Council for the Advancement of Science Writing


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After almost seven decades at The San Francisco Chronicle, former CASW President David Perlman will finally close his reporter's notebook on August 4, retiring at the age of 98 after an accomplished career that made him a legend among science journalists. CASW colleagues took the occasion to recall some of their professional encounters over the years with the Dean of Science Journalism, who served as CASW's vice president 1973-76 and president 1976-80.

2017-18 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellows aim to 'elevate the public conversation about science'

Five writers with varied backgrounds in crime and business reporting, science and education have been awarded the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing's prestigious Taylor/Blakeslee University Fellowships supporting graduate study in science writing.

The Fellows will receive a $5,000 award for the 2017-18 academic year, bringing to 156 the number of science writers aided by CASW’s graduate fellowships since 1981.

Chosen from a field of 33 outstanding applicants were:

Fatima Husain (pictured above right). Husain, who is completing a bachelor's degree in geology and chemistry at Brown University, began pitching her writing to magazines as a high school student. In college she continued to pursue her interest in writing, serving as science editor for The College Hill Independent, a weekly Providence newspaper coordinated by undergraduates at Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design. Involvement in climate research sparked Husain's concern about sensational, agenda-driven writing and misinformation. She will attend the MIT graduate program in science writing and looks forward to getting lab experience in an unfamiliar field.

Heather Mongilio (@HMongiliocompleted her bachelor’s degree in journalism and psychology at American University in 2015 and went to work covering crime and courts for the Carroll County Times in Maryland. Having taken a course in health and environmental reporting, she found herself looking for ways to incorporate medicine and science into her reporting. Her dream job is as a science or medical reporter with a major daily. She will also enter the MIT graduate program in science writing and hopes to study neuroscience while at MIT.

Jeremy RehmJeremy Colin Rehm (@jrehm_sciearned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Brigham Young University and pursued graduate studies in ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, where he is completing a master's degree. His science studies have taken him into the western states and to Panama and Belize, and his involvement in science education has taken him into the communities around campuses and as far afield as Tanzania. Along the way, he has captured science in context through essays, profiles, blogging and multimedia productions and even a planetary science book written as a holiday gift for his family. Rehm will polish his skill at writing for the general public by attending the science communication graduate program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Elizabeth WhitmanElizabeth Whitman (@elizabethwhitty) has reported from the United Nations and written feature stories about Syrian refugees, public health, medicine, climate change and women’s rights from the Middle East. She currently reports on the health care industry. In March, her writing for Modern Healthcare was recognized with the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Range of Work by a Single Author. A 2011 history graduate of Columbia University, she is heading back to Columbia for a master’s degree in science journalism. In her fellowship application, Whitman wrote: “Now is a critical time for elevating the public conversation about science…. Journalists share the responsibility for fostering an informed discussion of what we know and how we know it, and for bringing the public into this conversation through ethical, accurate writing about scientific findings and developments.” 

Charlie WoodAfter completing a bachelor’s degree in physics at Brown, Charles Wood (@walkingthedot) headed for Korea, Mozambique and Japan as a teacher of English and physics. Landing afterward at the Christian Science Monitor as an intern, he found that writing about science combined his passion for explaining with his love of science. He will join the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) at New York University. “I hope to become a skilled science journalist who can acknowledge the context surrounding each new development," he explained in his application, "while conveying to the public a nuanced but engaging picture of what’s going on in the lab or out in the field.” 

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.


Diverse program of science and journalism sessions planned for WCSJ2017

May 1, 2017 — CASW and its partners in organizing the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists today unveiled a comprehensive program of conference sessions focusing on professional development, leading-edge research and issues in science and journalism for the five-day meeting to be held this October. Registration and access to the full preliminary program, which features renowned plenary speakers, is now open.

The 2017 edition of WCSJ, the biennial meeting of international science journalists, will be held October 26 to 30 in San Francisco, California, a global hub of science and technology innovation. This year marks the first time the conference will be held in the United States. The program and registration information can be accessed at “We are thrilled to invite science writers from around the world to participate in this exciting global meeting,” said WCSJ2017 Organizing Committee Co-Chairs Cristine Russell and Ron Winslow. “American science writers will have a unique opportunity to network with colleagues from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.” Russell is a board member and immediate past president of CASW. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.

WCSJ2017 program outline, additional speakers announced

Program themes, additional plenary sessions and fundraising progress were described by the organizers of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ2017) at a press conference during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Mass. Feb. 16.

CASW is organizing the WCSJ2017 science program—an international edition of New Horizons in Science—and co-managing sponsor recruitment for the conference, to be held October 26-30 in San Francisco, Calif. Travel fellowships to bring international journalists to the conference have been established in honor of David Perlman, veteran San Francisco Chronicle science editor and past CASW president. CASW is conducting a donation campaign to fund the fellowships.

Cristine Russell, immediate past president of CASW, co-chairs the Organizing Committee with Ron Winslow, a past president of the National Association of Science Writers.

Conference registration opens May 1. The full text of the announcement may be found at the WCSJ2017 website.


