Penguin on the rocks next to the water in South Africa

walter sullivan award
for excellence in science
journalism - features

Information on the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – Features

The Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – Features is given annually to an individual journalist or a group of journalists in recognition of a feature story or series in any medium, except books, that makes information about the Earth and space sciences both accessible and interesting to non-scientists.

Walter Sullivan, the renowned science writer for The New York Times and namesake of this award, was the first honoree in 1989. In 2000, the award was redefined to honor science feature writing: work prepared with a deadline of more than one week.

Rocky mountains in France

Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our honorees. Recipients of the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – Features will receive the following benefits during the award presentation year:

  • 1
    An 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, per winner, to the Honors Banquet at the AGU Fall Meeting

Eligibility

AGU membership is not required for nominators or nominees of the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – Features. 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
  • Nominees who have won the Sullivan Award during the past two award cycles are not eligible to enter a nomination for the Sullivan Award for the current award cycle. (i.e., the 2018 and 2019 Sullivan Award recipients are not eligible for the 2020 award.)

Pretty Lake, Indiana during summer

Additional Sullivan Award eligibility information

The Sullivan Award recognizes excellence in writing and reporting a feature that:

  • Brings timely 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.

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.

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

Earth from space with sunrise and stars

Submissions

Nominations for the 2021 Walter Sullivan Award are now closed.

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

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.

Eligible entries must have been first published between 1 January and 31 December of the year prior to the award year. Articles published by 31 December of the year two years prior to the award year (e.g. by 31 December 2019 for 2021) but dated 1 January of the year prior to the award year or later (e.g. dated 1 January 2020 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 2020 award).

Sunrising over ice and snow covered stream

Additional information for award submissions

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

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

A nominee may submit only one entry for the award in a given year.

Nominators are welcome to submit up to three parts of a multi-part series, or any individual parts. The selection committee will evaluate all submitted parts of a series collectively as one submission.

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. However, no more than three segments of any series may be submitted for judging. While coverage of an ongoing activity, such as a scientific society meeting or a natural event, may be regarded as a series for the Perlman Award, such coverage is not regarded as a series eligible for the Sullivan Award.

Trees under a read light with long exposure stars in background

Recipients

Joshua Sokol

2020

Sarah Kaplan was awarded the 2019 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism–Features at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 11 December 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given “for excellence in feature reporting about the Earth and space sciences, with a deadline of more than one week.”

 

Citation

Planetary scientists gathered for a 3-day workshop last year to debate one of the most momentous decisions of modern space exploration: Where should NASA send its next Mars rover, a mission that will send back rocks to be examined for signs of life?

The decision was so difficult because we don’t know where life evolved on Earth. The three candidate landing sites represented three theories of life’s origins here: a river delta, a hot springs, and a mesa that exposes multiple layers that could have contained trapped water.

Sarah Kaplan showed readers the stakes of the decision and wove together what we know about Mars—a lot more than most readers realize—and the origins of life on Earth. Throughout the story, readers meet scientists deeply invested in this decision and thrilled at the opportunity to maybe, just maybe, find the first evidence of life on another planet.

The online presentation, a collaboration with Joe Fox and Brittany Renee Mayes on graphics, with a design by Leo Ji and photo editing by Karly Domb Sadof, paired satellite images of Mars with satellite images of comparable spots on Earth. A series of maps and insets showed where the candidate landing sites are on Mars and the geologic features a rover would encounter there. Columbia Hills, a former hot spring, was explored by the rover Spirit and is comparable to a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. Jezero Crater is a former river delta feeding into a lake that might have entombed organic material. And Northeast Syrtis has minerals that suggest it was once part of an underground aquifer, as well as “megabreccias,” or debris from ancient meteorite impacts.

The gorgeous images of Mars look familiar to an earthling, and the science shows the planets weren’t all that different, once—before Mars lost its atmosphere and water and became a “failed planet,” at least where life is concerned. The Mars 2020 rover is our best opportunity to find out if life ever existed there.

—Laura Helmuth, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

Response

Say you’re going to launch a spacecraft to look for signs of ancient life on Mars. Where do you send it?

Mars is a big place, and even the most adventurous rover covered just 28 miles in its lifetime. Any mission to the Red Planet will get to explore only a very tiny spot. So scientists spend countless hours studying and debating in an effort to find just the right one.

As soon as I learned this, during a conversation with a deputy project scientist for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, I knew I had to witness the process myself. The 2020 rover (which is slated to launch this summer) was built to pursue one of the most meaningful questions humans can ask. Its landing site will determine how close we might get to an answer.

So in 2018 I asked my editor, Laura Helmuth, if I could fly to Los Angeles to attend NASA’s final site selection workshop.

I wouldn’t have blamed her if she was skeptical about the idea. Three days of jargon-filled debate in a windowless conference room doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for a compelling narrative. But Laura understood the potential for this story to give readers a glimpse at how the scientific process works—while the possibility of aliens hung in the balance—and for that I am tremendously grateful.

I am also indebted to the scientists who generously explained—and reexplained—their research during the workshop and afterward. Their enthusiasm and eloquence made Mars feel less distant and the search for life there more real.

Of course, “Next Stop, Mars” would not have been half as compelling if not for the brilliant work of my colleagues: Joe Fox and Brittany Renee Mayes, who created the maps with images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; Karly Domb Sadof, who edited the photos; and Leo Ji, who designed the whole story.

I’m thankful to AGU and its members, who give me so much to write about, and to the distinguished writers and researchers on the Walter Sullivan Award Committee who selected my story.

Most of all, I am grateful for readers. Amid an onslaught of grim news from this world, they make time in their lives and space in their minds to wonder about others.

—Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

Douglas Fox received the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism–Features at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 12 December in Washington, D. C. The award “is presented annually to a journalist for a feature story or series in any medium except books that makes information about the Earth and space sciences accessible and interesting to the general public.”

 

Citation

Douglas Fox has spent much of the past 11 years writing about ice: how microscopic dust grains spawn high-altitude ice crystals that lead to rain, how the ice crystals that compose the rings of Saturn led scientists to discover a potential habitat for life deep inside one of Saturn’s moons, and the surprising role that ice may have played as a cradle for the origin of life on Earth 4 billion years ago.

But it was pure serendipity that piqued Doug’s interest in ice’s elemental opposite. While researching a story on climate change in 2015, he happened to speak with a wildfire scientist who told him how little we actually know about the inner workings of a flame.

Whether a single burning match or a roaring forest inferno, a fire’s essence is its rising column of hot, buoyant gases. The smoke plume that billows thousands of feet above a wildfire drives its intake of fresh oxygen and, ultimately, its dangerous behavior on the ground. Doug loved the idea of writing about the ephemeral and unexplored heart of a wildfire, in a story about nothing more than hot air. The topic may seem small and mundane from the outside yet turns out to be vast and expansive on the inside. Doug spent over a year working on his feature story “Firestorm” (High Country News, 3 April 2017), which won the Walter Sullivan Award.

His story traces the unlikely roots of our knowledge on extreme fire behavior, from the incendiary bombing raids of World War II to studies that were performed during the Cold War to predict the impact of nuclear explosions on American suburban neighborhoods. The story reveals the surprisingly destructive power of seemingly trivial forces: the condensation of water vapor exhaled from combustion, a physiologic trait shared by both humans and wildfires. Most important, his story illuminates an archetypal theme in science: how an invisible force, be it magnetism, radiation, or pathogenic microbes, finally became visible to humans for the first time. This story, in other words, helps us see the world in a brand-new light: the light of a burning flame.

—Brian Calvert, High Country News, Paonia, Colo.

Response

It’s a tremendous honor to earn the Walter Sullivan Award, and I want to thank AGU for supporting journalism.

I am especially happy to see the honor go to this particular story (“Firestorm”) because of the recognition that it brings to a number of other people who greatly deserve it.

High Country News, which published the story, has shown such a commitment to the accurate and nuanced telling of complicated stories—a commitment to storytelling not just as a service to the public but also as an art form. No story can live up to its full potential without a proper investment in time, money, space on the page, and the meticulous attention of editors, and Brian Calvert, the magazine’s editor in chief, has seen to it that High Country News accomplishes this again and again.

I am especially grateful to Sarah Gilman, who was my editor on this story and who was a joy to work with, for so many reasons. She was unfailingly excited about this story—seemingly every bit as excited as I was—from the moment that I first approached her with the idea, in September 2015, to the day that it was finally published, in April 2017. She has a deep interest in storytelling—a true talent for it and a perceptive eye—and as she and I partnered on revising this piece, she constantly challenged me to think clearly about the grand arc of the story, the analogies and metaphors that would shape the reader’s understanding, the rhythm of scenes and explanation, and the precise placement of images and details, from the biggest mushroom cloud to the tiniest flicker of a flame. Not every story lives up to its full potential—but I believe that this one did—and I give her equal credit for making that happen. It was hard work but enjoyable and rewarding. Thank you so much, Sarah!

—Douglas Fox, High Country News

Tony Bartelme received the 2017 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science -Journalism–-Features at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 13 December 2017 in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes “a journalist for a feature story or series in any medium except books that makes information about the Earth and space sciences accessible and interesting to the general public.”

 

Citation

Writing about plankton would not seem to be the most glamorous assignment or the easiest ticket onto the front page of South Carolina’s largest newspaper. After all, you are trying to convince readers of the importance of a life-form most people have barely heard of and one that’s often invisible to the naked eye.

But that’s exactly the sort of material that Post and Courier special projects reporter Tony Bartelme gravitates toward: compelling stories that lie on the margins of our knowledge, offering clues to life’s great mysteries. A three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of A Surgeon in the Village: An American Doctor Teaches Brain Surgery in Africa, Bartelme has demonstrated time and again why he is one of the most masterful explanatory journalists of our time.

In “Every Other Breath,” Bartelme explored climate change issues “hiding in plain sight.”

He accompanied scientists through the verdant marshes of South Carolina’s Lowcountry to the turquoise waters of Bermuda to detail the mysterious world of plankton, the creatures that produce half of the world’s oxygen. He dove in the waters off the Florida Keys to chronicle coral bleaching, trudged through knee-deep tides to explain sea rise on the Charleston peninsula, and used a rare thermal imaging camera to show readers what emissions of carbon dioxide look like from buses, planes, and other everyday sources.

The Post and Courier is said to be the first newspaper or magazine to use such a device for a news story.

Endlessly curious and with a storyteller’s gift for rich, colorful prose, Bartelme produced a stunning narrative series that blended -cutting--edge science, history, and vivid anecdotes to drive home to readers the importance of pressing climate issues that often go unnoticed even as they threaten to change the world around us.

—Glenn Smith, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

Response

I’m honored and humbled to receive this year’s Walter Sullivan Award. And I’m also excited because it gives me a chance to highlight what -medium--sized papers can do with support from exceptional management and owners.

