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Joshua Sokol wins Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award

The winner of the 2018 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, an annual prize for young science journalists, is freelance writer Joshua Sokol.

Sokol received the award and its $1,000 prize for four stories:

The panel of judges cited Sokol for his compelling storytelling; his deep reporting from such far-flung locations as Japan, Mexico, and Namibia; his impressive diversity of topics; and his ability to clearly convey how science is done.

Sokol was selected as the winner from a record-high number of submissions—56 in total.

Growing up in Raleigh, NC, Joshua had an early exposure to science. “My mom always took me fossil hunting and out to see meteor showers,” he recalls. “By the time I was in school, I was already sold on doing something in science—it just took me a while to figure out what that might be.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and in English literature from Swarthmore College, then worked as a data analyst for the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, before moving on to get a master’s degree in science writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a CASW Taylor/Blakeslee Fellow.

The award was presented by the Evert Clark Fund and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) as part of ScienceWriters2018 Awards Night on Saturday, October 13 at the Washington Marriott Georgetown during ScienceWriters2018, held October 12-16 in Washington, DC. (At left, Sokol poses after the presentation with CASW President Alan Boyle.)

Judges for the 2018 award were:

  • Warren Leary, retired science correspondent for the New York Times, former science writer for the Associated Press, and CASW board member emeritus.
  • Laura Helmuth, health, science, and environment editor at the Washington Post
  • Liz Marshall, Editorial & Project Manager at the Society for Public Health Education, and a former editor at The Scientist
  • Richard Harris, science correspondent at National Public Radio, CASW board member, and author of Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions
  • Gene Russo, Editor of the Front Matter section of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

The Clark/Payne Award was created to encourage young science writers by recognizing outstanding reporting in all fields of science. It is given each year in honor of journalist Ev Clark, who offered friendship and advice to a generation of young reporters. The annual judging is organized by John Carey, former long-time senior correspondent for Business Week and colleague of Seth Payne, who raised money for the award in memory of Ev Clark. CASW now administers the fund and manages the submission process and presentation of the award. This was the 30th year of the award.

Entrants must be age 30 or younger. The deadline for submissions is the end of June each year. For more information, please see the Evert Clark page at

Author, author, CASW board member!

Readers are demanding more intelligent nonfiction books, according to the trade publication The Bookseller. Alex Preston writes in The Guardian, “These uncertain times have seen a renewed interest in serious nonfiction, as people try to make sense of an unstable world.”

Four CASW board members are at the forefront of this shift in the nonfiction book market with newly published titles about science. We asked Christie Aschwanden, Deborah Blum, Thomas Lin and Betsy Mason what drives their readers’ interest in science and why books by science writers appeal to publishers. All four, who have published books within the last year, responded enthusiastically to our questions.

Christie Aschwanden

Author of Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery, W. W. Norton & Company 2019. A New York Times Sports and Fitness Bestseller.

  • Good to Go is targeted at people who exercise, but it’s not necessarily angled for people who are serious or elite. I wanted to write a book about metascience that the masses would read, so framing these issues around sports studies seemed like a good way to do that.
  • I’m finding that people really are interested in learning more about how to distinguish strong studies from weak ones, and they want to learn how to assess scientific evidence. 
  • [Publishers] know that they can trust science writers to understand scientific concepts and make them interesting to an audience. Science writers have the skills needed to assess studies and find the best references. 
  • Writing a book is really hard, but it’s also been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my career. When you finish, you have a tangible object that is yours. It’s a great feeling.

Deborah Blum

Author of The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Penguin Press 2018. A New York Times Notable Book of 2018.

  • I'm always interested in the audience that doesn't necessarily follow science, people who have become convinced that it's not important in their everyday life. That's my focus––the science of the everyday and why it matters to all of us. This book is about food safety, about a crusading scientist, about the decisions we make about food policy.
  • I get so many letters from people talking about the importance of science in food safety, and when I go out on a book talk about this book, that's what people want to know. What does science tell us about food safety, and do we follow what research tells us?
  • I think [publishers] get that readers care about these ideas and that a good science writer knows how to take a story like this - with all its complex science and ethical dilemmas - and turn it into a compelling read.
  • I like to build a story around a person or persons whose career is entwined with the science that interests me - but there are also books that explore issues with insight. Another writer once said to me that the most successful science books are either narratives or argument, and I think that's largely true.

