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Renowned Harvard chemist and inventor George M. Whitesides presented the first Patrusky Lecture at New Horizons in Science Nov. 3, 2013, as part of ScienceWriters2013 in Gainesville, FL.

Whitesides' lively and provocative talk celebrated goal-driven science built on simplicity. Important inventions, he argued, are made by stacking technologies whose building blocks are scientific and mathematical ideas as simple as binary arithmetic: 0s and 1s.

In Focus: 

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Colleagues surprised Ben Patrusky with tributes of words, music and contributions to a new CASW fund in his honor as they gathered in Gainesville, Florida for ScienceWriters2013 and the 51st New Horizons in Science briefings.

Harvard chemist George M. Whitesides to deliver inaugural Patrusky Lecture

Celebrated chemist and materials scientist George M. Whitesides of Harvard University has been chosen to deliver the first Patrusky Lecture on November 3, 2013, at New Horizons in Science, CASW's annual briefing on emerging research and issues in science.

Whitesides, one of the most imaginative and prolific scientists and inventors of the past century, has been the world’s most cited chemist for the past half-decade. He leads a research group whose stated goal is “to fundamentally change the paradigms of science.” Whitesides' lecture on simplicity and surprise in science will seek to peel back the layers of complexity in modern science to discern the scientific meaning of simplicity and surprise and its implications for developing new scientific methods and approaches to invention.

His audience will be science writers gathered at the University of Florida in Gainesville for ScienceWriters2013, an annual conference that combines the New Horizons science presentations with professional workshops organized by the National Association of Science Writers.  

The Patrusky Lecture was established this spring by the CASW Board of Directors in honor of Ben Patrusky, who managed the New Horizons program for 30 years and served as CASW’s executive director for 25 years. Since retiring in August with the title of Executive Director Emeritus, he continues to serve CASW in a consulting role.

The inaugural Patrusky Lecturer is among the world’s most honored and consulted scientists and inventors. At Harvard, George Whitesides is the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor, one of only 24 faculty members elevated to University Professor for the boundary-crossing nature of their work. He directs one of the most prolific Harvard labs ever: Whitesides and his collaborators have published just under 1,200 peer-reviewed papers and been awarded 107 patents.

About George M. Whitesides

A native of Louisville, KY, and a Harvard graduate, Whitesides earned a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology before joining the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963. He moved to the Harvard chemistry department in 1982, and served as chair of the department from 1986 to 1989. His research interests range widely across physical and organic chemistry and materials science, encompassing surface science, self-assembly, soft lithography, microfluidics, nanotechnology, energy production and conservation, the origin of life, and both complexity and simplicity. He has mentored more than 300 graduate students, postdocs and visiting scholars.

A lively expositor of scientific ideas who also is concerned with the public understanding of science, he has co-authored two books with the photographer Felice Frankel: On the Surface of Things: Images of the Extraordinary in Science (2008); and No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale (2009).

Whitesides is a member of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, and an honorary member of elite scientific academies and societies in the  United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and India. His dozens of science prizes include the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology, the American Chemical Society’s Priestley and F. A. Cotton Medals, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry, the Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Science, the King Faisal International Prize for Science, and most recently the IRI Medal for technological innovation.

A tireless civic scientist and policy adviser, Whitesides has chaired the National Research Council’s Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPUP),and its Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology. He also has served on several other NRC boards and committees. For the National Science Foundation, he has chaired the Chemistry Advisory Committee and Materials Research Committee as well as the Review Panel for the Materials Research Laboratories. He has been named to an additional dozen advisory committees for laboratories and institutes; been a member of the editorial boards of several publications in chemistry and materials science; and co-founded more than a dozen companies.

In Gainesville, Whitesides will be presented a crystal sculpture and certificate commemorating his lecture; in addition, CASW will honor Patrusky for his unparalleled role in advancing the public understanding of science. Also on the New Horizons agenda is a presentation by George T. Whitesides, son of the renowned chemist, on the status of commercial spaceflight and exploration. George T. Whitesides, former chief of staff at NASA, is chief executive officer and president of Virgin Galactic, which has announced plans to put a passenger vehicle into space within the next few months.