I work at what some might think is a dinosaur—a -family--owned newspaper. But instead of a dinosaur, let’s call it an alligator—an animal that survived the mass extinction 65 million years ago and human threats more recently but has begun to rebound. The Post and Courier also has weathered difficult economic challenges but hasn’t lost sight of what’s important: creating -in--depth stories about complex community issues and then doing them in a way that matters to readers.

“Every Other Breath” was an example. It began with a conversation. A scientist told me he’d seen a 40% drop in zooplankton in the marshes by his lab. On the basis of that conversation, I went to my boss with an unusual request: “Hey, I’d like to learn about…ahem…plankton for a few months.” Long pause. “And, oh, I have to go to Bermuda to do this.”

The boss said yes, and that led to a story about one of the most important science issues hardly anyone is talking about. Hardly anyone but scientists. My goal was to bridge the gap between readers and the incredible people who are digging deep into -climate--related issues. This is an expensive process. It requires lots of time because these scientists have to educate me, often for hours, about what they do.

I owe a tremendous debt to the scientists who patiently walked me through their work. And I feel very fortunate for the passport the Post and Courier gave me to meet these dedicated people. I’d like to thank Glenn Smith, the newspaper’s exceptional project editor; Doug Pardue, a colleague and mentor who supported the project in its early stages; and Mitch Pugh, the paper’s -far--seeing executive editor. Videographer Chris Hanclosky built amazing videos, and designer Chad Dunbar put all the pieces together in a compelling way. The newspaper has a number of owners, and I’d like to express my gratitude to them, as well as to John Barnwell, chief executive officer of the parent company, and the newspaper’s publisher, P. J. Browning.

Thanks, finally, to AGU and its members for their work, which, increasingly, carries the highest stakes.

—Tony Bartelme, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

Lizzie Wade received the 2016 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism–Features at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 14 December 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “a journalist for a feature story or series in any medium except books that makes information about the Earth and space sciences accessible and interesting to the general public.”

 

Citation

In her Science feature “Cradle of Life,” Lizzie Wade delves into the fascinating question of how life in the Amazon became so rich and diverse. It’s an edgy topic as well: Two research camps hold irreconcilable views on how rising mountains and shifting rivers transformed habitats over millions of years.

Lizzie could have written the article as a straightforward explanation laying out the arguments of the opposing scientists. Instead, she brings alternative histories to life by taking us on a journey from the foothills of the Andes Mountains on the western edge of the Amazon basin down deep into the rain forest. Her vivid on-the-ground reporting resulted in what the Walter Sullivan Award Committee called “a majestic piece, successful in its efforts to sketch the history, or possible histories, of an enormous and important part of our planet.”

Lizzie’s story had a long gestation. The question of Amazonian biodiversity first entranced her 4 years ago, when she was an intern at Science. After she completed her internship, we posted her to Mexico City as our first Latin America correspondent. Still a cub reporter, Lizzie suddenly found herself responsible for reporting on the disparate scientific communities of Central and South America.

Speaking from experience, I can say that it’s daunting to singlehandedly cover such an expansive territory, and being a ­one-­person bureau can get lonely at times. But Lizzie, a fluent Spanish speaker, has proven that she’s up to the challenge, and in her short tenure so far, she has produced several memorable and high-impact stories.

I enjoy working with Lizzie both because she finds exclusive stories for us and because she’s a wordsmith who pays close attention to every detail of a story. Her love of language shines through in “Cradle of Life,” resulting in a narrative that traverses vast passages of time while weaving in telling details of the scientists whose work is illuminating the Amazon’s origins.

—Richard Stone, Science Magazine, Washington, D.C.

Response

I’m very honored to receive this year’s Walter Sullivan Award. I’m particularly delighted because both of the editors who worked on this story, Richard Stone and Tim Appenzeller, are past Sullivan recipients. Weaving together the details of a scientific debate with a journey through disparate landscapes was an incredible writing challenge, and I sincerely thank Rich and Tim for helping me find a path through the weeds.

One of the great joys of science reporting is interviewing such intelligent, generous, and patient sources. I’d like to thank all the scientists who were kind enough to include me on this ­once-­in-­a-­lifetime trip, especially Sherilyn Fritz of the University of ­Nebraska–­Lincoln and Paul Baker of Duke University, and Yachay Tech for organizing it. They had help from Marianne van Vlaardingen and her team at Pantiacolla Tours, who did a phenomenal job managing the logistics and making sure we ate delicious food at every stop along the way. Earth scientists can be hard to keep up with, especially for a reporter who is more at home in urban jungles than natural ones. Thank you all for making sure I made it out of the cloud forest alive, especially Lauren Gonzalez, who pulled me to safety after I tumbled off the trail (and nearly off a cliff).

My story wouldn’t have been the same without the photographs taken by Jason Houston. His images of the landscapes and portraits of the researchers made my words come to life. His nightly slide shows of the pictures he had taken that day were a highlight of the trip for everyone, and his generosity and curiosity should be a model for all journalists.

And, of course, thank you to Science. After merely 6 months as a news intern, the magazine sent me to Mexico City to be its Latin America correspondent. It is a great privilege and responsibility to cover this often overlooked region for one of the world’s best science publications. But I don’t want to do it alone. We need more science reporters in Latin America, not to mention scientists. And they shouldn’t all be foreigners like me. I humbly encourage AGU and all its members to think about how they can support science and science communication in Latin America, so more stories like this one can be told.

—Lizzie Wade, Science Magazine, Mexico City, ­Mexico

Alexandra Witze

2016

Douglas Fox received the 2015 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – Features at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 16 December 2015 in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “a journalist for a feature story or series in any medium except books that makes information about the Earth and space sciences accessible and interesting to the general public.”

 

Citation

Douglas Fox spent the first 8 years of his journalism career writing about biology before turning to Earth science in 2007, during a 7–week reporting trip to West Antarctica. He hadn’t been formally exposed to the Earth sciences, but that trip reawakened his old interests, nurtured as a youngster roaming the naked landscapes of Arizona, Colorado, and the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico.

Doug strives to spend time immersed with researchers in the field—whether on a ship at sea, in a tent on a polar ice sheet, or traversing the Basin and Range in the American West—gathering hundreds of pages of notes on the tiny, telling details that can bring a story to life: the cream cheese texture of deep–sea mud, the rotten–egg stench of petroleum in stone, or the way that a rock hammer serves as the sensory proboscis of a geologist. Doug often writes about things that seem mundane—dust or ice or precariously balanced rocks—but hidden in these minutiae, he somehow finds expansive stories that change how we see the world around us.

The feature for which Doug won the Walter Sullivan Award, “The Dust Detectives” (High Country News, 22 December 2014), grew out of an interest that germinated over a period of years. Doug first spent time with dust researchers in 2011, exploring the unseen biosphere of airborne microbes and their possible role in rainfall. He published a pair of stories with Discover and Science News for Students in 2012 but felt that there remained something larger to be explored: the connection between the microcosm of a single dust speck and the great, global commerce of these invisible particles that shapes our world.

With his painstakingly precise and thorough reporting and artist’s eye for detail, Doug performed a sort of journalistic alchemy. In his hands, dust is no longer the idle bits drifting in beams of light, but a powerful, almost magic–seeming force that shapes ecosystems in ways that scientists are just beginning to understand. Conveying the importance of microscopic and macroscopic worlds beyond our senses is no easy task, and yet Doug manages to bring it all into solid, intricate focus, enticing readers with a story that ranges from Kurt Vonnegut to the Silk Road and with vivid portraits of the far–off places that shape our own, including mountain ranges that themselves seem almost alive in their animation through geologic time.

—Jodi Peterson, High Country News, Paonia, Colo.

Response

I’m honored to receive the Walter Sullivan award, and happy, for many reasons, to see this particular story garner that recognition (“The Dust Detectives,” High Country News, 22 December 2014).

I had envisioned writing this story for 2 years—and had a sense that there was something large to be said. But that alone does not guarantee that a story will turn out well. The distance from an idea to words printed on the page is long, and making that journey requires that you depend on others.

I’m grateful for the generosity of those people whom I interviewed and visited while working on this story between 2011 and 2014. You were probably surprised by the number of conversations this entailed, and the sheer number of hours spent talking. It might have felt excessive and exhausting. But those long hours almost always make a story better. In the case of this story, I recall one tired conversation that happened at 8:00 p.m. in a hotel bar, after a long day in the lab. That conversation transpired in November 2011—and spawned what would become an entire section in the story published in December 2014, tracing an important thread of history from Kurt and Bernard Vonnegut in the 1940s through to the present day.

I want to thank High Country News not just for giving me the chance to write this story but simply for being the magazine, the organization, and the people that you are. I enjoy working with you. And I deeply respect your commitment to storytelling, and to providing the resources, the patient thought, and the space on a page that this requires.

And I want to thank Sarah Gilman, who edited me from beginning to end. Some stories come out well–crystallized the first time around, and the editing is straightforward. This was not one of those stories. The idea was there but required plenty of chiseling, honing, and generous use of the delete key to bring it out. It was Sarah who took a patient interest in the story and worked with me for 6 months, through countless rounds of suggestions and questions. That process can be exhausting, grating, and painful. But in this rare case it was painless—a partnership with someone whom I’d never met face to face but came to trust and respect. Thank you, Sarah! I enjoyed working with you.

—Douglas Fox, Freelance Writer, Alameda, Calif.

Journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert received the 2014 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism—Features at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 17 December 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. Kolbert was honored for the article “Annals of Extinction: The Lost World: Part Two,” published in the 23&30 December issue of The New Yorker magazine. Kolbert’s powerful, yet whimsical article examines growing environmental havoc in our world through the lens of the massive, end–Ordovician extinction some 440 million years ago and the fossils of graptolites, a species almost eliminated by that devastating event. Kolbert shows that just as nuclear fallout is a contemporary human signature in Earth’s geological strata, so are our impacts on our planet’s living creatures and the fossil record they are leaving behind. Her story considers whether such signals indicate a new geologic epoch dominated by human activity and contemplates what future scientists might learn from the strata being laid down today. The Sullivan Award is for work published with a deadline of more than 1 week.

 

Citation

Writing about extinction is an inherently depressing endeavor, and one would think that writing about the sixth extinction, which is unfolding now and which could result in the greatest loss of diversity since the asteroid impact that ended the reign of the dinosaurs, would be even grimmer. But Elizabeth Kolbert has the incredible talent to make stories of environmental catastrophe vivid, gripping, fascinating—and accessible. In her New Yorker article “The Lost World,” which was excerpted from her New York Times best-selling book, The Sixth Extinction, she begins with what might seem like an obscure footnote in the long narrative of geological change—the extinction of the graptolites at the end of the Ordovician period—and then opens the story into a larger investigation into mass extinctions and their remnants.

