they multiply, migrate and create a...Read more

Small Newspaper

"Devastated: The World's Largest Organism is in Utah — and It's Dying" - 21 Nov. 2013

Salt Lake City Weekly

 

Matthew LaPlante and Paul Christiansen described efforts to understand what is killing the aspen groves of Utah, clones of genetically identical trees that exist as single interconnected organisms with unified root systems that can cover 100 acres or more. A clone dubbed "Pando," first identified in the 1970s as likely the world's largest organism, has an almost complete lack of juvenile and adolescent tree stems, a sign that the ancient organism (perhaps 80,000 years old by some estimates) may be dying. Despite an onslaught of boring insects, bark beetles, canker infections...Read more

Magazine

"The Social Life of Genes" - September/October 2013

Pacific Standard

 

David Dobbs explained how a growing body of research with diverse species, from bees and birds to monkeys and humans, suggests that social life can affect gene expression at a scale and breadth not previously suspected. Sawyer called the piece a "fascinating, entertaining trip through studies of gene expression and how scientists came to learn what they know about how genes interact with our social environment." Dobbs also explored some of the more speculative questions raised by the research, including just how quickly a person's gene expression may change in response to...Read more

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

"The Ecology of Fear" - 4 Mar. 2014

KCTS 9 / QUEST

 

Michael Werner explored the return of wolves to the Cascade Mountains in Washington state and the impact they could have on a vast wilderness area where prey species must learn to cope with their new neighbors. He reported on the work of biologist Aaron Wirsing, who uses a simple video camera (a "deer cam") to study predator/prey relationships and provide insights on how we think about wolves. The judges applauded Werner's piece as a good example of enterprising science journalism at the local level. "Discussions around wolves are too often fueled by passion rather than...Read more

Television: In-Depth Reporting

"Your Inner Fish" - 9 Apr., 16 Apr., 23 Apr. 2014

Tangled Bank Studios/Windfall Films for PBS

 

Michael Rosenfeld, David Dugan, and Neil Shubin won for a three-part PBS series on "Your Inner Fish." The winning series described how Shubin, a fish paleontologist, and his colleagues use fossil evidence and our DNA history to trace different features of our anatomy to animals from long ago. Natalie Angier, a science writer for The New York Times, praised the PBS series. "I particularly applaud the segments that reveal what fieldwork is really like," Angier said, "and the graphics really brought the fossils to life."

Shubin, the author of two books on...Read more

Radio

"Staying Healthy May Mean Learning To Love Our Microbiomes" - 22 July 2013

"From Birth, Our Microbes Become As Personal As A Fingerprint" - 9 Sept. 2013

"Getting Your Microbes Analyzed Raises Big Privacy Issues" - 4 Nov. 2013

NPR

 

As part of his continuing reporting on the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that we all harbor, Rob Stein told his listeners about the positive benefits we can derive from our microbiome, the distinctly personal nature of our microbial ecosystems, and the privacy issues that loom now that individuals can readily and inexpensively get their microbes analyzed. One of the pieces included an imaginary bus tour through the microscopic world of the body. Judge Marc Kaufman, a science writer for The Washington Post and other publications, called...Read more

Online

"Trials: A Desperate Fight to Save Kids and Change Science" - 14 Nov. 2013

The Wall Street Journal

 

In "Trials," a sweeping, multimedia project, reporter Amy Dockser Marcus followed a group of families and scientists trying to accelerate the development of a drug to treat Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a rare and fatal disorder of cholesterol metabolism that strikes primarily children. Those with the disease, which gradually steals mobility, speech, and the ability to swallow, seldom live beyond their teen years. The families and scientists, whom Dockser Marcus followed for six years, were part of a fledgling movement to change medical science in the United States and gain a...Read more

Children's Science News

"Biting Back" - 16 Sept. 2013

"Underwater Adventurer" - 7 Oct. 2013

"Swallowed Up" - 3 Feb. 2014

Scholastic Science World

 

In engaging stories about venomous animals, sinkholes, and a do-it-yourself submarine, Mara Grunbaum offered her young readers a look at how scientists and engineers seek to understand and interact with the natural world. She explained how erosion can carve out cavities in certain types of bedrock resulting eventually in a dramatic collapse called a sinkhole. But Grunbaum also sought to reassure her readers that the odds of being swallowed up in a sinkhole are very, very small. Her story on snakes and other venomous animals explained what makes snake venom harmful, how to...Read more