Patrusky participated in the selection of George M. Whitesides to present the first annual Patrusky Lecture.

“George Whitesides does me a great honor,” Patrusky said. “Pre-eminent scientist and outstanding communicator that he is, he has also been a generous and abiding friend, mentor and guide to many a science writer, me among them. That was particularly the case during my years as New Horizons program director.  Never in the countless times I reached out to him for ideas about topics and speakers did he fail to deliver leads in abundance and fresh insights to go with them.  I am immensely grateful and forever indebted to him, now all the more so for his gracious acceptance of the invitation to be the first Patrusky Lecturer.”

About Ben Patrusky

CASW President Alan Boyle of NBC News Digital said that the selection of a renowned senior scientist and vivid interpreter of science for the first Patrusky Lecturer is a fitting tribute to Ben himself.

“Ben has always said one of his missions for the New Horizons briefings was to surprise even the most jaded science writers with revelations about new frontiers in research,” Boyle said. “I’m pleased to see that Dr. Whitesides’ subject for the inaugural Patrusky Lecture is ‘Simplicity, Surprise, Science,’ and I’m looking forward to all the surprises in store for November.”

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 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 and administrator of the Intel Science Talent Search. He and his wife live in New York City, where 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.

Former American Scientist magazine editor Rosalind Reid has assumed the combined roles of executive director and New Horizons program director that Patrusky filled for many years.


Health journalists John Fauber and Joanne Silberner share 2013 Victor Cohn prize for medical science reporting

Health journalists John Fauber, a medical investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Joanne Silberner, a freelance multimedia journalist and former National Public Radio correspondent, were presented the 2013 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.

Given the strong pool of entries, the judges elected to split the prize for the first time since the inaugural award in 2000. Silberner, now based in Seattle, was cited for her recent radio series on neglected diseases in developing countries, as well as her outstanding coverage of health policy at NPR. Fauber was cited for his relentless and exemplary investigative reporting on conflicts of interest in medicine and industry.

The Victor Cohn prize, for a body of work published or broadcast within the last five years, is administered by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, Inc. (CASW), a not-for-profit organization of journalists and scientists committed to improving the quality of science news and information reaching the public.

Fauber and Silberner shared the $3,000 award and received certificates at an awards ceremony held in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, November 2, during ScienceWriters2013, a joint meeting of CASW and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). They are shown above at the event with CASW President and Science Editor Alan Boyle. 

Joanne Silberner

Joanne Silberner

The Cohn Prize judges lauded Silberner, whose reporting career spans more than three decades, for “consistently breaking new ground in a heavily covered beat, and recognizing new angles in important stories rather than offering stories that everyone else covers.” Moreover, they said, “she then tells those stories with great humanity, with a keen understanding of public health policy implications and with verve.”

The judges were particularly impressed by Silberner’s enterprising December 2012 seven-part series on global cancer issues in Haiti, India and Uganda: “Her sparkling storytelling and the human dimensions in this series are hallmarks of Silberner’s sterling radio career,” they said. The radio series, broadcast on Public Radio International’s “The World,” was an independent multimedia project initiated by Silberner with travel support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Silberner’s work, the judges added, is “notable for its diversity, and eye (and ear) for the telling detail. In the series on cancer, for example, she catches the listener with the fact that more people in poor and developing countries die of cancer than of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. She also brought a personal emotional connection by comparing a Ugandan breast cancer patient’s experience with her own bout with the disease.” She has also reported on other public health issues, including mental illness, tropical diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, H1N1 influenza, the Affordable Care Act, the Haiti earthquake medical disaster, vaccines and immunology, and drug and food safety regulation at the US Food and Drug Administration.

The prize committee unanimously and readily agreed with the assessment rendered by Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Winslow that her selection of topics “speak to her enterprise and to her determination to mine unexpected and neglected subjects and report to her readers and listeners well ahead of the pack.” Also writing in support of her nomination, Joe Palca of NPR said: “Joanne has that rare combination of the ability to see the big picture and at the same time sweat the details.”