Always an intrepid reporter who grounds her stories in field reporting, Kolbert takes us to Dob’s Linn in Scotland to collect graptolites with stratigrapher and “scientific hooligan” Jan Zalasicwicz, who is on a campaign to convince his colleagues that we have entered a new geologic era, the Anthropocene. In the article’s most brilliant turn, she moves to the question of how future geologists (or their equivalent) will be able to discern evidence of the Anthropocene era, assuming, of course, it too will come to an end. Perhaps it will be our subways or even our soda cans—as Kolbert writes, a “Dr. Pepper spike.” In his New York Times Book Review of The Sixth Extinction, Al Gore wrote, “Elizabeth Kolbert has established herself as one of our very best science writers. She has developed a distinctive and eloquent voice of consciousness on issues arising from the extraordinary assault on the ecosphere.” And the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “It is not possible to overstate the importance of Kolbert’s book. Her prose is lucid, accessible and even entertaining as she reveals the dark theater playing out on our globe.” A serious, painstakingly thorough journalist, a keen and informed observer of the world around us, Elizabeth Kolbert translates the technical into the playful and poetic even as she forces us to contemplate some of the most dire issues of our time—who else could describe a graptolite fossil as resembling a set of false eyelashes for a Barbie doll?

—Gillian Blake, Henry Holt, New York, N.Y.

Response

I am extremely honored to have received this year’s Walter Sullivan Award. Walter Sullivan set a very high bar for science journalists, and many of the previous winners have served as models to me, including such brilliant writers as John McPhee, Jon Krakauer, and Tim Folger.

The stories that formed “The Lost World,” which appeared in The New Yorker, were written as part of a book, The Sixth Extinction, published by Henry Holt and Co. That book took much longer to complete than it was supposed to—nearly 5 years. I was very fortunate during that time to have the support and counsel of Gillian Blake, Holt’s editor in chief. I can’t thank Gillian enough for all of her help and her advice. I also want to thank Holt’s president, Steve Rubin, and its deputy publisher, Maggie Richards. I was lucky, too, to have such wonderful and sympathetic editors at The New Yorker, including John Bennet, Dorothy Wickenden, and David Remnick.

Science journalists might be described as the barnacles of the scientific world; we’re entirely dependent on the scientists we adhere to. I owe a tremendous debt to the many scientists who assisted me in writing “The Lost World,” particularly to Jan Zalasiewicz, of the University of Leicester; Ian Millar and Dan Condon, of the British Geological Survey; and Pascal Tassy, of Paris’s Museum of Natural History.

—Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, New York, N.Y.

Freelance journalist Tim Folger received the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism–Features at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 11 December 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. Folger was honored for the article “The Calm Before the Wave,” published in February 2012 by National Geographic magazine. In this feature report, Folger recounts the story of tsunamis, especially the ones that struck Japan and Indonesia in the past decade, exploring the science of those hazards, their history, the destruction and terror they inflict, and efforts to improve survival odds for victims of future inundations. The article brings to life the personal terror, the scientific puzzles, and the enduring, seemingly insurmountable dangers to large populations around the world from these hazards. The Sullivan Award is for work published with a deadline pressure of more than 1 week.

 

Citation

A writer needs two distinct qualities to produce an article like “The Calm Before the Wave,” the piece on tsunamis for which Tim Folger is being honored with the 2013 Walter Sullivan Award. Like any good science writer, he needs the ability to sort through a large mass of scientific information and transform it into a clear, compelling narrative. But he also needs an empathic eye and ear—the ability to feel his way into the lives of people whose stories are utterly different from his own and to see and hear the telling details that will make those people come alive on the page.

Tim went around the world to report this article. He traveled in Japan and in Indonesia, to Singapore, and to the Pacific Northwest. National Geographic’s lead times are so long that Tim’s piece was always destined to appear many months after the Japanese tsunami of March 2011. Every other media outlet on the planet was bound to have a whack at the subject before Tim’s take on it could see print. The pressure was on him to deliver something fresh and lasting.

Tim did just that. Readers will remember the picture he lodged in their minds of how tsunamis form at subduction zones and cross entire oceans and of how detector buoys can thus make a difference. They’ll remember the scars Tim saw on the palms of Jin Sato, mayor of Minamisanriku, Japan, who as a child in 1960 survived a tsunami that began off Chile and who survived the 2011 tsunami, as his town was destroyed around him, by clenching a radio antenna all night long. Readers will remember too the uniformed school children in Padang, Indonesia, chanting the 99 names of Allah as they’re put through a tsunami drill by their teacher—a teacher who lives with the knowledge that her first graders won’t be able to run fast enough to get to high ground. “The fundamental problem is that there are seven billion of us, and too many of us are living in places that are dangerous,” paleoseismologist Kerry Sieh told Tim. “We’ve built ourselves into situations where we simply can’t get away.”

Thanks to Tim, millions of readers around the globe now have an indelible understanding of that problem in all its dimensions, scientific and otherwise. My colleagues at National Geographic and I are very proud of his work. We thank the American Geophysical Union for recognizing it, and we congratulate Tim on this much ­deserved award.

—ROBERT KUNZIG, National Geographic Magazine, Washington, D.C.

Response

Few publications have the resources to send journalists halfway around world in pursuit of a story. National Geographic gave me the opportunity to see firsthand the horrific aftermath of a tsunami and to meet with survivors. I’m very grateful to National Geographic for funding nearly a month of costly travel in four different countries. It’s a privilege to write for such a remarkable magazine.

While working on this story I met with many scientists, including several AGU members, who were very generous with their time. I would especially like to thank Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), who, besides providing much valuable information, graciously agreed to review my article before publication. Jody Bourgeois of the University of Washington, David Yamaguchi, an independent researcher, and Mary Ann Reinhart of Geoengineers in Tacoma tramped through knee-deep mud to show me 300-year-old tsunami deposits along the Washington coast. Kerry Sieh of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore gave me a detailed and frightening overview of the ongoing threat tsunamis pose to countries bordering the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Hiroo Kanamori of the California Institute of Technology patiently answered many very basic questions about tsunamis.

I would also like to thank Jin Sato, the mayor of Minamisanriku, one of several Japanese towns that were obliterated by the March 2011 tsunami. Mayor Sato met with me at a time when far more pressing concerns demanded his attention. The Japanese Red Cross helped to arrange interviews with several survivors of the tsunami. On the other side of the Pacific, Lee Shipman, the emergency management director for the Shoalwater Bay Tribe in Washington State, showed me how her small community has become a model of tsunami preparedness. John Schelling, Brynne Walker, Mark Clemens, and Dave Nelson of Washington’s Emergency Management Division and Nathan Wood of the USGS in Vancouver, Wash., talked with me about what Washington, Oregon, and California have done—and still need to do—to prepare for the inevitable tsunami that will one day hit the region.

I could not have written this story without the help of four exceptionally resourceful women: Kay Ohara translated for me in Japan; Vivi Yanti and Patra Rina Dewi were my indispensable guides in Banda Aceh and Padang, Indonesia; and Irina Rafliana of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences in Jakarta suggested many valuable contacts. I’m much indebted to Robert Kunzig, my editor at National Geographic. Without his insight, skill, and encouragement, the American Geophysical Union would be giving this year’s Walter Sullivan Award to a different writer. So, on behalf of a number of people, I thank AGU for this wonderful honor, which recognizes the work of many hands. And, finally, this assignment renewed my appreciation for the vital research carried out by members of AGU and their colleagues in the worldwide geosciences community. Were it not for their efforts, there would be no tsunami early­warning systems in any of the world’s oceans. In the decades ahead those systems will save thousands of lives.

—TIM FOLGER, Gallup, N. M.

Stephen Hall, a freelance science writer and science-communication teacher, received the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism–Features at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 5 December 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. Hall was honored for the article “At Fault?” published 15 September 2011 in Nature. The article examines the legal, personal, and political repercussions from a 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy for seismologists who had attempted to convey seismic risk assessments to the public. The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated the medieval town and caused more than 300 deaths. Six scientists and one government official were subsequently convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to prison for inadequately assessing and mischaracterizing the risks to city residents, despite the inexact nature of seismic risk assessment. The Sullivan award is for work published with a deadline pressure of more than 1 week.

 

Citation

The editors at Nature congratulate Stephen S. Hall for winning the 2012 Walter Sullivan Award for excellence in science journalism for his feature story “At Fault” (http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110914/full/477264a.html).

Stephen’s feature is an exemplary example of thorough reporting and compelling narrative writing. In the story, he asked how a devastating 2009 earthquake in the Italian city of L’Aquila, which killed more than 300 people, led to a group of scientists being put on trial for manslaughter.

At the time, the charges were internationally condemned as a baseless attempt to prosecute scientists over a failure to predict an impending earthquake. However, by visiting L’Aquila and talking to some of the survivors and scientists involved, Stephen revealed the real issue at the heart of this story. The survivors did not expect government-appointed scientists to predict the earthquake; they were accusing them of failing to evaluate and communicate the risks of a major earthquake.

In his story, Stephen artfully describes how a series of shocks in early 2009 built fear and tension in the community and how, the week before the major shock, residents heard reassurance from public officials. He describes the devastation caused by the earthquake, the betrayal and anger felt by people whose relatives were killed, and the scientists’ arguments that they were accurate in assessing the risks. Stephen goes on to ask whether this battle could be played out more often in a future riddled with climate-related extreme events such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts. Will scientists be held accountable for their ability to predict these risks too?

In short, Stephen’s story had everything that a piece of stellar science journalism should have: voice, drama, science, intellectual challenge, and controversy. Stephen should also receive great credit for his reporting, in which he negotiated a foreign country, language, and legal system.

The story is one of the best feature stories that I have had the pleasure to edit, it provoked a great response from our readers, and it was an honor for Nature to publish it.

—Helen Pearson, Chief Features Editor, Nature, London

Response

The 2009 L’Aquila earthquake was, and continues to be, a tragedy of enormous proportions. It was obviously a tragedy for the 309 people who perished in the event and for their loved ones, along with the many thousands rendered homeless by the event. It continues to be a civic tragedy for this medieval jewel of a city in the heart of the Abruzzo, which is still crippled nearly four years after the event. And it has been a tragic episode for the scientific community, which has seen seven Italian colleagues convicted of manslaughter and facing serious jail time if their appeals are unsuccessful.

When Judge Marco Billi announced his verdict last October, the L’Aquila trial became a lightning rod for intense criticism within and beyond the geophysics community. Editorials in the scientific and lay press denounced the decision, and scientific experts declared that the court case would have a chilling effect on the ability (and willingness) of scientists to convey risk to the public. Many commentators ridiculed the verdict as an inexplicable act by a provincial court that essentially convicted scientists for failing to predict an earthquake. Some likened the trial to a modern-day version of the persecution of Galileo.

The facts in the case, as documented not only in the account in Nature that is being recognized by the AGU for this year’s Sullivan Award but in a subsequent story in Science, suggest that other important issues are at the heart of the L’Aquila case, issues of immense ethical and legal concern to scientists everywhere.

One paramount issue involves the proper communication of scientific information (including probabilistic risk) to members of the general public. The L’Aquila trial heard testimony suggesting that representatives of Italy’s Big Risks Committee made scientifically inaccurate statements that may have influenced the behavior of residents in the hours preceding the main seismic event. Whether or not this constitutes a crime, the scientific community can take little comfort in the notion that incorrect scientific statements to the public may have contributed, even indirectly, to civilian behavior that ultimately had tragic consequences.

