AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards

The Kavli Awards were held at the Field Museum in Chicago.

The Kavli Awards were held at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Last night I went to a party at the Field Museum in Chicago. The company was lovely. The beer was domestic, yet pleasant.

Springrolls, jalapeno poppers and chocolate mousse tarts were available in large quantities. Oh, and awards were given to individuals who had written or produced great pieces of scientific journalism.

The ceremony itself was pretty straightforward. The presenter, Paula Apsell of NOVA, gave a short introduction for the award winners, who would then say a few words about how they came about producing their stories.

I was exhausted after a day of running from conference room to conference room and understanding little from the sessions I attended, but the awards ceremony is where I really began to appreciate the almost Herculean task of trying to communicate advances in research and science to the average reader.

One issue that I frequently find with my reporting is stepping away from the details far enough to think about why this information is valuable to the reader beyond simply being interesting. Unfortunately, this is a central tenet of journalism as a means of public service and if I fail to grasp it in time I’m likely to become an unemployed post-graduate graduate. With scientific journalism, it’s hard enough to understand the details.

And yet, this is something that many journalists do every single day, simplifying the complex and educating readers. It’s certainly something to aspire to. If you’d like to check out the award-winning journalism from the ceremony, check out the links below.

Deep Trouble by Dan Egan 

A story about the search for and risks of invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Warning: Quake in 60 Seconds by Azeen Ghorayshi

Interesting note: This story about the development of an early warning system for earthquakes came from looking at a press release for a legislative bill. Lesson learned: stories can be found anywhere.

Attack of the Mutant Pupfish by Hillary Rosner

A story about a fish that lives in Death Valley and how efforts to save it might mean rethinking old habits of conservation.

Profile: Adrien Treuille by Joshua Seftel 

Treuille developed Foldit, a game where users can fold simulated proteins and assist scientists to advance research for cures for diseases such as HIV or AIDS.

Killer in the Caves by Dennis Wells, Linda Goldman and David Royle.

A story about a disease that’s killing millions of North American bats.

“As Mine Protections Fail, Black Lung Cases Surge,” and “Black-Lung Rule Loopholes Leave Miners Vulnerable” by Howard Berkes, Andrea De Leon, Sandra Bartlett and Chris Hamby.

A joint project by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity.

Uprising: Can a self-trained scientist solve one of the biggest problems in energy policy? by Phil McKenna

A story about natural gas leaks.

“Cold Water Corals: Paradise on the Seabed” by Barbara Lich

I couldn’t find a link for this one, but it’s a science story written for children. I suspect it’s probably some of the hardest science journalism to write – how to simplify something complex and then simplify it some more – but it also seems incredibly rewarding.

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