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Video of 2016 Patrusky Lecture available

 

 

Theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg shared his thoughts about the state of quantum mechanics with science writers attending CASW's 54th New Horizons in Science briefing in San Antonio, Texas on October 30, 2016.

The fourth Patrusky Lecture was a highlight of ScienceWriters2016, the annual conference that combines New Horizons with the professional development workshops organized by the National Association of Science Writers. Some 800 science writers, a record number, attended this year's conference.

A full video recording of Weinberg's talk and the previous Patrusky Lectures is now available on the Patrusky Lectures page.

 

 

Liz Szabo wins 2016 Victor Cohn Prize for medical science journalism for work at USA Today

Liz Szabo, whose work as USA Today’s medical reporter combined authoritative breaking-news coverage with dogged investigative journalism, is the recipient of the 2016 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.

Judges cited Szabo, who recently joined Kaiser Health News as a senior correspondent, for outstanding reporting that “embodies the best of medical journalism and the Cohn award: scientific accuracy, fairness, humanity, and most of all, a deep understanding of the complexities of modern medicine.” She is the 19th recipient of the prize, awarded by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) for a body of work published or broadcast within the past five years.

Szabo’s work on the USA Today breaking news team, the judges said, demonstrates that a skilled and determined reporter can explain complex science accurately on deadline, put medical developments in context and provide sustained, incisive coverage of policy issues affecting everyone. They praised her for reporting characterized by “exceptional robustness and commitment.”  

Szabo (shown at left making remarks after the prize presentation and below receiving the prize from CASW President Alan Boyle) was selected from a field of talented nominees whose work epitomized fine medical reporting and writing. The judges found that the work of several of the nominees met the Cohn Prize’s requirement of “uncommon clarity, accuracy, breadth of coverage, enterprise, originality, insight and narrative power.” Szabo stood out in part, they say, because of her tenacious and high-impact reporting from the front lines of medicine and her determination to provide readers an accurate and complete picture.

Among the articles cited by the judges was “Zika could hit people in poverty hardest,” part of Szabo’s extensive reporting on emerging disease threats, which laid out the powerful connections among poverty, environment and health that make it impossible for many poor families to protect themselves against disease.

Her nomination also included some of the articles, illustrations, videos and podcasts Szabo developed for a series, “The Cost of Not Caring,” that exposed the financial and human price that our country pays for neglecting the 10 million American with serious mental illness. This work has been credited with building a foundation for mental health reform legislation now before Congress. In a letter supporting the nomination, Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press said “The Cost of Not Caring,” along with Szabo’s other work, shows “the impact a writer can have with a high volume of excellent, day-to-day beat reporting, using all sites and platforms available to reach the widest possible audience.”

Doctor accused of selling false hope to families” was one of several articles resulting from Szabo’s months-long investigation of Houston doctor Stanislaw Burzynski, which pulled back the curtain on the inner workings of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and showed how the agency failed to act on longstanding complaints that the physician, who continues to be the subject of controversy, abused patients’ trust by peddling expensive and unproven therapies.

In her nominating letter, Donna Leinwand Leger, USA Today managing editor (breaking news), noted that Szabo “never shies away from the toughest issues.” Leinwand Leger added that Szabo has developed “a vast array of loyal sources whom she can call on, day or night, because they trust her and respect her.”

“In the past few years, Liz has tackled all of the world’s major health stories, from Ebola to Zika, with aplomb,” Leinwand Leger wrote. “She not only covers breaking news, but consistently develops enterprise stories that push our readers to understand the issues behind the outbreaks.”

Szabo received a $3,000 award and certificate at a ceremony in San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 29, during ScienceWriters2016, a series of presentations, meetings, and workshops jointly organized by CASW and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). CASW is a not-for-profit organization of journalists and scientists committed to improving the quality of science news and information reaching the public.