News reports have also suggested that Italy’s cabinet-level Department of Civil Protection convened a special session of the Big Risks Committee in L’Aquila a week prior to the April 6 earthquake in part to calm and reassure the local population, which had been unnerved by unofficial predictions of an imminent seismic event. The use of an expert scientific panel by government officials for essentially public relations purposes highlights the tensions that can occur when policy makers use scientific experts for goals other than purely technical risk assessment.

The L’Aquila episode is a tragic but illuminating opportunity for scientists to think about the best way to communicate risk to the public. It is also an opportunity to rethink the often tense boundary between rigorous scientific risk assessment and broader public policy goals. In an era of climate change, extreme weather events, and the encroachment of human populations in ever greater proximity to active volcanoes and high-risk earthquake zones, scientists and policy makers need to confront the growing challenge of communicating risk clearly and effectively to the public.

–Stephen Hall, Freelance Journalist, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Roberta Kwok received the Walter Sullivan Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 15 December 2010 in San Francisco, Calif. Kwok was honored for “The rock that fell to Earth,” published in the journal Nature, which recounts the first space-to-ground tracking of a tiny asteroid that struck Earth. Kwok’s story brings to life the drama of the asteroid’s belated detection in space, its plunge through Earth’s atmosphere, and, finally, the recovery of its remnants from the desert in Sudan.

 

Citation

We at Nature congratulate Roberta Kwok for winning the 2010 Walter Sullivan Award for her story “The rock that fell to Earth” (458, 401, 2009).

Her remarkable article tells the tale of 2008 TC3, a little boulder in space that was unknown until a telescope operator in Arizona spotted it on a collision course with the Earth. Less than 24 hours later, the rock lit up the skies above Sudan as it hit the atmosphere and broke into pieces that dropped to the desert floor.

The case of 2008 TC3 was unusual because researchers were eventually able to find some of those pieces, making this the first time that an object had been tracked through space and then recovered from the ground.

Roberta followed the opposite trajectory through her story of 2008 TC3. At the time she wrote it, she was an intern in our Washington, D. C., office, just out of graduate school, and this was her first feature for us. From that start on the ground floor of science journalism, she is now a rising star with much promise in her future.

The article about 2008 TC3 showcases Roberta’s tenacious reporting and talented writing. Under a tight deadline she contacted people around the world who had played a role in the case of the little asteroid. She collected the small but critical details that allowed her to bring this story to life, putting readers in the room with the telescope operator when he first saw the rock. We also were able to listen in on conversations among researchers tracking the object and witness the rock piercing the atmosphere from within the cockpit of a KLM flight over Africa. In the last act of the drama, Roberta put us in the middle of the desert along with the scientists literally combing the landscape for fresh shards of meteorite.

It is fitting that AGU is honoring Roberta with an award named after Walter Sullivan, who opened up new worlds to millions of readers through reporting that captured the excitement of research in action. Roberta’s tale of 2008 TC3 did the same, and I am confident she will continue to transport readers with that same wonder of discovery as her career develops.

—RICH MONASTERSKY, Features Editor, Nature

Response

It is a tremendous honor to receive this award, which has been given to so many science writers I admire.

Credit for the story idea belongs to Oliver Morton, the Nature editor who assigned me to write a feature about the collision of asteroid 2008 TC3 and the discovery of the meteorites. It was a rare opportunity to construct a fast paced, dramatic narrative with an international cast of characters. During this assignment I received crucial guidance from features editor Rich Monastersky and my internship mentor Alexandra Witze, both past winners of AGU awards for their writing on geophysical sciences. Alex pointed me in the right direction as I began reporting, and Rich patiently worked with me over several drafts to shape the story into the final published version.

The scientists I interviewed for this story were unfailingly open and generous. I owe thanks to Peter Jenniskens of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, Richard Kowalski of the Catalina Sky Survey, Tim Spahr of the Minor Planet Center, Steve Chesley of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mark Boslough of Sandia National Laboratories, Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario, Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast, Jacob Kuiper of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, Muawia Hamid Shaddad of the University of Khartoum, Mike Zolensky of the NASA Johnson Space Center, and many others. They told their stories with such excitement and vivid detail that my job was very easy.

I’m also grateful to the mentors who helped me along the way to the Nature internship. Holly Stocking and Scott Sanders at Indiana University Bloomington encouraged me to try science writing, and Rob Irion and other instructors at University of California, Santa Cruz’s science communication program provided invaluable training in the craft.

Finally, I would like to thank AGU for its efforts to recognize and aid science communication. I look forward to speaking to more AGU members in the future and telling the stories of their work.

—ROBERTA KWOK, Foster City, Calif.

Jim Lebans, Jim Handman, Bob McDonald, and Zerah Lurie of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio’s Quirks & Quarks program received the Walter Sullivan Award at the Joint Assembly, held 26 May 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Lebans, Handman, McDonald, and Lurie were honored for “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” an eight-part, audio portrait of Canada after 4 decades of expected climate change, depicted through the words of Canadian scientists at the forefront of predicting climate, ecological, and societal transformations.

 

Citation

It is an enormous honor for me to provide this citation for the presentation of the 2009 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism to Jim Handman, Jim Lebans, Zerah Lurie, and Bob McDonald for their radio production “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate.”

Many Canadians, like me, have grown up listening to Canada’s national science radio program —Quirks & Quarks— every Saturday afternoon from 12:06 to 1:00 P.M. on CBC Radio. Since 1975, the CBC team has kept Canadians abreast of the world’s scientific advances, from the smelling abilities of Tyrannosaurus rex, to the mathematical system of the Aztecs, to dead stars millions of light years away. The Quirks & Quarks team translates even the most technical scientific issue into a widely accessible and engrossing story line.

Many Quirks & Quarks programs follow a similar format, with probing and thought-provoking questions being posed to scientists about various new discoveries. In “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” producers Jim Handman, Jim Lebans, Zerah Lurie, and host Bob McDonald serve up something different. Listeners in Canada and around the world via their popular weekly podcast are taken on a journey into the future through the eyes of 11 Canadian climate scientists.

From the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Arctic to the 49th parallel, these scientists paint a picture of a fundamentally different Canadian landscape. The calm, confident, and persuasive manner with which the scientists engage the listener is surreal. And herein lies the power of the production. Rather than take the listener down the predictable path of drama and sensationalism, the producers gently nudge the scientists to explore the boundaries of their knowledge and to translate that into a language accessible to everyone.

Global warming is without a doubt the defining issue of our time. Many in the general public do not realize that even if we immediately stabilized atmospheric greenhouse gases at current levels, the Arctic would likely still go ice free in the summer, between 10% and 25% of the world’s species would likely still be committed to extinction, and weather will continue to become more extreme. We have as much warming in store over the next few decades as has already transpired since preindustrial times when the Thames River in England used to periodically freeze over. It is this so-called and well-understood warming commitment that allowed the scientists to explore with some confidence the 2050 implications of global warming for Canadian society.

Today we are at a critical juncture. The 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in December in Copenhagen to hammer out a post-Kyoto global warming treaty. Global warming is a problem created by our generation that will be solved by our children’s generation so that their children live in a more sustainable world. “Canada 2050” offers a glimpse of the country our grandchildren will inherit; it serves as a catalyst to instill the sense of urgency needed to harness the creativity and ingenuity of today’s youth in developing the technological and behavioral solutions to global warming; and it serves as a wake-up call for a generation of baby boomers accustomed to unsustainable lifestyles.

Like many in the field of climate science, I have been frustrated over the years with aspects of the media portrayal of the causes and consequences of global warming. But throughout the past 3 decades, the CBC Quirks & Quarks team has stuck steadfastly to science in their quest to inform the Canadian public. The producers and host of the show are national treasures, and their “Canada 2050” program represents the very best in science journalism.

—ANDREW J. WEAVER, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Response

First, I would like to thank AGU for honoring us, once again, with this prestigious award. We have been very lucky, over the past 35 years, to have won many awards for science journalism from colleagues across the world. But the Walter Sullivan Award is special: It comes from the scientists themselves. And as a science journalist, there is no greater honor than being recognized by the people we interview and write about every week. It means we got the science right, which really matters to us.

Second, I would like to acknowledge the incredible work done by my team at Quirks & Quarks: researcher Zerah Lurie, our host Bob McDonald, and most of all, veteran producer and writer Jim Lebans. Radio is a collaborative affair: We work together, and it takes a village of journalists, producers, and technicians to raise a documentary. But Jim Lebans stands above the crowd. He’s the guy you want digging in the corners, making the plays, waiting on the edge of the crease (sorry, but hockey analogies come naturally to Canadians). His strong story sense, his imaginative and irreverent writing, his intuitive production skills, and his vast knowledge of science all combine to make him the consummate science journalist he is. AGU’s wonderful recognition of Jim and his work is justly deserved.

Third, I would like to thank CBC Radio, Canada’s national public radio network, for supporting and encouraging our program. Public broadcasting is under attack these days in Canada, with a huge budget deficit, services and programs being chopped, and hundreds of our colleagues being laid off as we speak. But programs like Quirks & Quarks couldn’t exist without a true public broadcasting system. Despite the incredible popularity of our show (we have half a million listeners every week across Canada, and our podcast is one of the top 10 in the country), no commercial network would ever spend the time and resources on a program like ours. Sometimes I fear that Canadians—and especially our politicians—don’t realize what a precious jewel they have in the CBC, and how precarious its future is.

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the hundreds of scientists across Canada and around the world (including our citationist, Andrew Weaver), for being so generous with their time and knowledge. Every week, we ask researchers to take the time and make the effort to explain their work—in layman’s terms—to us and our listeners. And as we all know, that is often not easy for scientists. Yet week after week, they come through, some enthusiastically, some warily, some with trepidation, some with confidence, but all with an understanding of how important it is to engage the public and share their learning with the world. And nowhere was that more relevant than in our documentary, “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” which is being honored with the Walter Sullivan Award.

This is the second time AGU has recognized us for a documentary on climate change. And I suppose that is appropriate, as there is no more pressing scientific issue in the world today. As Andrew Weaver said, it is, “without a doubt, the defining issue of our time.” And so, with the continued help of you scientists, we will continue to track this story as it unfolds and try to make sense of it for our listeners. And let us hope that when 2050 finally does arrive, the world will have indeed changed—for the better.

—JIM HANDMAN, Executive producer of Quirks & Quarks program, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jim Lebans, Jim Handman, Bob McDonald, and Zerah Lurie of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio’s Quirks & Quarks program received the Walter Sullivan Award at the Joint Assembly, held 26 May 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Lebans, Handman, McDonald, and Lurie were honored for “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” an eight-part, audio portrait of Canada after 4 decades of expected climate change, depicted through the words of Canadian scientists at the forefront of predicting climate, ecological, and societal transformations.

