Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

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.”