Silberner began her career in medical writing in 1982 for Science News, went on to write for U.S. News & World Report, and then moved into radio at NPR in Washington, DC, where she covered medical research and health policy for 18 years. She has also been a leader in science writing as a founding member of both the DC Science Writers Association and the Association of Health Care Journalists. In addition to freelance work, she is an artist-in-residence at the University of Washington, where she also teaches journalism.

Silberner is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University (BA in biology) and holds a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She also completed a yearlong fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Her work has been widely honored by numerous organizations, earning awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, American Heart Association, New York State Mental Health Association, March of Dimes and Easter Seals. Silberner was also a member of NPR teams that won the Dupont Silver Baton and the Peabody and National Academies Communication awards.

John Fauber

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Fauber was cited for what the judges said was his “dogged, never-give-up” investigative series, dubbed "Side Effects," on financial conflicts of interest in medical research and health care delivery. His  stories also appear in MedPage Today, an online medical news web site, as part of a partnership between the two news organizations.

The series, launched in 2009, looks at the pervasive marketing efforts of drug and medical device companies and how they affect patient care, doctor education, drug regulation and medical publishing. It offers rigorous scrutiny of drug companies’ use of financially conflicted doctors and flawed or over-hyped science to win FDA approval for drugs and devices that then come to market overpriced and overprescribed, the judges noted.

Fauber’s series told, for example, of guidelines issued for asthma treatment that were put together by physicians with financial ties to the maker of Advair, despite readily available evidence that the medicine could pose dangers and is vastly overprescribed. In another story, he revealed eyebrow-raising links between drug makers and disease advocacy groups, which promoted or paid for clinical trials, fueled the rapid growth of drug sales and returned portions of the drug company’s profits to the non-profit advocacy organization. Although Fauber made clear that some of the advocacy groups’ activities greatly advance the development of treatments for “orphan diseases,” his articles raise serious questions about conflicts of interest that may cloud clinical judgment and influence prescribing habits.

In other stories, Fauber exposed how a money-making spinal device won FDA approval even though FDA’s own advisory panel knew researchers with financial ties to the company got study results twice as good as those without such ties.

The judges were especially impressed by Fauber’s revelations that such conflicts are too rarely revealed to physicians or the public, and by his “willingness to pore over thousands of pages of documents, regulatory files and medical articles,” many obtained by open-records requests, in pursuit of his stories.

As the MIT Knight Science Journalism Tracker blog put it, “John Fauber apparently missed the memo on the death of print journalism and the dwindling opportunities for investigative reporting. He continues to go to work, chase documents, make calls and produce remarkable stories that any of us could have done, but didn’t.”

Fauber began his 35-year newspaper career as a reporter at the Milwaukee Sentinel, before leaving for a three-year stint as an investigative columnist for the weekly Business Journal. In 1988, he became a business reporter at the Milwaukee Journal and, in 1995, moved into health, medical and science reporting at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (a consolidation of both Milwaukee papers that is the largest newspaper in Wisconsin).

He covered heart disease, cancer and neurology until 2009, when his work focused on conflicts of interest in medicine. The “Side Effects” series already has won numerous awards, including the 2012 Loeb Prize for beat reporting, the 2010 National Headliner Award for medical/health/science writing, and the Barlett & Steele Silver Award for Investigative Business Journalism. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 2003 for his work on chronic wasting disease. His other honors include the Howard L. Lewis Achievement Award presented by the American Heart Association, an earlier Loeb Prize, and three national journalism fellowships. Fauber has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Victor Cohn Prize

This year’s entries were judged by Ben Patrusky, CASW’s executive director emeritus; Joann Rodgers, a freelance writer and author, and faculty scholar at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics; CASW immediate past president Cristine Russell, a freelance writer and senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; and Carl Zimmer, an independent science and medical journalist.

This year marks the 14th presentation of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.  The inaugural award 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 NPR; 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 Marchionne of the Associated Press; Ron Winslow, of The Wall Street Journal; and Jon Cohen of Science Magazine.