LIZ SZABO

Liz Szabo (@LizSzabo) is now an enterprise reporter focusing on acute care and end-of-life issues for Kaiser Health News. She spent 12 years as a health writer at USA Today. “The Cost of Not Caring” has also been honored with a National Headliner Award, an Association of Health Care Journalists award for health policy reporting, and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism from Hunter College. Before joining USA Today, her investigation of dangerous doctors for The (Norfolk, Va.) Virginian-Pilot won two National Press Club awards and led Virginia lawmakers to tighten state laws for disciplining physicians. She has more than 50,000 Twitter followers

This year’s Cohn Prize entries were judged by Ben Patrusky, CASW’s executive director emeritus; Joann Rodgers, a freelance writer and author, a CASW past president and current board member, and instructor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Cristine Russell, CASW’s immediate past president and a current board member, freelance writer, and senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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; 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; and Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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 wrote a highly regarded professional book, 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 Liz Szabo’s work, visit the USA Today website.

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

To learn more about ScienceWriters2016 (#sciwri16), visit http://www.sciencewriters2016.org.


Photographs by Greg Harrison

Natalie Wolchover wins Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award

The winner of the 2016 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, an annual prize for young science journalists, is Natalie Wolchover, senior writer at Quanta Magazine

Wolchover received the award and its $1,000 prize for four stories in Quanta:

The panel of judges cited Wolchover for her great range, for her “masterful” ledes, for her impressive ability to make tough stories enticing (and to explain complex ideas like Bayesian statistics), and for making the people in her stories come alive. “She can really write about physics,” said one judge.

Wolchover earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Tufts University and studied graduate-level physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Before coming to Quanta, she co-authored several academic papers in nonlinear optics, and wrote for LiveScience, Popular Science, Seed, Make magazine and other publications. Another of her articles was recently honored with the 2016 Excellence in Statistical Reporting Award, presented by the American Statistical Association, and yet another was chosen for inclusion in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2015.

INTERVIEW

Read Shannon Hall's Q&A with Natalie Wolchover at CASW Showcase

The award was presented by the Evert Clark Fund and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW). The ceremony took place on Saturday, October 29, at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, TX, during ScienceWriters2016. The ScienceWriters conference combines the annual meeting and workshop program of the National Association of Science Writers and the New Horizons in Science briefings presented by CASW and will be held in San Antonio from October 28 to November 1.

Judges for the 2016 award were Warren Leary, retired science correspondent for the New York Times, former science writer for the Associated Press, and former CASW board member; Laura Helmuth, health, science, and environment editor at the Washington Post; Eugene Russo, editor of the Front Matter section of PNAS; Elizabeth Pennisi, senior correspondent at Science; and Liz Marshall, project coordinator in the Family Involvement Laboratory at the University of Maryland and former writer for The Scientist. They selected Wolchover from a highly competitive field of 37 entries.

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 manages the submission process and presentation of the award in cooperation with the National Press Foundation, which administers the fund. This is the 28th 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.

WCSJ2017 news: headliners, call for proposals

MANCHESTER, UK (JULY 25, 2016) — African science-development activist Thierry Zomahoun and pioneering U.S. biologist Jennifer Doudna will be among the keynote speakers at the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ2017), to be held in San Francisco, California, Oct. 26-30, 2017, organizers announced today.

In a media briefing at the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF2016), WCSJ2017 Program Chair Deborah Blum, director of Knight Science Journalism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, revealed the two headliners and urged science journalists to submit proposals for conference sessions on topics of international concern to science journalists—from climate, environment and infectious disease to media manipulation and access to science.

The WCSJ2017 Program Committee, which includes journalists from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, will accept session proposals through Sept. 30.

Ron Winslow, co-chair of the United States-based Organizing Committee, announced that sponsorships covering approximately one-third of the US$2.5 million conference budget have been secured. Johnson & Johnson Innovation has signed on as WCSJ2017’s Diamond Sponsor. Sponsorships will be accepted through August 2017, Winslow said. Winslow is deputy bureau chief for health and science at the Wall Street Journal.