Thomas Lin

Editor of The Prime Number Conspiracy: The Biggest Ideas in Math from Quanta and Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire: The Biggest Ideas in Science from Quanta, both published by The MIT Press in 2018.

  • Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire tells the stories of the best efforts by physicists and biologists over the past five years or so to answer the most basic questions we have about our universe. The Prime Number Conspiracy takes a similar approach but focuses on the mysteries of the mathematical universe. Both books are intended for anyone who's intellectually curious about our natural and logical worlds.
  • As the editor of Quanta magazine, I've seen ample evidence that our science articles appeal to readers from a wide range of backgrounds. We have readers who are high school, college or graduate students, retirees, artists and filmmakers, scientists and engineers, coders and technologists, business people and bankers, and of course writers and journalists. The common thread is that we're all curious and want to know more.
  • Science writers are in a good position to bridge that gap [between lay readers and the scientific literature], to deliver scientific ideas to the public in an accessible and compelling way.
  • All of these new books by CASW board members are excellent: you can't go wrong with any of them.

Betsy Mason

Author, with Greg Miller, of All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey, National Geographic 2018.

  • I often say that people who don't love maps just haven't met the right map, and this book has a map, and a story, for everyone. Our stories use maps as a starting point for stories about people, history, money, politics, and of course, science.
  • Maps are a wonderful framework for stories about science. I've found that when I talk about the maps in the book to a lay audience, they always have the most interest in and ask questions about the maps and stories that touch on science.
  • I think publishers like to work with people who are either experts on a topic or are good storytellers. With journalists, they get both in one. I imagine this combination is particularly attractive with topics like science that have a reputation for being dry and difficult to understand.

These works, of course, are hardly the first by CASW board members and won’t be the last. CASW Treasurer Richard Harris's Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions, was published by Basic Books in 2017. And as he retired from the Council in 2018, Tom Siegfried was polishing his fourth science book, due out this September from Harvard University Press. The Number of the Heavens will tell the story of one of the liveliest controversies in cosmology today, the notion that multiple parallel universes exist.

2019-20 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellows combine passions for science, narrative and a better world

Six talented journalists with experience in research, writing and policy have been awarded prestigious Taylor/Blakeslee University Fellowships for 2019-20 from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing to support graduate training in science writing.

Four Fellows will each receive a $5,000 academic year award. Two more will receive one-semester awards of $2,500, bringing to 167 the number of science writers aided by CASW’s graduate fellowships since 1981.

Chosen for full fellowships from the field of 27 outstanding applicants were:

Alex Matthews

Alexandra Matthews. After completing an undergraduate degree in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and serving with the Peace Corps in Morocco, Matthews began reporting on politics for California's Capitol Weekly. Drawn to stories about science and health, she took on communications work for the Public Library of Science and data collection for a health study. She decided to return to Berkeley for a special dual degree program that combines public health and journalism, she said, because "I want my reporting to transcend the artificial boundaries between 'hard' and 'social' sciences."

Jerimiah OettingJerimiah Oetting is entering the master's program in science communication at the University of California, Santa Cruz, after six years of working for the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service on a range of conservation-based research projects. He focused on ecology in his undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota while pursuing his interest in reporting and writing at student newspapers. As a science journalist, Oetting hopes "to move the public discussion away from its current overriding binary of pro-science/anti-science" and to "positively contribute toward a science-literate and informed world."

Brett SimpsonBrett Simpson. When her father succumbed to a preventable infection in 2018, Simpson found herself powerfully motivated to pursue health and environmental journalism. Effective science journalism, she says, provides the explanations that help us understand our world and feel more responsibility for it. She will enter the narrative journalism master's program at UC Berkeley and report local science news as part of a small instructor-led cohort focusing on the intersections of public health and the environment. Simpson holds a bachelor's degree in English from Princeton. She has written for several California publications and produced multimedia and is a two-time winner of the Ferris Prize for Exceptional Journalism.