The award honors the late Washington Post medical writer and health columnist Victor Cohn, who distinguished himself by the clarity and effectiveness of his reporting during a 50-year career. He was a co-founder in 1959 of CASW.

To read John Fauber’s work (@fauber_mjs), visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

To learn more about Joanne Silberner’s work (@jsilberner), visit The World and NPR

Registration opens for ScienceWriters2013

CASW and NASW are pleased to invite science writers of every stripe—working, studying, aspiring, retiring—to join us in Gainesville, FL Nov. 1-5 for a cornucopia of science sessions, tours, professional workshops and social and networking events organized by science writers for science writers. CASW's New Horizons in Science briefings, presented Nov. 3 and 4, are a cornerstone of the annual joint event, hosted this year by the University of Florida.

UPDATE: Registration has closed. Thanks to the more than 400 who have registered!

Registration is now open at the ScienceWriters2013 meeting site. The New Horizons briefings, along with all ScienceWriters2013 social events and most campus tours, are all free of charge, although registration is required. (Registration closes Oct. 16.) There are fees for the NASW workshops and off-campus tours, and some have limits; early registration is a way to ensure your choice of activities. All New Horizons sessions will take place at the meeting hotel, the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center Gainesville. Travel information and room reservations at the special meeting rate are available through the meeting site.

Watch the New Horizons program pages on this site, the meeting site, Twitter posts with hashtag #sciwri13 and the meeting Facebook page for updates as the meeting approaches!

ScienceWriters2013 scouting report: Lively science amid palms and pines

I’d just landed from Boston, fleeing the long New England winter, and all my hosts in Gainesville could do was apologize about the weather. Weather? Right. A cloud or two in the sky, a hint of a raindrop.

It was mid-March, and I’d come to scout the ScienceWriters2013 conference site and interview prospective speakers for this year's New Horizons in Science program. I didn’t know what I’d find in this patch of Florida. Sinkholes, maybe.

In fact, five days in Gainesville gave me a lively taste of the abundant science of the place, not to mention the hospitality of Gator Nation. Science writers who come to Gainesville for this year’s NASW workshops, New Horizons science program and local science tours and adventures Nov. 1-5 will return home, as I did, with pleasant memories and a notebook stuffed with unexpected science.

A sprawling, bustling research university

This is the first time the New Horizons science-for-science-writers program will be held in Florida, and I hadn’t realized what a research powerhouse has grown up in Gainesville. According to the latest report (2011) from the Center for Measuring University Performance at Arizona State, the University of Florida ranks 21st in the nation in total research expenditures—eighth among public research universities. It’s especially active in the life sciences—more than 70 percent of UF’s federally sponsored research. UF does about $650 million in sponsored and contract research annually; it awards about 900 PhDs annually, making it one of the top five US research universities in PhD production.

Vacationers may have spotted Gainesville on the map—it’s north of Disney World and Tampa-St. Pete and west of St. Augustine. To reach the campus by flying, you can either get a direct flight to Gainesville (free shuttle to the hotel), drive up the turnpike/interstate from Orlando, or brave the speed traps by driving from Jacksonville. There are airport shuttles and even an express bus from Atlanta.

As you approach, you’ll find a sandy terrain dotted with palms, pine forests and citrus groves and softened by Spanish moss. Florida’s springs and limestone caves are nearby, and there are a few places where the karst plateau has dramatically collapsed: right in Gainesville, the Devil’s Millhopper is a 120-foot-deep sinkhole that started forming 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Since then countless critters have met their end there, leaving a valuable fossil record in what is now a geological state park.

The vastness of this major state university strikes you right off. UF enrolls more than 50,000 students in 16 colleges on a 2,000-acre campus that forms Gainesville’s southwest quadrant. It includes a golf course, experimental fields and greenhouses, a lake (Lake Alice, shown above, is the best place to find actual gators on campus) and barns that are home to a huge bat population. Our meeting venue, the university-affiliated Hilton University of Florida Conference Center Gainesville, sits on the western edge across from the Florida Museum of Natural History and its lush Butterfly Rainforest. Buses loop by, moving students in and out of the older, relaxed central campus, where vehicles are not allowed. Artwork featuring a UF scene decorates every guestroom in the comfortable, sunny Hilton.

