Science's Leslie Roberts Honored for Reporting on Polio Eradication

Science Deputy News Editor Leslie Roberts has received a 2013 Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism from the Association of Health Care Journalists for her story about polio eradication in northern Nigeria.

The October 2013 Science story (free with registration) won first place in the award's category for public health reporting in magazines with a circulation under 500,000. This year's AHCJ contest recognized the best health reporting in 12 categories, including public health, business and health policy. More than 475 entries were screened and judged by over 50 working journalists or journalism professors.

Leslie Roberts | Courtesy Leslie Roberts

Roberts traveled with Muhammad Ali Pate, the former Nigerian minister of state for health, through Kaduna and Katsina States in Nigeria to learn more about the "art" of eradicating polio in one of its last strongholds on the planet. The extraordinary reporting led to a story that addresses the roles of money, tradition, education, violence and global volunteer efforts in stamping out the disease.

"While making the global health implications clear, the article took us to the front lines, where workers (some of whom have died in the effort) encounter people who have so many unmet needs, it is hard for them to comprehend why this one vaccination is the only health measure provided," the award judges wrote about Roberts' entry.

Roberts became Science deputy news editor in 2000, after an earlier stint as a senior writer at the magazine. She received the American Society for Microbiology Public Communications Award in 2005 for the Science article "Polio: The Final Assault?" and shared the 2008 award with Science correspondent Martin Enserink for a 2007 series on malaria. Roberts also won the 2005 Communications Award from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene for her Science article "Rotavirus Vaccines' Second Chance."