Thierry Zomahoun is president and chief executive officer of the Rwanda-based African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), which is developing a network of centers offering advanced training and research opportunities to top students in science and mathematics across Africa. Through AIMS’s programs and his public advocacy, Zomahoun hopes to change perceptions about the potential of Africa’s youth and demonstrate the continent’s capability to be a global hub for science.

In 2013, he founded the AIMS Next Einstein Forum, bringing together leading thinkers in science, policy, industry and civil society in Africa to leverage science to solve global challenges. A native of Benin, Zomahoun managed multiple non-governmental organizations before becoming AIMS’s chief executive in 2011.

Jennifer Doudna is a professor of chemistry and of molecular and cellular biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She was thrust into the international spotlight after she and Emanuelle Charpentier, now a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, described their use of a bacterial system of “molecular scissors,” CRISPR-Cas9, to edit a genome.

Research using CRISPR for gene editing immediately took off, spurring patent disputes, the launch of new companies and controversies over the ethical use of the technology. Doudna has been at the forefront of the development of the technology and ethics debates. Elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine and as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, she is the recipient of a large number of prizes for biomedical research.

“Thierry Zomahoun’s work to accelerate Africa’s development by building a global science hub, and Jennifer Doudna’s breathtaking science and commitment to ethical uses of science, are excellent expressions of our conference theme, ‘Bridging Science and Societies,’” said Blum. “Science journalists play a central role in bringing science to readers worldwide so that they can leverage knowledge for public good and hold their institutions accountable. We are thrilled that these pioneers will be able to join us at the next World Conference.”

San Francisco was chosen as the site of WCSJ2017 in 2015 by the board of the World Federation of Science Journalists, an organization made up of 51 membership associations of science journalists around the world. WFSJ’s members hold a global conference every other year and will meet in the U.S. for the first time in 2017. The conference will be hosted by the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), in partnership with the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and two host universities, the Berkeley and San Francisco campuses of the University of California.

Among the features of the 2017 conference will be an expanded science program and special training opportunities for students as well as Latin American and Caribbean science journalists. More than 1,200 journalists are expected to immerse themselves in Bay Area science and enjoy events at the university campuses, California Academy of Sciences and Exploratorium as well as a public science event organized by the Bay Area Science Festival.

Fundraising to support conference production as well as speaker and attendee travel is being led by CASW and WFSJ. Winslow said the organizers are recruiting support from foundations, corporations and science and journalism organizations and have received commitments totaling $830,000 to date. Applications for travel fellowships for developing-country journalists will be taken beginning in January 2017, and registration will open in May 2017.

Steven Weinberg presents fourth Patrusky Lecture at ScienceWriters2016

Steven Weinberg, a pioneer of elementary particle physics and cosmology and one of the towering figures of science, presented the fourth Patrusky Lecture on October 30, 2016, at New Horizons in Science, CASW’s annual briefing on emerging research and issues in science.

Weinberg (shown at left in the photo, receiving his citation and commemorative sculpture from CASW President Alan Boyle), awarded the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his seminal work on the unification of the weak and electromagnetic forces, a cornerstone of the Standard Model of elementary particle theory, will ask “What’s the Matter with Quantum Mechanics?” In recent work, Weinberg and others have been looking for new solutions to conceptual problems with the quirky body of physical theory known as quantum mechanics. He told his audience he remained unsatisfied with attempts to explain away the problems of a theory that takes deterministic laws as inputs and explains the outputs in probabilistic terms.

He addressed several hundred writers gathered in San Antonio, Texas, for ScienceWriters2016, a conference that combines the New Horizons science program with the professional development workshops of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW).

In announcing the selection of the fourth Patrusky Lecturer, CASW President Alan Boyle, who is aerospace and science editor for GeekWire, said: "Dr. Weinberg is in the perfect position to survey the past and future frontiers of his field, which is the whole point of New Horizons in Science, and the Patrusky Lecture in particular. The fact that we're having this year's conference in the Lone Star State, his adopted home, makes it even better." 