 

Citation

It is an enormous honor for me to provide this citation for the presentation of the 2009 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism to Jim Handman, Jim Lebans, Zerah Lurie, and Bob McDonald for their radio production “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate.”

Many Canadians, like me, have grown up listening to Canada’s national science radio program —Quirks & Quarks— every Saturday afternoon from 12:06 to 1:00 P.M. on CBC Radio. Since 1975, the CBC team has kept Canadians abreast of the world’s scientific advances, from the smelling abilities of Tyrannosaurus rex, to the mathematical system of the Aztecs, to dead stars millions of light years away. The Quirks & Quarks team translates even the most technical scientific issue into a widely accessible and engrossing story line.

Many Quirks & Quarks programs follow a similar format, with probing and thought-provoking questions being posed to scientists about various new discoveries. In “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” producers Jim Handman, Jim Lebans, Zerah Lurie, and host Bob McDonald serve up something different. Listeners in Canada and around the world via their popular weekly podcast are taken on a journey into the future through the eyes of 11 Canadian climate scientists.

From the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Arctic to the 49th parallel, these scientists paint a picture of a fundamentally different Canadian landscape. The calm, confident, and persuasive manner with which the scientists engage the listener is surreal. And herein lies the power of the production. Rather than take the listener down the predictable path of drama and sensationalism, the producers gently nudge the scientists to explore the boundaries of their knowledge and to translate that into a language accessible to everyone.

Global warming is without a doubt the defining issue of our time. Many in the general public do not realize that even if we immediately stabilized atmospheric greenhouse gases at current levels, the Arctic would likely still go ice free in the summer, between 10% and 25% of the world’s species would likely still be committed to extinction, and weather will continue to become more extreme. We have as much warming in store over the next few decades as has already transpired since preindustrial times when the Thames River in England used to periodically freeze over. It is this so-called and well-understood warming commitment that allowed the scientists to explore with some confidence the 2050 implications of global warming for Canadian society.

Today we are at a critical juncture. The 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in December in Copenhagen to hammer out a post-Kyoto global warming treaty. Global warming is a problem created by our generation that will be solved by our children’s generation so that their children live in a more sustainable world. “Canada 2050” offers a glimpse of the country our grandchildren will inherit; it serves as a catalyst to instill the sense of urgency needed to harness the creativity and ingenuity of today’s youth in developing the technological and behavioral solutions to global warming; and it serves as a wake-up call for a generation of baby boomers accustomed to unsustainable lifestyles.

Like many in the field of climate science, I have been frustrated over the years with aspects of the media portrayal of the causes and consequences of global warming. But throughout the past 3 decades, the CBC Quirks & Quarks team has stuck steadfastly to science in their quest to inform the Canadian public. The producers and host of the show are national treasures, and their “Canada 2050” program represents the very best in science journalism.

—ANDREW J. WEAVER, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Response

First, I would like to thank AGU for honoring us, once again, with this prestigious award. We have been very lucky, over the past 35 years, to have won many awards for science journalism from colleagues across the world. But the Walter Sullivan Award is special: It comes from the scientists themselves. And as a science journalist, there is no greater honor than being recognized by the people we interview and write about every week. It means we got the science right, which really matters to us.

Second, I would like to acknowledge the incredible work done by my team at Quirks & Quarks: researcher Zerah Lurie, our host Bob McDonald, and most of all, veteran producer and writer Jim Lebans. Radio is a collaborative affair: We work together, and it takes a village of journalists, producers, and technicians to raise a documentary. But Jim Lebans stands above the crowd. He’s the guy you want digging in the corners, making the plays, waiting on the edge of the crease (sorry, but hockey analogies come naturally to Canadians). His strong story sense, his imaginative and irreverent writing, his intuitive production skills, and his vast knowledge of science all combine to make him the consummate science journalist he is. AGU’s wonderful recognition of Jim and his work is justly deserved.

Third, I would like to thank CBC Radio, Canada’s national public radio network, for supporting and encouraging our program. Public broadcasting is under attack these days in Canada, with a huge budget deficit, services and programs being chopped, and hundreds of our colleagues being laid off as we speak. But programs like Quirks & Quarks couldn’t exist without a true public broadcasting system. Despite the incredible popularity of our show (we have half a million listeners every week across Canada, and our podcast is one of the top 10 in the country), no commercial network would ever spend the time and resources on a program like ours. Sometimes I fear that Canadians—and especially our politicians—don’t realize what a precious jewel they have in the CBC, and how precarious its future is.

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the hundreds of scientists across Canada and around the world (including our citationist, Andrew Weaver), for being so generous with their time and knowledge. Every week, we ask researchers to take the time and make the effort to explain their work—in layman’s terms—to us and our listeners. And as we all know, that is often not easy for scientists. Yet week after week, they come through, some enthusiastically, some warily, some with trepidation, some with confidence, but all with an understanding of how important it is to engage the public and share their learning with the world. And nowhere was that more relevant than in our documentary, “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” which is being honored with the Walter Sullivan Award.

This is the second time AGU has recognized us for a documentary on climate change. And I suppose that is appropriate, as there is no more pressing scientific issue in the world today. As Andrew Weaver said, it is, “without a doubt, the defining issue of our time.” And so, with the continued help of you scientists, we will continue to track this story as it unfolds and try to make sense of it for our listeners. And let us hope that when 2050 finally does arrive, the world will have indeed changed—for the better.

—JIM HANDMAN, Executive producer of Quirks & Quarks program, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jim Lebans, Jim Handman, Bob McDonald, and Zerah Lurie of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio’s Quirks & Quarks program received the Walter Sullivan Award at the Joint Assembly, held 26 May 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Lebans, Handman, McDonald, and Lurie were honored for “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” an eight-part, audio portrait of Canada after 4 decades of expected climate change, depicted through the words of Canadian scientists at the forefront of predicting climate, ecological, and societal transformations.

 

Citation

It is an enormous honor for me to provide this citation for the presentation of the 2009 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism to Jim Handman, Jim Lebans, Zerah Lurie, and Bob McDonald for their radio production “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate.”

Many Canadians, like me, have grown up listening to Canada’s national science radio program —Quirks & Quarks— every Saturday afternoon from 12:06 to 1:00 P.M. on CBC Radio. Since 1975, the CBC team has kept Canadians abreast of the world’s scientific advances, from the smelling abilities of Tyrannosaurus rex, to the mathematical system of the Aztecs, to dead stars millions of light years away. The Quirks & Quarks team translates even the most technical scientific issue into a widely accessible and engrossing story line.

Many Quirks & Quarks programs follow a similar format, with probing and thought-provoking questions being posed to scientists about various new discoveries. In “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” producers Jim Handman, Jim Lebans, Zerah Lurie, and host Bob McDonald serve up something different. Listeners in Canada and around the world via their popular weekly podcast are taken on a journey into the future through the eyes of 11 Canadian climate scientists.

From the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Arctic to the 49th parallel, these scientists paint a picture of a fundamentally different Canadian landscape. The calm, confident, and persuasive manner with which the scientists engage the listener is surreal. And herein lies the power of the production. Rather than take the listener down the predictable path of drama and sensationalism, the producers gently nudge the scientists to explore the boundaries of their knowledge and to translate that into a language accessible to everyone.

Global warming is without a doubt the defining issue of our time. Many in the general public do not realize that even if we immediately stabilized atmospheric greenhouse gases at current levels, the Arctic would likely still go ice free in the summer, between 10% and 25% of the world’s species would likely still be committed to extinction, and weather will continue to become more extreme. We have as much warming in store over the next few decades as has already transpired since preindustrial times when the Thames River in England used to periodically freeze over. It is this so-called and well-understood warming commitment that allowed the scientists to explore with some confidence the 2050 implications of global warming for Canadian society.

Today we are at a critical juncture. The 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in December in Copenhagen to hammer out a post-Kyoto global warming treaty. Global warming is a problem created by our generation that will be solved by our children’s generation so that their children live in a more sustainable world. “Canada 2050” offers a glimpse of the country our grandchildren will inherit; it serves as a catalyst to instill the sense of urgency needed to harness the creativity and ingenuity of today’s youth in developing the technological and behavioral solutions to global warming; and it serves as a wake-up call for a generation of baby boomers accustomed to unsustainable lifestyles.

Like many in the field of climate science, I have been frustrated over the years with aspects of the media portrayal of the causes and consequences of global warming. But throughout the past 3 decades, the CBC Quirks & Quarks team has stuck steadfastly to science in their quest to inform the Canadian public. The producers and host of the show are national treasures, and their “Canada 2050” program represents the very best in science journalism.

—ANDREW J. WEAVER, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia,

Response

First, I would like to thank AGU for honoring us, once again, with this prestigious award. We have been very lucky, over the past 35 years, to have won many awards for science journalism from colleagues across the world. But the Walter Sullivan Award is special: It comes from the scientists themselves. And as a science journalist, there is no greater honor than being recognized by the people we interview and write about every week. It means we got the science right, which really matters to us.

Second, I would like to acknowledge the incredible work done by my team at Quirks & Quarks: researcher Zerah Lurie, our host Bob McDonald, and most of all, veteran producer and writer Jim Lebans. Radio is a collaborative affair: We work together, and it takes a village of journalists, producers, and technicians to raise a documentary. But Jim Lebans stands above the crowd. He’s the guy you want digging in the corners, making the plays, waiting on the edge of the crease (sorry, but hockey analogies come naturally to Canadians). His strong story sense, his imaginative and irreverent writing, his intuitive production skills, and his vast knowledge of science all combine to make him the consummate science journalist he is. AGU’s wonderful recognition of Jim and his work is justly deserved.

Third, I would like to thank CBC Radio, Canada’s national public radio network, for supporting and encouraging our program. Public broadcasting is under attack these days in Canada, with a huge budget deficit, services and programs being chopped, and hundreds of our colleagues being laid off as we speak. But programs like Quirks & Quarks couldn’t exist without a true public broadcasting system. Despite the incredible popularity of our show (we have half a million listeners every week across Canada, and our podcast is one of the top 10 in the country), no commercial network would ever spend the time and resources on a program like ours. Sometimes I fear that Canadians—and especially our politicians—don’t realize what a precious jewel they have in the CBC, and how precarious its future is.

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the hundreds of scientists across Canada and around the world (including our citationist, Andrew Weaver), for being so generous with their time and knowledge. Every week, we ask researchers to take the time and make the effort to explain their work—in layman’s terms—to us and our listeners. And as we all know, that is often not easy for scientists. Yet week after week, they come through, some enthusiastically, some warily, some with trepidation, some with confidence, but all with an understanding of how important it is to engage the public and share their learning with the world. And nowhere was that more relevant than in our documentary, “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” which is being honored with the Walter Sullivan Award.

This is the second time AGU has recognized us for a documentary on climate change. And I suppose that is appropriate, as there is no more pressing scientific issue in the world today. As Andrew Weaver said, it is, “without a doubt, the defining issue of our time.” And so, with the continued help of you scientists, we will continue to track this story as it unfolds and try to make sense of it for our listeners. And let us hope that when 2050 finally does arrive, the world will have indeed changed—for the better.

