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Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism

About the Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism

The Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism is given every other year to a journalist or team of journalists who have made significant, lasting, and consistent contributions to accurate reporting on the Earth and space sciences for the general public over a period of at least 15 years.

Originally established in 1991 as the Sustained Achievement Award in Science Journalism, AGU renamed the award in honor of Robert C. Cowen, a longtime science editor (now retired) at The Christian Science Monitor.

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Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our honorees. Recipients of the Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism will receive the following benefits during the award presentation year:

  • 1
    An engraved award
  • 2
    Recognition in Eos
  • 3
    Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting
  • 4
    Travel expenses up to $1,000 to attend AGU Fall Meeting
  • 5
    Two complimentary tickets, per winner, to the Honors Banquet at the AGU Fall Meeting


To better understand eligibility for nominators, supporters and committee members, review AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy.

Nominee eligibility

  • The nominee is not required to be an active AGU member.
  • The nominee must be least 15 years into an outstanding science journalism career.
  • The nominee may report on any of the scientific disciplines represented by AGU.
  • Self-nomination for the Cowen Award is not permitted.

Nominator eligibility

  • Nominators are not required to hold an active AGU membership.
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Nomination package

Your nomination package must contain examples of the nominee’s reporting and a nomination letter.  The nomination letter should describe:

  • The nominee’s work and its importance, as well as a synopsis of the nominee’s career in science journalism, particularly his/her reporting on the Earth and space sciences.
  • The qualities of the nominee’s work that has made it outstanding. For example, describing the accuracy, detailed analysis, sense of humor, etc.
  • Noteworthy articles, broadcasts, or other reports the candidate created.
  • Other ways the nominee contributed positively to, and improved, the field of science journalism.

Nominations must also include up to 10 examples of the candidate’s journalism. We accept URLs and uploaded digital files (PDFs or Word documents) of examples. English-language translations or transcripts must accompany any example submitted in a language other than English or any broadcast or multimedia example.

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Nominations are closed until October 2020

Nominations for the 2021 Robert C. Cowen Award will open on 15 October 2020.

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

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Past recipients


Year of honor

Alexandra Witze


Richard Monastersky


Andrew Revkin


Erna Akuginow


Geoffrey Haines-Stiles


Charles Petit


J. Kelly Beatty


Tom Siegfried


Paula S. Apsell


Robert C. Cowen


David Perlman


Richard Kerr




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Nanci Bompey

Director, Media Relations

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General Media Inquiries Contact

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