AAAS made a strong showing at the 35th Annual EXCEL Awards Gala in Washington D.C. on 15 June, with its journal Science winning awards in three categories.
The EXCEL Awards were created by Association Media & Publishing and are designed to be the "largest and most prestigious award program that exclusively recognizes excellence and leadership in nonprofit association media." The competition is open to all 501(c) nonprofit organizations.
Top: Science's Bill Douthitt, Chrystal Smith and Garvin Grullón (L-R) | Science/AAAS; Bottom: "Martian Obsession" from the 28 November 2014 Science | Science/AAAS, Photograph by Joe McNally
Science received a Gold award for reporter Eric Hand's feature article Martian Obsession. The story profiles Jay Piatek, a wealthy doctor with a passion for collecting meteorites. Piatek owns pieces of "Black Beauty," a two-billion-year-old meteorite from the planet Mars.
"Martian Obsession" was recognized as the best in-depth exploration of a single topic to instruct, inform and/or entertain. Deputy News Editor Robert Coontz served as the article's editor, and understands why the story appealed to the judges of the EXCEL Awards.
"It has colorful characters, fascinating science, and on-the-spot reporting that took the writer from Indianapolis to Casablanca," Coontz said. "Really, what's not to like?"
The journal also received a Silver award for Design Excellence, recognizing the 25 July, 1 August, and 8 August issues of Science, published in the span of three weeks in 2014. The award is given for three consecutive issues with the best combination of images and design that consistently attract readers.
These issues covered a wide variety of topics, from vanishing fauna to a brain-inspired chip. The 25 July cover features an image of a clouded leopard, staring directly into the camera. Science's Design Director Beth Rakouskas, involved in developing the cover images for the award-winning issues, said that Senior Photo Editor Bill Douthitt was tenacious in tracking down the photo and acquiring the rights to use it. The image was captured by a camera activated by a motion sensor, rather than a photographer on the scene.
"Not only is the quality far superior to most images of this type, but who wouldn't fall in love with this animal staring right back at you?" Rakouskas said.
Photo: © Sebastian Kennerknecht/Panthera
Image: © Eye of Science/Science Source
Image: Joe Lertola, Bryan Christie Design
The 1 August issue's cover featured a colorized scanning electron microscope image of a parasitic dog roundworm. Rakouskas appreciated what she described as the "alien quality" of the image, and remarked that its shallow depth of field makes it feel like the roundworm is coming after the reader.
For the 8 August issue, which covered a brain-inspired chip, the design team was striving to illustrate a computer that could think like a human. The result was a cover image created by Joe Lertola, depicting neurons firing on a computer chip.
Science also came away with a Bronze award for Redesign. Last year's revamping of the journal included an updated cover, complete with text to explain both the significance of the cover image and other content in the issue, as well as a layout designed to better accommodate images and graphics to help draw in readers. Rakouskas described this redesign as a huge team effort on the part of all staff, and emphasized the importance of collaboration in designing Science week to week.
"I love having a multidisciplinary design team, who can accurately visualize the research through strong photography, scientific illustration, and conceptual art," Rakouskas said.