As Jonathan Wosen was completing the research for his PhD in immunology at Stanford, he was struck by a realization that he didn't want to spend the rest of his life at the bench. A two-week mini-course on science communication strengthened an inner voice urging him to consider science journalism as a career. During a AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellowship at the Boston-based biomedical news site STAT, he realized that science and journalism shared the search for truth as a core value. Wosen will join the master's program in science communication at UC Santa Cruz after collecting his doctorate this June. "I always figured I'd have to choose science or journalism," he says. "I'm glad I was dead wrong."

Receiving half-fellowships for the final semester of their master's programs are:

Marcus Banks. Trained in library and information science, Banks reported on technology, libraries and publishing issues between stints as a library manager and director. In 2018, he entered New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) and faced the reality that much science coverage is shallow and lacking in critical reflection or distance. "I want to be a science writer who tells the story of science clearly and fully," he says, adding that science journalism "should always be grounded in real people." Banks is a graduate of Northwestern and earned his library science master's degree at Dominican University.

Dani Leviss. As an undergraduate chemistry major at Drew University, Leviss was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and discovered a love of editing. Also enrolled in NYU SHERP, she is taking an audio storytelling workshop and hopes to build a career that combines science editing and podcasting. Her passions are to be a science and policymaking watchdog, to tell the stories of minority scientists, and to provide the public with "well-reported, engaging stories about the science in their lives."

CASW's graduate fellowships are underwritten by a grant from The Brinson Foundation, a Chicago-based philanthropic organization. They honor the late Rennie Taylor and Alton Blakeslee, science writer and science editor respectively for the Associated Press. More information may be found on this page.

Paired Fellows selected for first mentored science journalism project grants

Two recent Taylor/Blakeslee Graduate Fellows have been awarded CASW’s first Taylor/Blakeslee Mentored Science Journalism Project Fellowships, small grants for independent reporting projects that come with the support of a senior journalist—a previous Fellow—as mentor.

The grants are designed to help early-career science journalists gain important experience by organizing and executing freelance projects at a time when publishers are rarely able to cover the full cost of field reporting. The mentoring component is intended to help ensure the success of the project and also to build a cross-generational scaffold of mentoring within the community of Taylor/Blakeslee Fellows.

The project grants are funded by the Chicago-based Brinson Foundation, which provides underwriting for the Taylor/Blakeslee Graduate Fellowships.

The 2019 Taylor/Blakeslee Mentored Project Fellows and their mentors are:

Susie Neilson, Project Fellow, and Phil McKenna, mentor (upper left and right photos)

Neilson, who will earn her master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in May, plans an environmental investigative project called “A Toxic Bargain.” The grant will cover a reporting trip to talk with experts and community members to develop online and magazine articles. Neilson’s mentor will be environment and energy reporter Phil McKenna, a 2005 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellow, now part of an investigative team at InsideClimate News in Boston.

Joshua Sokol, Project Fellow, and Bryn Nelson, mentor (lower left and right photos)

Sokol, who was a 2014 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellow at MIT, plans a trip to scientific fieldwork sites in tropical Africa for “Birth of a Parasite,” a project exploring the evolution of a major infectious disease vector. His mentor will be Seattle-based freelance biology writer Bryn Nelson, a 1998 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellow.

The project grants are funded by the Chicago-based Brinson Foundation, which provides underwriting for the Taylor/Blakeslee Graduate Fellowships.

ComSciCon workshop at ScienceWriters2019

CASW is excited to partner with the students behind ComSciCon—a workshop focused on communicating science organized by graduate students for graduate students—to bring a ComSciCon workshop to ScienceWriters2019.

ComSciCon-SciWri19 is the second time ComSciCon and CASW will join forces to give students an opportunity to build their experience through writing and interactions with professional science writers. CASW board members and other senior science writers will serve as presenters, mentors and editors at the preconference workshop. ComSciCon students will write about science presented at CASW's New Horizons in Science briefings and publish their stories on a student newsroom web page.