Weinberg is Jack S. Josey–Welch Foundation Chair in Science and Regental Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he directs a Theory Group exploring physics at the most fundamental level. He previously spoke at New Horizons in Science briefings in 1977 and 2009.

He shared the 1979 prize with Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salam and went on to do important work in quantum field theory, laying the groundwork for new theories in areas including quantum gravity and quantum chromodynamics. Weinberg has predicted a number of the phenomena that have since been observed in high-energy colliders.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Weinberg’s research has been honored with the National Medal of Science, the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society, the Dannie Heinemann Prize for Mathematical Physics, and numerous other awards. He has been elected to the National Academy of Science and Britain's Royal Society and other academies, and holds 16 honorary doctoral degrees. He has written more than 300 scientific articles along with six treatises on general relativity, quantum field theory, cosmology, and quantum mechanics.

 

Weinberg is also a prominent public spokesman for science and a lively expositor who enjoys talking to science writers; this will be his third appearance as a New Horizons in Science speaker. His latest book, To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science, was published in 2015. Among his other books for general readers are Dreams of a Final Theory, The First Three Minutes, and two collections of published essays, Facing Up: Science and its Cultural Adversaries, and Lake Views: This World and the Universe. Many of these essays first appeared in The New York Review of Books. His essay writing has earned Weinberg the Lewis Thomas Award for the Scientist as Poet and other awards.

Educated at Cornell, Copenhagen, and Princeton, Weinberg taught at Columbia, Berkeley, MIT and Harvard, where he was Higgins Professor of Physics, before coming to Texas in 1982.

The Patrusky Lectures

The Patrusky Lectures were launched by CASW in 2013 to honor Ben Patrusky, executive director of CASW for 25 years and director of the New Horizons in Science program for 30 years. Patrusky continues his service to CASW as Director Emeritus. In remarks read to Weinberg before the lecture, Patrusky said he was "profoundly honored ... to have his name so directly associated with mine." 

The previous Patrusky Lectures were given by George M. Whitesides of Harvard University; Donald Johanson of the Institute of Human Origins; and Yale microbiologist Jo Handelsman, associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Video recordings of all Patrusky Lectures may be found on the Patrusky Lectures page. 

TON and CASW launch "story diagrams" series

Today we’re thrilled to announce a new collaboration that we hope will benefit science writers at all levels of experience, from students to veterans. With support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, CASW and The Open Notebook are partnering to produce a series of annotated stories aimed at shedding light on what makes some of the best science writing so outstanding.

A group of distinguished judges will select stories from among winners of major science-writing awards to be presented as “story diagrams,” or Storygrams. The Storygrams will be featured at TON, along with Q&A interviews with the stories’ authors.

Additionally, they’ll be featured at the soon-to-launch CASW Showcase website, which will republish additional selected award-winning science stories and provide community updates on award programs. Through the Storygrams, both TON and CASW hope to show how tough challenges in science journalism and communication can be surmounted as well as amplify the impact of these exceptional stories.

In the first annotation, coming next week, environmental and science journalist Tom Yulsman, a professor of journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, dissects science journalist Cally Carswell’s award-winning 2013 High Country News story “The Tree Coroners.” TON and CASW look forward to bringing more Storygrams to the science journalism community soon.

Published May 26, 2016

CASW elects new board members, officers

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing is pleased to announce that three new members have joined the board, while two continuing board members are rotating into officer slots. Board and officer elections took place during the Council's annual meeting April 30 at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, Calif.

New directors elected to three-year terms (and pictured left to right) are:

With CASW's program agenda expanding and the World Conference of Science Journalists coming to the US in 2017, the election of new members is intended to restore the volunteer board to full strength after a series of recent retirements. Other members recently elected are:

Members newly elected to officer slots at the April meeting are freelance science writer Robin Lloyd, vice president, and National Public Radio science correspondent Richard Harris, treasurer. They succeed Deborah Blum and Tom Siegfried, who have stepped down as vice president and treasurer, respectively, while continuing on the board. Continuing as officers for 2016-17 are Alan Boyle, president, and Charles Petit, secretary. CASW officers are elected annually.