—JIM HANDMAN, Executive producer of Quirks & Quarks program, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jim Lebans, Jim Handman, Bob McDonald, and Zerah Lurie of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio’s Quirks & Quarks program received the Walter Sullivan Award at the Joint Assembly, held 26 May 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Lebans, Handman, McDonald, and Lurie were honored for “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” an eight-part, audio portrait of Canada after 4 decades of expected climate change, depicted through the words of Canadian scientists at the forefront of predicting climate, ecological, and societal transformations.

 

Citation

It is an enormous honor for me to provide this citation for the presentation of the 2009 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism to Jim Handman, Jim Lebans, Zerah Lurie, and Bob McDonald for their radio production “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate.”

Many Canadians, like me, have grown up listening to Canada’s national science radio program —Quirks & Quarks— every Saturday afternoon from 12:06 to 1:00 P.M. on CBC Radio. Since 1975, the CBC team has kept Canadians abreast of the world’s scientific advances, from the smelling abilities of Tyrannosaurus rex, to the mathematical system of the Aztecs, to dead stars millions of light years away. The Quirks & Quarks team translates even the most technical scientific issue into a widely accessible and engrossing story line.

Many Quirks & Quarks programs follow a similar format, with probing and thought-provoking questions being posed to scientists about various new discoveries. In “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” producers Jim Handman, Jim Lebans, Zerah Lurie, and host Bob McDonald serve up something different. Listeners in Canada and around the world via their popular weekly podcast are taken on a journey into the future through the eyes of 11 Canadian climate scientists.

From the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Arctic to the 49th parallel, these scientists paint a picture of a fundamentally different Canadian landscape. The calm, confident, and persuasive manner with which the scientists engage the listener is surreal. And herein lies the power of the production. Rather than take the listener down the predictable path of drama and sensationalism, the producers gently nudge the scientists to explore the boundaries of their knowledge and to translate that into a language accessible to everyone.

Global warming is without a doubt the defining issue of our time. Many in the general public do not realize that even if we immediately stabilized atmospheric greenhouse gases at current levels, the Arctic would likely still go ice free in the summer, between 10% and 25% of the world’s species would likely still be committed to extinction, and weather will continue to become more extreme. We have as much warming in store over the next few decades as has already transpired since preindustrial times when the Thames River in England used to periodically freeze over. It is this so-called and well-understood warming commitment that allowed the scientists to explore with some confidence the 2050 implications of global warming for Canadian society.

Today we are at a critical juncture. The 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in December in Copenhagen to hammer out a post-Kyoto global warming treaty. Global warming is a problem created by our generation that will be solved by our children’s generation so that their children live in a more sustainable world. “Canada 2050” offers a glimpse of the country our grandchildren will inherit; it serves as a catalyst to instill the sense of urgency needed to harness the creativity and ingenuity of today’s youth in developing the technological and behavioral solutions to global warming; and it serves as a wake-up call for a generation of baby boomers accustomed to unsustainable lifestyles.

Like many in the field of climate science, I have been frustrated over the years with aspects of the media portrayal of the causes and consequences of global warming. But throughout the past 3 decades, the CBC Quirks & Quarks team has stuck steadfastly to science in their quest to inform the Canadian public. The producers and host of the show are national treasures, and their “Canada 2050” program represents the very best in science journalism.

—ANDREW J. WEAVER, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Response

First, I would like to thank AGU for honoring us, once again, with this prestigious award. We have been very lucky, over the past 35 years, to have won many awards for science journalism from colleagues across the world. But the Walter Sullivan Award is special: It comes from the scientists themselves. And as a science journalist, there is no greater honor than being recognized by the people we interview and write about every week. It means we got the science right, which really matters to us.

Second, I would like to acknowledge the incredible work done by my team at Quirks & Quarks: researcher Zerah Lurie, our host Bob McDonald, and most of all, veteran producer and writer Jim Lebans. Radio is a collaborative affair: We work together, and it takes a village of journalists, producers, and technicians to raise a documentary. But Jim Lebans stands above the crowd. He’s the guy you want digging in the corners, making the plays, waiting on the edge of the crease (sorry, but hockey analogies come naturally to Canadians). His strong story sense, his imaginative and irreverent writing, his intuitive production skills, and his vast knowledge of science all combine to make him the consummate science journalist he is. AGU’s wonderful recognition of Jim and his work is justly deserved.

Third, I would like to thank CBC Radio, Canada’s national public radio network, for supporting and encouraging our program. Public broadcasting is under attack these days in Canada, with a huge budget deficit, services and programs being chopped, and hundreds of our colleagues being laid off as we speak. But programs like Quirks & Quarks couldn’t exist without a true public broadcasting system. Despite the incredible popularity of our show (we have half a million listeners every week across Canada, and our podcast is one of the top 10 in the country), no commercial network would ever spend the time and resources on a program like ours. Sometimes I fear that Canadians—and especially our politicians—don’t realize what a precious jewel they have in the CBC, and how precarious its future is.

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the hundreds of scientists across Canada and around the world (including our citationist, Andrew Weaver), for being so generous with their time and knowledge. Every week, we ask researchers to take the time and make the effort to explain their work—in layman’s terms—to us and our listeners. And as we all know, that is often not easy for scientists. Yet week after week, they come through, some enthusiastically, some warily, some with trepidation, some with confidence, but all with an understanding of how important it is to engage the public and share their learning with the world. And nowhere was that more relevant than in our documentary, “Canada 2050: Our Future in a Changing Climate,” which is being honored with the Walter Sullivan Award.

This is the second time AGU has recognized us for a documentary on climate change. And I suppose that is appropriate, as there is no more pressing scientific issue in the world today. As Andrew Weaver said, it is, “without a doubt, the defining issue of our time.” And so, with the continued help of you scientists, we will continue to track this story as it unfolds and try to make sense of it for our listeners. And let us hope that when 2050 finally does arrive, the world will have indeed changed—for the better.

—JIM HANDMAN, Executive producer of Quirks & Quarks program, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Richard Smith received the Walter Sullivan Award at the 2008 Joint Assembly Honors Ceremony, which was held on 29 May 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Smith was honored for the documentary film “Crude,” which examines oil’s ancient origins and the geology of its formation and explores the potential, unwelcome consequences of oil’s prodigious use by industrial society as a fuel and raw material.

 

Citation

I am delighted in two ways to support the nomination of Richard Smith for the AGU Walter Sullivan Award. First, because I knew the remarkable Walter Sullivan; I relished Walter’s lofty standards as the peerless, peripatetic prince of science journalists and his legendary impatience with compromise. Second, I am delighted because Richard Smith’s work is in the same Sullivan tradition of scientific excellence and the single-minded pursuit of big ideas.

Smith’s documentary Crude is undoubtedly a big idea. Take a molecule of carbon, follow its life story over a couple of billion years, and show how it becomes entwined in living things, buried in fossil graves, liberated into the atmosphere, and, during a brief moment in human history, part of our everyday industrialized living. Do all of this for the time it takes to watch a feature film, well over the span usually allowed for a restless modern audience, and then show how this piece of winged carbon (now augmented with two atoms of oxygen) may change our lives forever. Do this without being didactic, sensationalist, or trivial.

What’s more, as I’ve seen with so many of Richard Smith’s other films, of necessity he’s done most of it on his own. Writing, pieces to camera, filming—up a mountain, under the waves, down a ravine—even reading the voice-over; did he, perhaps, manufacture the digital tape as well? I am reminded of those street musicians who play every instrument in the orchestra and juggle and yodel at the same time! Walter Sullivan, by the way, was a musician.

This kind of versatility has been a necessity in documentary filmmaking in Australia in recent years, for good reasons and bad. Richard Smith has turned it to his advantage. There is a superb unified coherence about Crude that carries you forward with clarity, humor, and even a sense of excitement.

vThis is where fossil fuels come from; this is how they’ve powered our world; this is how they’ll soon run out; and this is what the crunch could be like. These are big questions for our times, handled calmly, accurately, and with every regard for scientific probity and filmic flair.

Richard has dinosaurs flying through the Jurassic skies, cartoon molecules looking as cute as cookies, ancient forests looming as in an epic by Peter (Lord of the Rings) Jackson—science on the screen as a compelling intellectual adventure. Having seen Crude, you confront your future with knowledge, and a new kind of understanding.

This has been a characteristic of Richard Smith’s work over the years. Around the world, especially in Australia, he is regarded by his colleagues as the one who has set the standard for a generation. Be it in marine biology (his own training), astronomy, geological investigations, or health, his has been the example we have hoped to follow, often vainly, in our own science journalism. The Walter Sullivan Award is so significant because it recognizes the need for innovation and new approaches. But it also insists that the traditional measures of excellence be applied as well. Get the science right. Let the ideas flourish. Then go and reach out for your widest possible audience.

As someone who began to tread in Walter’s footsteps nearly 40 years ago, it is my privilege to recommend the work of Richard Smith and, especially, the triumph of Crude.

—ROBYN WILLIAMS, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Response

It is an enormous honor to receive this award from the American Geophysical Union.

The response from friends and family was muted at best when I first proposed making a film about oil. For most people, oil was something they only had an invisible encounter with once a week at the petrol pump. Or so they thought! Saying I was making a film called “crude” sparked a little more interest, but in the end even I was surprised by how engaging the subject was to be.

When I first started drafting the film, in late 2005, concerns about peak oil and climate change were still considered fringe issues by many in Australia—if given much thought at all. Not so now. The endless upward climb of fuel costs and an extreme, and seemingly endless, drought in Australia have seen to that. Food prices are up, lifestyles are questioned, and the building clouds are no longer on the distant horizon. The deep links we Earthlings have forged with the prehistoric bounty hidden in the bowels of the planet are no longer out of sight and mind.

The global economic, environmental, and political challenges ahead are immense. But still not as obvious to many is the way the 6.5 billion of us alive today have collectively become a major player in both the biological and geological workings of the planet. This is why I believe there has never been a stronger need for communicating science to the world at large. That’s what makes it so personally satisfying to receive the Walter Sullivan Award: Coming from AGU, it makes me feel that I have made a small—and validated—contribution to finding our way ahead.

It also helps to reinforce the value of a public broadcaster like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, for whom I work—and the ABC itself needs some reminding. The legacy of Crude is that it has become the last science film to be made from within the corporation where the need for specialist documentary output is seen as a luxury we can no longer afford.

At the ABC, science documentaries have never been an expensive indulgence. Frugal funding has been a powerful selector for small, efficient teams well tuned to making films on oil on the smell of an oily rag. In particular, I’d like to thank my terrific film editor Lile Judickas for helping wrestle sound and picture together, executive producer Sonya Pemberton for fighting for the film’s existence, and Maria Ceballos for making sure I got everywhere and talked to the right people—on time and on budget.