Applications from interested graduate students may be submitted to ComSciCon until May 1, 2019. The workshop, which is funded by HHMI through CASW, will be on October 24 ahead of ScienceWriters2019 October 25-29 in State College, Pa.

CASW accepting session proposals, award and fellowship applications

CASW is now accepting ScienceWriters2019 session proposals and will welcome applications for our fellowships and awards beginning January 1, 2019.

Entries and applications will be accepted online at There, you can:

For more information, click through to the information pages on this site and read the guidelines displayed on each submission form. Thank you for your interest in CASW's programs!

Shirley Tilghman presents the sixth Patrusky Lecture

Shirley M. Tilghman, a mammalian developmental geneticist who served as the 19th president of Princeton University, presented the sixth Patrusky Lecture on Sunday, October 14, 2018, during CASW's New Horizons in Science program at ScienceWriters2018 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Tilghman chose "Righting the Ship: Systemic Flaws in the Biomedical Research Enterprise" as the theme of her address to science writers. Her talk celebrated the promise of remarkable new methods in biomedical science while pointing to structural problems that may prevent society from reaping their benefits. She gave her view of the roots of this dilemma and offered some solutions. A video recording of her talk is available on the Patrusky Lectures page.

Along with leading scientists Bruce Alberts, Judith Kimble and Harold Varmus, Tilghman is currently engaged in a project called "Rescuing Biomedical Research," which advocates reforming the U.S. research system in order to encourage creative and innovative research and boost basic science.

Shirley TilghmanIn a 2014 essay and 2015 opinion piece in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., Alberts, Tilghman, Varmus and Marc Kirschner of Harvard University decried logistical, administrative and conceptual logjams resulting from the hypercompetitive environment of U.S. biomedical science, the burden of grant writing and administration, the distorting effects of the publishing and government funding systems, and the nearly two decades of training now required to become an independent investigator.

About Shirley M. Tilghman

It was not Tilghman's first appearance on CASW's New Horizons in Science stage. During her earlier research career, she studied the way in which genes are organized in the genome and regulated during early development and was a member of the team that cloned the first mammalian gene. She was one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research. 

A member of the Princeton faculty since 1986, she was named president of the university in 2001. She returned to teaching in 2013.

As the sixth Patrusky Lecturer, Tilghman was presented a certificate and crystal sculpture, one of many honors bestowed upon her. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Developmental Biology, the Genetics Society of America Medal, and the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and The Royal Society of London. She serves as a trustee of Amherst College, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Simons Foundation, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. She also serves on the Science Advisory Board of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is a director of The Broad Institute and is a Fellow of the Corporation of Harvard College.

About the Patrusky Lectures and Ben Patrusky

Patrusky Lecture prism and certificateTilghman joins a list of distinguished scientists invited to give an authoritative and expansive address at the annual ScienceWriters meeting, which combines the workshop program of the National Association of Science Writers with CASW's New Horizons in Science briefings. Previous lectures, all available on video here, were given by George M. Whitesides of Harvard University (2013), Donald Johanson of Arizona State University and the Institute of Human Origins (2014), Jo Handelsman of Yale University and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (2015), Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin (2016), and Susan Desmond-Hellmann of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2017). 

Ben Patrusky embarked on his science-writing career in the early 1960s after earning a degree in electrical engineering from City College of New York and winning a science-writing fellowship at Columbia. After a dozen years as the research writer and science editor for the American Heart Association, in 1975 he embarked on a freelance science-writing career and took charge of the New Horizons in Science briefing program for CASW, becoming executive director in 1988. He has also orchestrated science journalism seminars for, among others, the National Academy of Sciences, Research to Prevent Blindness, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.

Widely published and the author of two books, he is the recipient of the Science Journalism Award from the American Institute of Physics and the American Chemical Society’s Grady-Stack Award. He is an honorary member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, and for 18 years, until 2008, served as a member of the board of trustees of Science Service (now the Society for Science and the Public), publisher of Science News. Ben is a long-time member of the board of governors of one of the nation’s oldest press clubs, The Society of the Silurians.

