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David Perlman Award
for Excellence in
Science Journalism – News

Information on the Perlman Award

The David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – News is an annual award recognizing excellence in science news reporting, defined as work prepared with a deadline of one week or less. It is presented annually to a journalist or a group of journalists for a news story or series in any medium, except books, that makes information about the Earth and space sciences accessible and interesting to the general public.

The Perlman Award, first presented in 2000, was named in honor of the distinguished former science editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize its honorees. Recipients of the David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – News will receive the following benefits with the honor:

  • 1
    Engraved plaque
  • 2
    $5,000 monetary prize
  • 3
    Recognition in Eos
  • 4
    Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting
  • 5
    Travel expenses up to $1,000 to attend AGU Fall Meeting
  • 6
    Two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at the AGU Fall Meeting

Nominee eligibility

AGU membership is not required for nominators or nominees of the David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – News. A person or group may be nominated or may self-nominate for both the Perlman and Sullivan awards in one year, but no individual or group is permitted to win both awards in the same year. Self-nominations are accepted. Nominees should:

  • Be journalists working in any medium, except books
  • Be an author of the submitted report. In the case of collaborative efforts, those involved must determine who is or are the nominee(s) of up to four people, which can include contributors to the audio and visual aspect of the entry
  • Be an author employed in one of the following arenas:
    • Print or electronic publication
    • Broadcast or cable station, or a broadcast network
    • Freelance journalist
  • Submit only one entry for the award in a given year

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The Perlman Award recognizes excellence in reporting a news story or series that:

  • Brings new information or concepts about AGU sciences to the public’s attention,
  • Identifies and corrects misconceptions about AGU sciences, or
  • Makes AGU sciences accessible and interesting to general audiences, without sacrificing accuracy.

The selection committee will also consider accuracy, initiative, originality, and clarity. The committee may also consider the timeliness of the news story, whether it was published first—before other media outlets—and whether it contains information of exceptional originality, importance, surprise, or secrecy.

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Additional Perlman Award eligibility information

Eligible news stories must be about one or more of the scientific disciplines represented by AGU.

Eligible entries for the Perlman Award must have been intended for, and available to, the general public.

Entries must be in English (or include an English translation).

If each segment of a series was identified at the time of publication as being part of the series, the series is eligible to be judged as one entry. Alternatively, coverage of an ongoing activity, such as a scientific society meeting or a natural event, can be regarded as a series. However, no more than three segments of any series may be submitted for judging.

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The 2020 Nominations for all AGU honors will open on Tuesday 15 October 2019. Check back soon to submit a nomination!

We encourage you to read our guide on how to submit a successful nomination. Recipients are chosen by the Perlman Award Committee.

Eligible entries must have been first published between 1 January and 31 December of the year prior to the award year. Most nominations are submitted by the author(s) of the entry. However, if you are not the nominee, AGU will contact the nominee(s) to ask if the nomination should move forward and to request any additional materials that may be needed.

Articles published by 31 December of the year two years prior to the award year (e.g. by 31 December 2018 for the 2020 award) but dated 1 January of the year prior to the award year or later (e.g. dated 1 January 2019 or later) may be submitted for the award, if they were not submitted for the previous year’s award (e.g. were not submitted for the 2019 award).

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Past recipients


Year of honor

Ann Gibbons


Shannon Hall


Courtney Humphries


Alexandra Witze


Sandi Doughton


Andrew Grant


Paul Voosen


Steven Mufson, Brian Vastag, and the Washington Post Graphics Staff


Steve Connor


Pallava Bagla


Margaret Munro


Betsy Mason


Dan Vergano


Jeffrey Kluger


J. Madeleine Nash


Charles W. Petit


Richard Monastersky


Glennda Chui


Richard L. Hill




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Nanci Bompey

Assistant Director, Public Information

202.777.7524 | [email protected]

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Robert Rader

Director, Engagement and Membership

202-777-7418 | [email protected]

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Leah Bland

Program Manager, Honors

202-777-7389 | [email protected]

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Antonio Covington

Program Specialist, Section Awards and Lectures

202-777-7484 | [email protected]