"We're proud to have these leaders in science writing and philanthropy on our team as we take on new challenges, including next year's World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco and other programs we'll be launching in the months ahead," Boyle said. "CASW is now in a good position to build on more than a half-century of improving the quantity and quality of science news reaching the public." 

2016-17 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellows distinguished by diverse experiences, accomplishment

Five science-trained journalists who have pursued their passions for science and writing in locations as diverse as Mexico and Yemen 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 2016-17 academic year, bringing to 151 the number of science writers aided by CASW’s graduate fellowships since 1981.

Chosen from a field of 31 outstanding applicants were:

Matthew Blois (pictured above), a Peace Corps Volunteer based in Guadalajara, Mexico who finds that he “constantly encounters people and ideas that force me to reevaluate how I think about the relationship between humans and the environment. Trained in biology and Spanish at Westmont College, Blois organizes live storytelling events for training and uses a blog to document the stories he encounters. He will pursue a master’s degree in environmental and natural resource journalism from the University of Montana to develop his skill to use varied media to tell stories about science, people and the environment.

Jennifer LuJennifer Lu of Columbia, Missouri. Lu is enrolled in the journalism master’s program at the University of Missouri. Having studied investigative journalism and data reporting this year, she plans to spend her second year applying those skills to science stories specific to Missouri and beyond. 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. She is currently a science writer at the university's Bond Life Sciences Center.

Raleigh McElveryRaleigh McElvery (@raleighmcelvery) of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. McElvery's interest in neuroscience was ignited when Alzheimer’s disease struck her grandmother. While completing summer internships as a neuroscience major at Bowdoin College, she found that she preferred translating science to the public to scientific writing.  A communications internship at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard solidified her enthusiasm for a career as a “courier of knowledge.” McElvery will enroll in the MIT science writing master’s program

Tik RootPathik “Tik” Root (@TikRoot) is a Vermont-based freelancer and Middlebury College graduate. He has reported from Yemen, Rwanda, Spain, Turkey and Russia as a freelance broadcast, newspaper and magazine reporter. While studying and reporting in the Middle East, Root became aware of the critical importance of environmental and resource issues to the stability and sustainability of the modern world. Recipient of a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting travel grant, he will enroll in Columbia University’s master’s in journalism program, concentrating on science, health and the environment.

Maria TemmingMaria Temming (@mariatemming) of Cincinnati, Ohio. As an undergraduate honors student at Elon University, Temming has double-majored in physics and creative writing and once wrote a class essay that compared obsessive compulsive disorder to a calculus problem, finding the area under a graphical curve with integration. After cutting her teeth writing and producing science stories for Sky & Telescope and Scientific American and a campus blog, she will enroll in MIT’s master’s program in science writing.

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.

 

Science writers head for a science city deep in the heart of Texas

CASW's 54th presentation of the New Horizons in Science briefing will take place in the seventh-largest city in the US this year: San Antonio, Texas. Just ahead of the Día de los Muertos, science writers will descend on San Antonio for ScienceWriters2016, which combines the New Horizons program with the workshops program of the National Association of Science Writers and a program of tours, field trips and lunch conversations with local scientists organized by our hosts. This year's sessions will take place at the Omni La Mansión del Rio on San Antonio's famed River Walk, hosted by a local consortium headed by Texas Biomedical Research Institute and BioBridge Global. A detailed program is posted on the conference website.

Proposals for science + science writing sessions due by March 1

CASW invites science writers to propose a special session for the New Horizons in Science program at ScienceWriters2016. "Science + Science Writing" sessions draw on a current science topic for discussion of challenges or issues in covering science. These sessions are intended to elucidate issues facing science writers covering particular areas of science. They also are intended to provide opportunities for open conversation between scientists and writers. Up to three selected sessions will be interwoven with the New Horizons in Science presentations that take place on Sunday and Monday. For guidelines and more information, see the CASW submission page. Proposals must be submitted by March 1.

 

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