Freelance journalist Laura Beil awarded 2018 Victor Cohn Prize for Medical Science Reporting

Freelance medical writer Laura Beil, a career journalist whose work combines gripping narrative and dogged reporting to illuminate issues of personal concern to a wide range of readers, is the recipient of the 2018 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. The prize is awarded annually by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW).

Judges cited Beil for the often-breathtaking, “grab-you-by-the-throat” quality of her writing, the “extraordinary diversity of both the subject matter she strives to illuminate and the audiences she reaches,” and the “remarkable utility of her reporting.” Her stories, they noted, stood out among a number of strong nominations for the deep and detailed richness of their reporting, and the enterprise and personal commitment evident in each one.

Beil, who lives in Cedar Hill, Texas, is only the second freelance writer to be awarded the Cohn Prize since its inception in 2000. She is the 21st recipient of the prize, given for a body of work published or broadcast within the past five years.

Letters from colleagues in support of her nomination noted Beil’s ability to discover and relentlessly pursue important untold stories, and to convince editors of diverse publications to publish them. “Her forte is finding issues that everyday people care about, angles that others may miss, and questioning authority and dogma,” wrote AP medical writer and Cohn Prize laureate Marilynn Marchione. Marchione also pointed out Beil’s emphasis on personal stories. “While some writers use patients as anecdotes, almost like window dressing or a mandatory ingredient,” she wrote, “Laura makes them the stars of her stories. She explains medicine through the people experiencing it. Her style of personal storytelling is so powerful that it propels people to read to the end, science and all.”

Tom Siegfried, who as science editor of The Dallas Morning News and later as editor in chief of Science News worked with Beil, wrote that Beil “finds stories that no one else finds, and routinely spots trends and upcoming issues before other writers.” He added that her work has provided great benefit to her readers. In one case documented on a television broadcast, Siegfried recalled, a mother of a dying child read Beil’s story about a deadly form of E. coli and “recognized that doctors had missed the diagnosis, leading to proper treatment and the child’s survival.”

In selecting Beil, the judges drew particular attention to a story she wrote for Men’s Health on mental health issues in the military. To tell the powerful and tragic story of Eddie Routh, a troubled veteran who killed Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and another man after failing to get vital help from an overwhelmed Veterans Administration, she wrote repeatedly to Routh’s family and overcame a judge’s gag order on the family. Published in late 2013 while the case was fresh, “Who Killed Chris Kyle?” was later expanded into an e-book.

Other stories published in Science News, Reader’s Digest and Texas Monthly tackled questions about widely used surgery and drugs, vaccination hesitancy, and obesity among high school football players. The judges noted that Beil has also published medical reporting in The New York Times and Cosmopolitan. About the latter, Beil said, “few things make me happier than knowing that someone has been introduced to the complexities of medical science while getting their hair done.”

These recent examples cap a long reporting career that began at the Dallas paper. It was during her 15 years as a medical writer there, Beil told the judges, that she had “first read the copy of [Victor Cohn’s book] News & Numbers I keep to this day.”

Beil (shown at left with CASW President Alan Boyle at the presentation) received a $3,000 award and certificate and was honored in Washington, D.C., on October 13, as science writers gathered for ScienceWriters2018, a conference jointly organized by CASW and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). CASW, a not-for-profit organization of journalists and scientists committed to improving the quality of science news and information reaching the public, produces the annual New Horizons in Science program at each annual conference.


Laura Beil (@ljbeil) began her career at The Dallas Morning News, where she was the medical reporter from 1992 to 2006. Since leaving the world of daily journalism, she has written mostly for magazines. While specializing in health and science, she has also written about gun-toting liberals for D Magazine and was the writer-reporter of the “Thugs” episode for the NPR series This American Life. She has been a contributor to Men’s Health and is a correspondent for Science News. Most recently, she released a six-part podcast about a neurosurgeon in Dallas who left most of his patients in pain, paralyzed or dead. (At the time of this announcement, "Dr. Death" was #1 on the podcast charts and had received almost 7,000 five-star reviews.) The Victor Cohn Prize is the latest of several recent recognitions. Beil was the recipient of the 2012 June Roth Award for Medical Journalism and won the American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA) award for Reporting on a Significant Topic in both 2013 and 2014. In 2015 her story “What’s Wrong with Robotic Surgery?” for Men’s Health was chosen Best Consumer Feature by the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). She was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2016. She is a member of NASW, AHCJ and ASJA.