World Conference organizers issue travel statement

Amid debate over new U.S. visa restrictions, organizers of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists affirmed the conference's determination to welcome journalists from across the globe to the conference. A statement issued February 10 says the organizers "oppose any restrictions that would prevent participants from attending WCSJ2017."

CASW and the National Association of Science Writers are partners with the World Federation of Science Journalists in organizing the conference, scheduled to be held in San Francisco Oct. 26-30. The statement is signed by the co-chairs of the WCSJ2017 Organizing Committee: Cristine Russell, CASW immediate past president, and Ron Winslow, past president of NASW, and was endorsed by current presidents Alan Boyle (CASW) and Laura Helmuth (NASW).

As an additional expression of global welcome, CASW is raising $20,000 in donations to the David Perlman Travel Fellowships, which honor the former CASW and NASW president and longtime San Francisco Chronicle science editor. The fellowships will support travel by conference attendees from any nation. An anonymous donor is matching all donations up to the goal.

In the hope that all colleagues will be able to come to San Francisco, the organizers have also recruited conference partners to help with visa appeals.

The full text of the statement may be found here.

Jennifer Lu wins special CASW grant for investigative project

(January 27, 2017) Jennifer Lu, now studying toward a master's degree in journalism at the University of Missouri, has won a $5,000 special reporting grant from CASW’s Taylor-Blakeslee university graduate fellowships program.

In her final semester of the Mizzou master’s program, Lu is focusing on investigative and data journalism. Her professional goal is to apply these skills to stories about science, health and the environment. She will use the Taylor/Blakeslee Project Fellowship toward reporting on the urgent problems that come with the nation’s aging drinking water infrastructure for the online investigative news group InquireFirst.

The judges noted the urgency and importance of investigative science reporting on the drinking water contamination crises now facing many cities. They congratulated Lu on a reporting plan that will dig into these issues and examine the effectiveness of practice and regulation at the local, regional and national levels.

Lu is one of five graduate students currently supported by Taylor-Blakeslee University Fellowships. The Brinson Foundation, which underwrites the fellowships, provided the follow-up grant to enable a Fellow to undertake a career-launching enterprise project.

In a competition, Fellows approaching graduation were invited to propose high-impact enterprise projects that would leverage their graduate training and entrepreneurial talent. "The submitted projects were all excellent, and we hope these exceptional science journalists will find ways to complete them. The world needs this reporting," said CASW Executive Director Rosalind Reid.

Lu holds a master’s degree in biochemistry from Brandeis University and worked as a research technician in Boston-area medical labs before taking up science writing and newspaper reporting.

This is the second year of the project fellowship. The first grant went to Amy McDermott, then enrolled in the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Perlman fellowships will bring global science writers to San Francisco for 2017 World Conference

United States science writers have started a special individual donation campaign to bring their international colleagues to San Francisco in October 2017 for the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ2017).

The donations will fund WCSJ2017 travel fellowships named for San Francisco Chronicle Science Editor and former CASW President David Perlman, one of America’s most revered science journalists and surely the longest-serving member of the trade. A mentor to generations of science writers, Perlman has been a globetrotting newspaper reporter for nearly 75 years. Considered the dean of American science writing, he has covered the space race, arms control, the origin and rise of AIDS, earthquakes, genetic engineering, medical progress, human evolution—the works—and is still on the job as he nears age 98. Perlman, who served as a CASW officer in the 1970s, was named a CASW Fellow on his retirement from the Council in 2011.

An announcement of the fellowships may be found on the WCSJ2017 website. Instructions for contributing are also available there. Donations may also be made by following instructions on the support page of this website. CASW, a partner in the conference, will accept and manage donations to the fellowships.

Stories about David Perlman's career:

WCSJ2017 will be organized by NASW and CASW and hosted by the University of California campuses at Berkeley and at San Francisco. NASW is the oldest and largest professional science writing organization in the U.S., with more than 2,500 members. CASW is managing donations and sponsorships for the conference and will accept the contributions. CASW is an educational nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the quantity and quality of science news reaching the public. Opportunities for foundations, other non-profits, businesses, and individuals to support the conference can be found on the website.



Scientists meet science writers at New Horizons 2016

CASW's New Horizons Traveling Fellows have now posted coverage of the 2016 program—including a tongue-in-cheek interactive game simulating the experience of a freelancer getting a travel grant to attend a science writers' conference.

Amy Mayer and Nancy Averett chose to focus on the powerful pair of sessions that focused on citizens and science. Jacob Roberts was taken with Mark Riedl's presentation on creativity and artificial intelligence—and inspired to recap his ScienceWriters2016 experience in the form of game.

The Fellows' contributions can be found in the 2016 New Horizons Newsroom.

Sketch by Rob Frederick, @TheConjectural

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Jacob Roberts was inspired by Mark Riedl's talk on creativity and artificial intelligence at the 2016 edition of the New Horizons in Science briefing to create a lighthearted simulation of a freelancer's experience of a science writers' conference. Just for fun, we share Jacob's Science Writing Conference Simulator.

Sketch by Rob Frederick, @TheConjectural

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by Jacob Roberts | 


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