As past recipients of this award have already remarked, I can claim only partial credit for the work for which I am being honored. Crude would not have seen the light of day if not for the curiosity of mind and generosity of spirit of the scientists involved in exploring the great story of our marvelous planet. Some we featured in the film, and others we consulted, yet more helped to build the vast body of evidence over the generations.

Thank you all for opening up yet more illuminating chapters and allowing me to share them with a broader audience. Thank you for the award. May you all live long and prosper!

—RICHARD SMITH, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Citation

It is my pleasure to nominate Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling of the Los Angeles Times, and their five-part series “Altered Oceans,” for the AGU Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism—Features.

The series was the brainchild of Weiss, who has covered the coast and ocean beat for several years and was surprised, time and time again, by marine scientists describing a litany of disturbing news: Species they had long studied were vanishing; huge swaths of the ocean were so deprived of oxygen they were described as “dead zones” and animals and fish of all sorts were dying and washing ashore in large numbers. McFarling, meanwhile, who has reported on climate change for several years, was disturbed by reports that the oceans were absorbing so much carbon dioxide—a million tons an hour—they were literally becoming acidic.

In an 18-month reporting journey that stretched from Australia to the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and deep into the Pacific, Weiss followed a common thread that unified seemingly unrelated casualties: brain-damaged marine mammals washing ashore along the California coast; Florida residents sickened by wind-borne toxins from red algae; and Native American children undergoing tests for cognitive deficiencies after eating shellfish. McFarling found that the pH changes that are an inevitable result of the burning of fossil fuels will soon lead to the demise of some sea animals, particularly many crucial species at the base of the food chain.

The sobering conclusion they reached was this: Wholesale ecological changes caused by humans are leaving the oceans increasingly dominated by primitive life forms—algae, bacteria, and jellyfish—and denuded of the fish, corals, kelp, and mammals necessary for a healthy balance. The seas are being plundered of their biological diversity, fertilized with basic nutrients from sewage and fertilizer runoff, and overdosed with carbon dioxide and various contaminants, the spent leavings of an industrialized society.

Reaction to the series was broad and impassioned. During a congressional hearing on national ocean policy held days after the series appeared, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) read aloud a passage describing the effects of toxic algae blooms on human health and asked a panel of federal officials why they were not doing more about it. The leaders of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus distributed copies to every member of the House, with a cover letter that said, “We recommend that you take a moment to review this series. The conditions it describes are a threat to our national security, economy, and environment, and we need to act…before the damage is irreparable.”

“Altered Oceans” went below the surface to illuminate an urgent problem brought on by anthropogenic changes. Without pointing figures, it rendered a judgment obvious to the hundreds of readers who wrote letters and Web mail in response. “I have met the enemy and know its face,” wrote one reader. “I cannot tell a lie. It’s me, my family, my friends, my relatives, and everyone I know.”

—FRANK CLIFFORD, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif.

Response

It is a great honor to receive this award from the American Geophysical Union.

In our series, we examined the slow degradation of the seas by overfishing, coastal development, and nonpoint source pollution. These issues, with no dramatic single event to capture attention, can be difficult to convey to the general public. We were supported by a team of editors at the Los Angeles Times who gave us the time and the budget to report the topic thoroughly and find ways to tell it that would grab the attention of readers. Based on the millions of people who read the series, and the responses of those who wrote letters and emails and posted comments, the approach seems to have struck a deep nerve.

We would like to thank the more than 100 scientists we interviewed and who acted as expert guides underwater and on shore while reporting this series. We extend an extra appreciation to the many scientists who generously gave us their time and insights, even though their names did not appear in the articles. These unnamed contributors added immeasurably to the articles’ depth and breath.

The series would not have been possible without the sage counsel of its principal editor, Frank Clifford, who has covered environmental issues for the Times for more than a decade. Assistant Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin improved the writing immensely. We’d like to thank Dean Baquet, the former editor of the Los Angeles Times, for supporting the project and the time it took to do it right. And we’d like to put in a plea that cost-cutting at newspapers does not run so deep that work like ours is no longer supported. If newspapers do not bring these stories to the attention of the general public, who will?

—KENNETH R. WEISS and USHA LEE MCFARLING, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif.

Citation

It is my pleasure to nominate Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling of the Los Angeles Times, and their five-part series “Altered Oceans,” for the AGU Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism—Features.

The series was the brainchild of Weiss, who has covered the coast and ocean beat for several years and was surprised, time and time again, by marine scientists describing a litany of disturbing news: Species they had long studied were vanishing; huge swaths of the ocean were so deprived of oxygen they were described as “dead zones” and animals and fish of all sorts were dying and washing ashore in large numbers. McFarling, meanwhile, who has reported on climate change for several years, was disturbed by reports that the oceans were absorbing so much carbon dioxide—a million tons an hour—they were literally becoming acidic.

In an 18-month reporting journey that stretched from Australia to the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and deep into the Pacific, Weiss followed a common thread that unified seemingly unrelated casualties: brain-damaged marine mammals washing ashore along the California coast; Florida residents sickened by wind-borne toxins from red algae; and Native American children undergoing tests for cognitive deficiencies after eating shellfish. McFarling found that the pH changes that are an inevitable result of the burning of fossil fuels will soon lead to the demise of some sea animals, particularly many crucial species at the base of the food chain.

The sobering conclusion they reached was this: Wholesale ecological changes caused by humans are leaving the oceans increasingly dominated by primitive life forms—algae, bacteria, and jellyfish—and denuded of the fish, corals, kelp, and mammals necessary for a healthy balance. The seas are being plundered of their biological diversity, fertilized with basic nutrients from sewage and fertilizer runoff, and overdosed with carbon dioxide and various contaminants, the spent leavings of an industrialized society.

Reaction to the series was broad and impassioned. During a congressional hearing on national ocean policy held days after the series appeared, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) read aloud a passage describing the effects of toxic algae blooms on human health and asked a panel of federal officials why they were not doing more about it. The leaders of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus distributed copies to every member of the House, with a cover letter that said, “We recommend that you take a moment to review this series. The conditions it describes are a threat to our national security, economy, and environment, and we need to act…before the damage is irreparable.”

“Altered Oceans” went below the surface to illuminate an urgent problem brought on by anthropogenic changes. Without pointing figures, it rendered a judgment obvious to the hundreds of readers who wrote letters and Web mail in response. “I have met the enemy and know its face,” wrote one reader. “I cannot tell a lie. It’s me, my family, my friends, my relatives, and everyone I know.”

—FRANK CLIFFORD, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif.

Response

It is a great honor to receive this award from the American Geophysical Union.

In our series, we examined the slow degradation of the seas by overfishing, coastal development, and nonpoint source pollution. These issues, with no dramatic single event to capture attention, can be difficult to convey to the general public. We were supported by a team of editors at the Los Angeles Times who gave us the time and the budget to report the topic thoroughly and find ways to tell it that would grab the attention of readers. Based on the millions of people who read the series, and the responses of those who wrote letters and emails and posted comments, the approach seems to have struck a deep nerve.

We would like to thank the more than 100 scientists we interviewed and who acted as expert guides underwater and on shore while reporting this series. We extend an extra appreciation to the many scientists who generously gave us their time and insights, even though their names did not appear in the articles. These unnamed contributors added immeasurably to the articles’ depth and breath.

The series would not have been possible without the sage counsel of its principal editor, Frank Clifford, who has covered environmental issues for the Times for more than a decade. Assistant Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin improved the writing immensely. We’d like to thank Dean Baquet, the former editor of the Los Angeles Times, for supporting the project and the time it took to do it right. And we’d like to put in a plea that cost-cutting at newspapers does not run so deep that work like ours is no longer supported. If newspapers do not bring these stories to the attention of the general public, who will?

—KENNETH R. WEISS and USHA LEE MCFARLING, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif.

Michelle Nijhuis received the Walter Sullivan Award at the Joint Assembly Honors Ceremony, which was held on 25 May 2006 in Baltimore, Md. Nijhuis was honored for “Hot Times: Global Warming in the West,” which combines science, policy, and human interest in telling the story of global warming from a regional perspective.

 

Citation

For the past decade, as it has become increasingly apparent that human-caused climate change is the biggest environmental challenge the world has ever faced, the editors of Colorado’s High Country News, like many in the media business, have struggled with a basic question: How can journalists take a mind-numbing jumble of immense databases, complex scientific models, and very little political action and turn it into a meaningful and compelling narrative?

This is the task we gave two years ago to our contributing editor, Michelle Nijhuis, who possesses both the mind of a scientist and the heart of a poet. After a few months of reading and talking with scientists and activists, Michelle came back with the conviction that the American West-because of its incredible topography and aridity-is one of the best places in the world to actually see climate change in action. Her proposed series, which we dubbed “Hot Times,” would focus on the scientists who are drawing together the evidence for the most radical climate shift humanity has experienced in more than 1000 years, if not longer.

Her first article, “Written in the Rings,” investigates a science that was, as she writes, “birthed and raised in the Interior West.”

The study of tree rings began as an Arizona astronomer’s hobby, but it now plays a central role in the global debate over human-caused climate change. Tree ring patterns show, with disturbing certainty, that the Northern Hemisphere has warmed dramatically over the past several decades, a change likely without precedent in the past millennium. They also show that the West’s most recent drought, though extreme, is just the latest in a long series of deep and frequent regional droughts.

Her second story addresses a pressing question for many in the West: “What Happened to Winter?” The winter of 2004-2005 was so dry in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies that governors declared a state of emergency, fearing a summer of massive drought and fires. Many wondered, and worried, if the weird weather was caused by global climate change. Though Michelle’s article made it clear that no one weather event can be blamed on global warming, she explained that last winter may well be a harbinger of the future.

Her third story, “The Ghosts of Yosemite,” looks at the effect of global warming on one of the iconic landscapes of the West: Yosemite National Park. Michelle followed a crew of modern biologists as they retraced the steps of renowned researcher Joseph Grinnell, who surveyed the wildlife of the park in the early 1900s. The modern scientists found that many small mammals had shifted their ranges uphill, a change they say can only be explained by global warming. The shifts in Yosemite’s wildlife mirror changes already under way throughout the world.

Michelle’s stories have provided our readership with a broad scientific understanding of global climate change, based on tangible evidence all of us can understand. We salute Michelle for her dedication to accurate and compelling reporting, for her gift of storytelling, and for her love of the great American West.

—PAUL LARMER, High Country News, Paonia, Colo.

Response

This is a great honor, and I am especially proud to accept it on behalf of High Country News.

In 1970, when a Wyoming rancher named Tom Bell got tired of watching his beloved state torn up by irresponsible logging and coal mining, he founded an independent newspaper. He and his all-but-volunteer staff, sustained by a handful of subscribers, set to work untangling the controversies over land and water in the Rocky Mountain West. At a time when most major newspapers ignored the region, High Country News delved into the details of dams and wilderness, energy development, and wildlife conservation. More than three decades later, those issues are still with us, and High Country News is still a scrappy, low-budget operation.