This year’s Cohn Prize entries were judged by Christie Aschwanden, lead writer for science at FiveThirtyEight and a member of the CASW Board; Ben Patrusky, CASW’s executive director emeritus; Joann Rodgers, former national science correspondent and columnist for the Heart Newspapers, longtime executive director of media relations and public affairs for Johns Hopkins Medicine, and former CASW president; and Cristine Russell, freelance journalist, senior fellow and lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School and immediate past president of CASW.

The inaugural Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting in 2000 was shared by Laurie Garrett of Newsday and Lawrence K. Altman of The New York Times. Subsequent recipients were Jon Palfreman, a public television documentarian; Daniel Q. Haney, medical editor, The Associated Press; Shannon Brownlee, a noted magazine writer and book author; Michelle Trudeau of National Public Radio; Rick Weiss of the Washington Post; Jerome Groopman of The New Yorker; Geeta Anand of The Wall Street Journal; Joe Palca of NPR; Denise Grady of The New York Times; Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press; Ron Winslow of The Wall Street Journal; Jon Cohen of Science magazine; John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; freelance health reporter and former NPR correspondent Joanne Silberner; Elisabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times; Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Liz Szabo, health writer for USA Today and senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News; and Sharon Begley, senior science writer at STAT.

The award honors the late Washington Post medical writer and health columnist Victor Cohn, known as the dean of medical science reporting. He distinguished himself by the clarity and effectiveness of his reporting during a 50-year career that began with outstanding coverage of early “wonder” drugs and the polio vaccine, as well as the dawn of the modern space age. Late in his career, Cohn started a Post column called “The Patient’s Advocate,” and authored News & Numbers: A Guide to Reporting Statistical Claims and Controversies in Health and Other Fields. Cohn, who died of cancer in 2000, was a co-founder in 1959 of CASW.

To read Laura Beil’s work, visit her website.

To learn more about CASW (Twitter: @sciencewriting), the Cohn Prize and past recipients, visit this page.

To learn more about ScienceWriters2018 (#sciwri18), visit


12 Latin American Fellows receive grants to attend ScienceWriters2018

Twelve science writers from eight Latin American countries have been selected to receive the first Regional Travel Fellowships to attend ScienceWriters2018, the annual conference of U.S. science writers, scheduled for October 12-16 in Washington, DC.

Mónica Baró Sanchez Nora Bär
Pablo Correa Eduardo Franco Berton
Henrique Kugler Rodrigo Pérez Ortega
Helen Mendes Lima Jessica Maes
Sebastián Rodríguez Laura Vargas-Parada
Michelle Soto Mendez Alexa Vélez Zuazo

Selected from 38 highly competitive applications for the 2018 travel fellowships were:

Nora Bär (@norabarArgentina) Nora is the science and health editor of the major daily La Nación and producer of the radio program “El Arcón” on science, health, and technology.

Mónica Baró Sanchez (Cuba) As a reporter and editorial board member of Periodismo de Barrio, Mónica covers stories about the environment, gender violence and public health.

Pablo Correa (@pcorrea78, Colombia) Pablo is a science, health and environment reporter and editor for the newspaper El Espectador. He also created Infoamazonía Colombia, a data journalism initiative to disseminate information about the Colombian Amazon rainforest.

Eduardo Franco Berton (@edufrancobertonBolivia) Eduardo writes for Mongabay Latam and the Earth Journalism Network and is the founder of the Environmental Information Network, a digital news and information service about the environment, science and conservation.

Henrique Kugler (Brazil) A freelance journalist, Henrique has written for Physics World, and Folha de São Paulo, Brazil’s largest daily newspaper. He has a special interest in sustainable agriculture and is currently a Fellow with the Paraná Reference Centre for Agroecology.

