Science's November 2015 data visualization cover, above, takes top media prize. Three consecutive December issues, below, win Gold for overall design excellence. | Science
AAAS received high honors at the 36th Annual EXCEL Awards Gala in Washington D.C. on 27 June with its journal Science winning four awards recognizing the power of its design in connecting with readers.
Science received the first of two Gold awards for the best cover design on its 6 November 2015 issue. The dramatic data visualization of ions escaping Mars’ atmosphere due to solar wind radiation, along with a display of energy of the escaping particles in a brown to white plume was cited for its impact, originality, execution and editorial relevance. The illustration was created by Scientific Illustrator Valerie Altounian.
"The resulting image is data at its most beautiful," said Beth Rakouskas, design director of Science magazine, of the cover illustration for the Mars issue.
Science won a second Gold award for design excellence, recognizing the 4 December, 11 December, and 18 December issues of Science, published in the span of three weeks in 2015.
The consecutive issues were each applauded for the display of an engaging mix of images and photos in a presentation that drew readers into the broad collection of topics ranging from a special section exploring aging, to a cover story on machine intelligence, and the journal’s 2015 annual celebration of the year’s scientific breakthrough: CRISPR, the genome-editing method.
Rakouskas, who was involved in developing the cover images for the award-winning issues, said a deep understanding of the topics, imagination, and planning by her team contributed to the clarity and inventiveness of the honored designs.
The journal received a Silver award for the cover design of its 4 December 2015 special section on the biology of aging. The cover image showed the hand of a 78-year-man with a 9-month old baby grasping his index finger. The dramatic image was captured during a photo shoot by senior photo editor Christy Steele and photographer Erin Scott, said Rakouskas.
Science also came away with a Bronze award for the design of its 5 June 2015 feature article examining the perils facing isolated tribes such as the Brazilian Amazon’s Awá people, who have recently been contacted by the outside world, a development that anthropologists say exposes isolated tribes to Western diseases and can leave them open to exploitation.
The design of the feature was hailed for its effective use of typeface, color, layout and images. Science magazine’s senior designer Garvin Grullón, managing editor for photography Bill Douthitt, senior photo editor Steele, and photographer Jason Houston worked with Elizabeth Culotta and the publication’s news team to design the feature package, according to Rakouskas.