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2019 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award Winners Named

2019 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award winners
This year's 16 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards — Gold and Silver awards in each of eight categories — go to 35 individuals in all. | Photos courtesy of the winners

Strong local reporting on the status of Puget Sound’s killer whales, the degradation of soils in a region of France, air quality in Utah, and the impact of an Idaho nuclear research facility are among the winning entries for the 2019 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.

The judges also honored a NOVA program on “The Next Pompeii,” BBC audio reports on the development of technology that enabled astronauts to land on the moon, and a trio of stories by Sharon Begley for STAT on how fierce loyalty to the prevailing hypothesis on the origin of Alzheimer’s disease likely has hampered progress toward a cure.

The awards, administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), recognize distinguished science reporting for a general audience. The awards program, endowed by The Kavli Foundation and open to journalists worldwide, will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year. There were entries from 47 countries this year.

A Gold Award ($5,000) and a Silver Award ($3,500) are presented in each of eight categories. Independent panels of science journalists select the winners.

A team for The Seattle Times won the Gold Award in the large newspaper category for a series on the plight of southern resident killer whales, or orcas, in the Puget Sound region. The Gold Award for spot news/features in the video category went to Mairead Dundas and Marina Bertsch of the France 24 network for a segment on dying soils. Maryn McKenna won the Gold Award in the magazine category for a piece in The New Republic on the impact of right-wing nationalism on global public health.

Reporters for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah took both the Gold and Silver awards in the small newspaper category for stories on local air quality problems and the impact for Utah residents of the nearby Idaho National Laboratory. It is unusual for reporters from the same newspaper to win awards in the same category in a single year, but the judging panel was impressed by the work of the winners, Erica Evans and Amy Joi O’Donoghue, and their newspaper’s commitment to local reporting.

“Congratulations to the winners,” said Alan Leshner, interim AAAS chief executive officer. “The diversity of the stories is impressive and shows the power of good journalism to illuminate important issues in science and society.”

The winners will receive their awards at a Feb. 14 ceremony held in conjunction with the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle. Read a full description of the winning entries here.

The full list of winners of the 2019 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards:


Large Newspaper—Circulation of 150,000 or more

Gold Award
Lynda Mapes, Steve Ringman, Ramon Dompor, Emily Eng and Lauren Frohne 
The Seattle Times
“Hostile Waters: Orcas in Peril” series
“Orcas thrive in a land to the north -- Why are Puget Sound's dying?”
Nov. 11, 2018
“Hunger: The decline of salmon adds to the struggle of Puget Sound’s orcas”
Feb. 24, 2019
“The roar below: How our noise is hurting orcas’ search for salmon”

May 19, 2019

Silver Award
Nathaniel Herzberg
Le Monde (Paris)
“La science au chevet de Notre-Dame”
(“At the bedside of Notre Dame”)
July 10, 2019

Small Newspaper—Circulation less than 150,000 

Gold Award
Erica Evans
Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
“Does Norway hold the key to clean air?”
Oct. 21, 2018
“Winter is coming and so is bad air”
Nov. 18, 2018
“The politics of clean air”
Dec. 26, 2018

Silver Award
Amy Joi O’Donoghue
Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
“Unlocking Science in Idaho”
Nov. 25, 2018


Gold Award
Maryn McKenna
The New Republic
“The Plague Years: How the rise of right-wing nationalism is jeopardizing the world’s health”
April 2019

Silver Award
Tom Whipple
The Times Magazine (London)
“Caucher Birkar — from asylum seeker to Fields Medal winner at Cambridge”
April 6, 2019


Spot News/Feature Reporting (20 minutes or less)

Gold Award
Mairead Dundas and Marina Bertsch
France 24
“Dying soil: An invisible crisis at our feet”
April 27, 2019

Silver Award
Agnes Walton, Lee Doyle, Arielle Duhaime-Ross and Ruben Davis
VICE News Tonight
“Greenland – OMG Expedition”
Oct. 3, 2018

In-Depth Reporting (more than 20 minutes)

Gold Award
Duncan Bulling, Caterina Turoni, Richard Bradley and Chris Schmidt
A NOVA production by Lion Television for WGBH Boston in association with ARTE France
“The Next Pompeii”  
Feb. 20, 2019

Silver Award
Henry Fraser, Carlo Massarella and Dan Kendall
Windfall Films for BBC Four in association with Smithsonian, NHK, Canal+ and Welt24
“How to See a Black Hole: The Universe’s Greatest Mystery”
April 10, 2019


Gold Award
Rory Galloway and Geoff Marsh
BBC Radio 4
“A Sense of Time”
April 2, 2019

Silver Award
Andrew Luck-Baker, Kevin Fong, Rami Tzabar and Chris Browning
BBC World Service
“Thirteen Minutes to the Moon” (podcast and radio series)
“The Fourth Astronaut”
June 10, 2019
“Saving 1968”
June 17, 2019
“We’re go for Powered Descent”
July 1, 2019


Gold Award
Sharon Begley
“The maddening saga of how an Alzheimer’s ‘cabal’ thwarted progress toward a cure for decades”
June 25, 2019   
“How an outsider in Alzheimer’s research bucked the prevailing theory — and clawed for validation”
Oct. 29, 2019 
“As Alzheimer’s drug developers give up on today’s patients, where is the outrage?”
Aug. 15, 2018              

Silver Award
Nicholas Kusnetz
InsideClimate News
“The Impossibly Cute Pika’s Survival May Say Something About Our Future”
May 9, 2019


Gold Award
Lindsay Patterson, Marshall Escamilla and Sara Robberson Lentz
Tumble Science Podcast for Kids
“The Science of Whiskers”
April 5, 2019
“The Cave of the Underground Astronauts”
Jan. 11, 2019

Silver Award
Sharon Oosthoek
Science News for Students (online magazine)
“Rare-plant hunters race against time to save at-risk species”
Feb. 7, 2019



Earl Lane

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