Jessica Maes (Brazil) A former writer and editor for the Federal University of Paraná, Maes writes for and contributes magazine pieces to Gazeta do Povo, Brazil’s fourth largest newspaper.

Helen Mendes Lima (@iamhelenmendesBrazil) Helen is editor of the Ideas section of Gazeta do Povo and presents the newspaper’s weekly podcast.

Rodrigo Pérez Ortega (@rpocisv, Mexico) Currently a student in the Science Communication Program at UC Santa Cruz, Rodrigo is a freelancer who has worked for Nature and Medscape en Español and has been an Early Career Fellow with The Open Notebook.

Sebastián Rodríguez (@sebas211297Costa Rica) Sebastián is a staff journalist at the national newspaper Semanario Universidad, reporting for the Ojo al Clima section. He also does freelance reporting on climate, biodiversity and sustainability issues for and other outlets.

Michelle Soto Mendez (@michellesoto80, Costa Rica) Michelle is a freelance writer with varied experience, including staff positions with the national publications Perfil and La Nación. She currently writes chiefly on environment and geology.

Laura Vargas-Parada (@lavapa, Mexico) Laura is the founding director of the Science Communication Office of the Center for Complexity Sciences at UNAM, Mexico’s national university. She also teaches science journalism at UNAM and contributes to the newspaper El Economista and Medscape en Español.

Alexa Vélez Zuazo (@alexavz, Peru) An investigative journalist with 15 years’ experience, Alexa is Senior Editor for Mongabay Latam. She has worked in television and founded a production company.

The recipients will participate in the professional development workshops presented by the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) and attend CASW’s New Horizons in Science briefings. In response to a call for session proposals, Eduardo Franco Berton and a Peru-based colleague have organized a special session on rapid hydroelectric development in Amazonia and the challenges and opportunities for writers interested in covering the continuing environmental crisis in the region. Fellows will also attend a bilingual preconference workshop in successful story-pitching for freelance writers.

These special fellowships were made possible by donations from U.S. science writers and additional sponsors who contributed to the travel fund for the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists, organized by NASW, CASW and World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) and held in San Francisco, CA in October 2017.

The WCSJ2017 organizers awarded 72 professional and 22 student travel fellowships to support international attendance. Cost savings allowed some of the donated funds to be rolled over to support travel to the 2018 conference to continue the regional network-building that began at the World Conference.

Judges for the 2018 Regional Travel Fellowships were Iván Carrillo, a Mexican science journalist who anchors the national television program Los Observadores-TV Azteca; Robin Lloyd, a New York freelance journalist who is vice president of CASW and chaired the WCSJ2017 Fellowships Committee; Debbie Ponchner, a Costa Rican freelance journalist and consultant, CASW board member and former editor of Scientific American en Español; Angela Posada-Swafford, a Miami-based freelance science writer, documentary producer and author; Valeria Román, an Argentinian science journalist and former board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists; and Emily Willingham, a California scientist, journalist and blogger and member of the NASW board.

Selected as alternates to receive fellowships if any of the selected fellows are unable to attend were Lucy Calderon Pineda, a Guatemalan freelance journalist covering environment and health; Débora Gutierrez of Universidad Diego Portales in Chile; Argentinian freelance journalist Federico Kukso; Carlos Andrés Urrego Zuluaga, a Colombian newspaper and magazine editor and instructor; and Sergio Villagrán, a Chilean biologist and freelance writer working for the biology communication agency Divulgociencia.

Rosalind Reid, executive director of CASW, thanked the judges for their work and extended special thanks to the individuals who donated to the David Perlman Travel Fellowships fund for WCSJ2017 and to Mexico’s Fundación Ealy Ortiz.

“One of the goals of WCSJ2017 was to enable full participation by our Latin American and Caribbean colleagues, who made significant contributions to the conference,” said Reid. “We’re thrilled that U.S. science writers who were not able to attend last year’s conference will be able to meet and learn from these accomplished journalists and communicators at ScienceWriters2018.”



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