What grows in Florida

Butterfly collections at the University of FloridaNASW’s Tinsley Davis and I checked out the fine facilities at our conference and social event venues—the Hilton, the natural history museum and the neighboring Harn Museum of Art—as well as the excellent dining options in laid-back downtown Gainesville. (Gainesville has its share of college-town hipness. Most of the football faithful will be in Jacksonville when we arrive, watching the Gators in their annual interstate clash with the Georgia Bulldogs. But 300+ indie bands and fans will be converging on Gainesville for the 12-venue FEST 12.)

Then Joe Kays and Melissa Blouin took me into the belly of the UF scientific enterprise to interview prospective speakers for this year’s New Horizons.

The trip was a reminder of me how vivid science can be when it’s right in front of you. Florida is a state of growers, and they represent the U.S. food system’s first line of defense against pests and pathogens from tropical regions of Africa and Latin America. Not surprisingly, UF is known for the inventiveness of its plant scientists and geneticists and the quality of its plant pathologists, microbiologists and entomologists.

Into the greenhouses and labs I plunged. I met creative scientists using novel approaches to improving the productivity, nutritional value, resilience and sensory qualities of fruits, vegetables and horticultural products. Others were just back from expeditions around the globe or into the atmosphere; astrobiologists were examining plants brought back from the International Space Station. (Florida has an unusual concentration of space biologists, thanks partly to the proximity of the Kennedy Space Center.) There were plenty of scientists concerned with animals too, including humans; UF is a major medical research center, with basic and clinical research programs focusing on neuroscience, cancer, aging and genetics.

The Gatorade effect is one of the threads strengthening the fabric of UF research. Other institutions may be emphasizing entrepreneurship these days, but UF was famously ahead of the game, having earned millions in annual licensing revenue annually from Gatorade since the product was introduced in 1965. UF, which had $34 million in total patent and licensing revenue in 2011, reinvests that money in new research that, in turn, may bear dividends. The Florida Innovation Hub, an incubator for science-based ventures and a spot that will host one of our social events, is home to about 15 new companies. A new Institute for Plant Innovation is fueled mostly by intellectual-property revenues that faculty are encouraged to plow back into research.

It was terrific to see that the land-grant institution tradition is alive and well in Florida. Along with an agricultural communications program, UF has a major journalism school; a j-school professor has signed up to help prep the UF speakers, and ScienceWriters2013 will be swarming with student journalists.

Heading out of Gainesville, I had to taste UF’s latest invention. I swung by a Publix store and grabbed a package of the newest Florida fruit. As science writers learned at this year’s AAAS meeting, UF sensory scientists have figured out that intense volatiles, not sugar, create great old-fashioned tomato taste. And UF plant breeders have created a tasty new crossbreed that also satisfies the requirements of growers without sacrificing flavor.

I didn’t care which kind of scientist came up with the new tomato, I just wanted to get back to Boston and see what it tasted like. In a word: scrumptious. (And my juicy package made it past the TSA luggage inspectors!) Come to Gainesville, and you can have one too.

About that weather… storm chasers will remember that ScienceWriters2012 was the meeting dominated by an uninvited guest named Superstorm Sandy. This year's attendees will get a better-controlled serving of wild weather: UF’s hurricane and tornado simulation lab (wind machine, right) can generate torrential rain and winds over 200 mph, and a new wind tunnel is being prepped. Hold onto your sunhat: Gainesville will be a blast.—Rosalind Reid, CASW program director

Rosalind Reid to succeed Ben Patrusky as Executive Director of CASW

New officers elected; Patrusky to retire after more than 38 years of service to CASW

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, which presents the nation’s longest-running series of annual seminars for science writers, has named Rosalind Reid to become the organization’s executive director effective Sept. 1, 2013. She will succeed Ben Patrusky, who is retiring from the position he has held for 25 years.

The distinguished writers and scientists of CASW foster programs to improve the quality of science news reaching the public, contribute to the education of young science writers, and organize the annual New Horizons in Science conference. Reid joined CASW as a board member in 2007, and took on the role of New Horizons program director in 2012.

Reid is a seasoned science writer and editor who served from 1992 to 2008 as the editor in chief of American Scientist magazine, where she developed workshops on visual communication for scientists and took the magazine online. Since 2008 she has been embedded in science and technology at Harvard University, serving as executive director first of the university’s Initiative in Innovative Computing, and then of its Institute for Applied Computational Science.

After working as a reporter at newspapers in Maine and North Carolina, she served as a research news editor at North Carolina State University. Later, she was the first Journalist in Residence at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara. Reid is a member of the National Association of Science Writers. A graduate of Syracuse University, she holds a master’s in public policy sciences from Duke University.

“Ros Reid has all the right stuff and all the passion to carry on the proven programs of CASW and to guide our growth in the digital age of journalism and science communications,” said Alan Boyle, newly elected president of CASW and science editor at NBC News Digital.

“The heart and soul of CASW is its emphasis on making the wonders and achievements of science accessible to large swaths of the public, and on giving science writers access to the newsmakers of science. We couldn’t have invented a more perfect individual than Ros Reid to work with our board, and to carry on that mission,” Patrusky said.

Patrusky to continue CASW involvement

Patrusky (photo, left), a widely published freelance science journalist, and a pioneer in the development of science writers seminars, served as New Horizons program director from 1975 to 2004, and was appointed executive director of CASW in 1988. During his tenure as program and executive director, Patrusky also organized and led month-long journalistic expeditions funded by the Kellogg Foundation to Central and South America and Africa. The journeys, which drew science writers from the nation’s premier newspapers in 1991 and 1995, were designed to investigate how science could enhance agricultural productivity to feed growing populations in developing nations. He was a longtime member of the board of Science Service, publisher of Science News, and has received coveted writing awards for his work from the American Institute of Physics and the American Chemical Society. Following his retirement in the fall, he will continue as a consultant to CASW’s board.

Reid steps into a post that incorporates the administrative, fund-raising and programmatic functions of the all-volunteer CASW board. She will continue to serve as the director of New Horizons, held each year since 1963, and since 2005 in conjunction with the National Association of Science Writers’ professional development meeting. The joint meeting, called ScienceWriters, will be held this year November 1-5 at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

“It’s an extraordinary privilege to take on this role with CASW, an organization whose remarkable reputation has endured for more than 50 years because of the quality of its programs and leadership, and in particular the extraordinary wisdom, dedication and steady hand of Ben Patrusky over almost four decades,” Reid said. “As CASW looks to the future, there are opportunities to create new relationships with science communicators, scientists, prospective partner organizations, donors and others committed to public engagement amid the challenges facing our craft.”

Alan Boyle elected President

The year 2013 marks other important transitions for CASW, notably Boyle’s election to the presidency. Boyle (photo, right) previously served as CASW’s treasurer and vice president. He has been science editor at and since 1996, and created the award-winning science blog known as Cosmic Log in 2002.

Boyle succeeds Cristine Russell, who served as CASW president for seven years.

Currently a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and freelance science writer, Russell shepherded CASW through its 50th anniversary year in 2011. She spearheaded efforts to bring a new generation of online journalists onto the Council’s board and to make the organization an associate member of the World Federation of Science Journalists. She will remain on CASW’s executive committee.

“I’m excited about CASW’s future as we move forward with tremendous new leadership in Alan Boyle, his fellow officers, and Ros Reid,” said Russell, noting that the “extraordinary talent, devotion, and continuity provided by Ben Patrusky for so many decades gives them the strongest possible foundation on which to build our programs for the future.”

Other officers elected at the Board’s April 2013 meeting in Washington, D.C., are:

  • Vice President Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin.
  • Secretary Charles Petit, freelancer, writer for the MIT Knight Science Journalism Tracker, and former newspaper and news magazine staffer.
  • Treasurer Tom Siegfried, an award-winning science writer, editor and author who has served as editor in chief of Science News and science editor of The Dallas Morning News.

To read more about CASW’s board members, science advisers, donors, staff, programs and funding opportunities, go to


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