But we like to think we have grown into something of a public square for the western states, a place where the region’s future gets pondered, scrutinized, and argued over. So we feel it is essential for High Country News to take a close look at climate change, and consider its significance for the region. In doing so, I hope we are clarifying this enormous issue for our readers and continuing the tradition of independent inquiry that Tom Bell began more than a generation ago.

I am especially grateful to High Country News publisher Paul Larmer and editor Greg Hanscom, who made sure I had the time and support I needed to report and write the stories in our “Hot Times” series. Their commitment to the project was invaluable, and their unfailing good humor was always appreciated. The rest of the hardworking High Country News staff supplied wise guidance and assistance and got these stories out the door and into the world. Former publisher Ed Marston and former editor Betsy Marston helped make the paper what it is today, and taught me a lot of what I know about journalism. And my husband, Jack, not only built the office where I work, but also helped me puzzle through the reams of information I filled it with.

I met dozens of scientists in the course of writing these stories, many of them AGU members. All were remarkably generous with their time, and patient with my endless questions. Their enthusiasm for sharing their findings with the general public was crucial to this series. In particular, I would like to thank Jesse Logan of the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Logan, Utah; Tom Swetnam of the University of Arizona; Julio Betancourt of the Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona; Kelly Redmond of the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nevada; and Jim Patton of the University of California at Berkeley; who went above and beyond in their efforts to introduce me to their work. Connie Millar, Lisa Graumlich, Henry Diaz, and the other organizers of the CIRMOUNT [Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains] group also provided a slew of wonderful ideas and resources.

Finally, I would like to thank all of you for what you do. Your work helps us understand our world and the astounding and disturbing ways in which it is changing. It is a privilege to learn about your discoveries and to share them with others.

—MICHELLE NIJHUIS, High Country News, Paonia, Colo.

Tim Appenzeller received the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism at the Joint Assembly Honors Ceremony, which was held on 25 May 2005, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The award honors “a single article or radio/television report that makes geophysical material accessible and interesting to the general public.”

 

Citation

When National Geographic began plans to address the issue of global climate change, we asked Tim Appenzeller to write the keystone piece for a series of articles that would document the most recent scientific consensus. His description of the carbon cycle in “The Case of the Missing Carbon” would be a fundamental part of the entire package. To explain that complex, finely calibrated global mechanism to six million readers was the task we set before him.

A daunting task perhaps, but not for Tim Appenzeller, a science journalist with great talent for precise thinking and elegant writing. “The Case of the Missing Carbon” lays it all out, tracing the circulation of carbon between air, land, and water that sustains life on Earth and controls its climate.

But that was only part of the story Appenzeller needed to tell. Humans have disrupted the cycle, releasing carbon prematurely from its natural reservoirs. For centuries we’ve been clearing forests and burning coal, oil, and gas, pouring carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere faster than plants and oceans can soak them up. The atmosphere’s carbon dioxide level is higher now than it’s been for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s as if we’re piling extra blankets on the planet, Appenzeller says, and, as a result, global temperatures are shooting up faster than at any other time in the past thousand years. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, seasons are changing.

For now, as Appenzeller points out, oceans and forests provide the sinks that absorb roughly half of the eight billion metric tons of carbon that humanity pours into the atmosphere each year. But what happens if nature withdraws its helping hand? Scientists are seeking schemes to pump more carbon back into ocean depths, to grow more forests to absorb it, to send the carbon that humans have tapped from the Earth back where it came from-into coal seams, old oil and gas fields, or deep, porous rock formations.

But no one knows how well such schemes might work, and, as Appenzeller says, there’s no time to dither. There’s little doubt that unless societies lessen their dependence on fossil fuels, the carbon cycle will fly further out of balance. If our carbon sinks hold out or even grow, we might have extra decades in which to wean the global economy from carbon-emitting energy sources. If not, we face the likelihood of drastic climate changes even before 2050, a disaster too close to avoid.

We at National Geographic congratulate Tim Appenzeller on his receipt of the Walter Sullivan Award, richly deserved for his work on a story of immense importance to all of us who inhabit this planet. We also honor him as our new senior editor for science, and look forward to the years ahead, as he enriches our magazine and the millions who read it every month.

—LYNN ADDISON, National Geographic, Washington, D.C.

Response

This is a great honor, and it has a special meaning for me because of how I got into science writing in the first place. Twenty-odd years ago I was working at an outfit called Time-Life Books, now long gone (though some of you may have the old book series weighting down your shelves). I started out on a book series called Home Repair, and then my bosses moved me to one called Planet Earth, where I wrote about the atmosphere, plate tectonics, and minerals. I was hooked. I hadn’t really known what I wanted to do, and I then realized that science writing was a way to learn all kinds of fascinating things and share them with readers. So for me, the Walter Sullivan Award is a special pleasure because it comes from Earth scientists. You’re the ones who got me into this business.

I have a lot of other people to thank, starting with Dennis Dimick, the head of illustrations at National Geographic, who realized that if any magazine could persuade readers that human influence on climate is a reality-and not just a noisy debate in Washington -ours could. He dreamed up the idea of a series of articles that would document how climate is changing and why, with this story on the carbon cycle to lay the groundwork. My editor, Lynn Addison, had the confidence to give me the assignment and the wisdom not to panic when I complained, at various points, that there was no way I could find a narrative thread in the carbon cycle and that there just wasn’t enough to say for a 5000-word article. She just told me it would turn out fine, which it did, with her help.

One of the greatest delights of reporting about Earth science is the generosity of most scientists. I mean generosity with the time it takes to explain something complex to an ignorant reporter, but also generosity in telling what you know. I live and work in Washington, and my political reporter friends spend lots of time and energy pursuing people who won’t talk or, when they do, don’t tell the truth. Sure, there’s spin in science too, and science writers need to be alert for it. But scientists are ultimately in the business of pursuing the truth, and telling other people what they find.

So I’ve had the good luck to end up in an area of journalism where the sources are willing, even eager, to share. And what they have to share is just so interesting. So as I thank the American Geophysical Union for this award, I want to thank you as a community for all that sharing with me and my fellow journalists.

—TIM APPENZELLER, National Geographic, Washington, D.C.

Kevin Krajick received the Sullivan Award at the Joint Assembly Honors Ceremony, which was held 19 May 2004, in Montreal, Canada. The award honors “a single article or radio/television report that makes geophysical material accessible and interesting to the general public.”

 

Citation

“A certain kind of truly memorable science story is also a chronicle of heroism. Such is the case with Kevin Krajick’s ‘Defusing Africa’s Killer Lakes,’ for which this year’s Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science was given. When Krajick traveled to a remote corner of northwest Cameroon’s volcanic lake district, he journeyed in the company of scientists who had tirelessly endeavored to elucidate the causes of a mysterious and deadly natural disaster—and to prevent its recurrence.

“On 21 August 1986, some 1800 villagers near the shores of Lake Nyos died in a mysterious mass asphyxiation. On 15 August 1984, a strangely similar incident, albeit on a smaller scale, had taken place at another crater lake, Monoun, about 60 miles south of Nyos.

“As word of the Nyos disaster spread among the world, an international team of scientists, including a Cameroonian hydrologist, a Japanese geochemist, French volcanologists, German, Italian, Swiss and British scientists, and U.S. pathologists, geologists, limnologists, and chemists, all congregated at the lake.

“Within the ensuing weeks and months, scientists concluded that built-up carbon dioxide gas from deep within the lake had exploded, releasing a deadly cloud. Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, called for ‘scientific assistance to help us set up a mechanism that can warn people when such a disaster is about to happen.’

“Sixteen years later, Krajick accompanied the scientists who have returned repeatedly to Cameroon, determined to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy. They have risked their lives to do so, venturing out onto a highly unstable lake that could erupt again at any time.

“Their solution, ingenious and, by necessity, low-tech, has succeeded in venting deadly gas from the lake beds at Nyos and Monoun.

“Krajick’s eloquent explication of scientific phenomena underlying these tragedies-and the life stories of villagers forever changed by the disasters—is equalized in intensity by his portrayal of the scientists who conversed to protect people from sorrow and loss. At once an inspired piece of scientific explication and a recounting of an unfolding human drama, his story creates an unforgettable portrait of scientists committed to vanquishing suffering in a remote, but not forgotten, corner of equatorial Africa.”

—KATHLEEN BURKE, Smithsonian Magazine, Washington, D.C.

Response

“This is a great honor, and I have many people to thank, including the editors of Smithsonian Magazine, where this piece appeared. This is in fact the fourth time a freelancer for Smithsonian has gotten the Walter Sullivan Award; past winners were fellow writers Michael Parfit, Jon Krakauer, and Richard Stone. No other organization has even won it twice, so somebody at Smithsonian is doing something right when it comes to assigning and editing Earth science stories. Particular credit is due my long-time editor Kathleen Burke. The magazine’s relatively new top editor, Carey Winfrey, and executive editor Terry Monmaney have carried on the tradition. They sent the great South African photographer Louise Gubb to go everywhere in the field with me; Louise’s peculiarly beautiful photographs of landscapes and people really made this tale come alive.

“This story was a scary one; but it was also hopeful. In Cameroon, I met some heroic scientists: Bill Evans, George Kling, Greg Tanyileke, Issa Ibrahim, Minoru Kusakabe. You can tell by their names they’re not all Africans; they’re from all over the world. They came together not to do abstract research, but to save lives—a great example of the immediate good that Earth scientists can do. These lakes are still dangerous—they could blow up again any time—so these people have courage.

“The greatest courage comes from Cameroonian, both scientists and people who survive around the lakes. Cameroonians Ph.D.s often work without money for microscopes, beakers, telephones, or Internet. Yet they get the job done. Less educated people face even longer odds. At Lake Nyos, where nearly everyone was killed by a gas eruption in 1986, I met a couple of local cattle herders, whom everyone called Mami and Papa Niyaku. They survived the gas, but their four young children were all asphyxiated. Anyone who is a parent can imagine what they have suffered. Yet Mami and Papa Niyaku chose life; 18 years later, they have four more children, all born since then. As Muslims, they told me they put their faith in God; but they were happy to see scientists helping out. And thanks to research, we now know that for just a million dollars or so, we could install some very simple technology that would make these areas safe. But it’s like so much else in the Third World; there’s no money, so the installation is incomplete and the threat remains. That would never happen in Canada or the United States. So I’d like to ask First World scientists: Let’s think about how we can channel more science resources to our brothers and sisters in poor countries. They don’t usually need fancy theories or huge budgets, just modest help with some very basic problems. Scientists can do that; with so very little, we can do so much good.”

—KEVIN KRAJICK, New York, N.Y.

Patric Senson and James Handman received the Sullivan Award at AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on 10 December 2003, in San Francisco, California. The award honors “a single article or radio/television report that makes geophysical material accessible and interesting to the general public.”

 

Citation

“Jim Handman is one of the best kept secrets at CBC Radio. For more than 20 years he has been a bastion of integrity and an endless source of wit, and has consistently produced award-winning programs in radio news and current affairs.

“Jim is currently the senior producer of Quirks & Quarks, our national science radio program, now in its 27th season, but this role is only one of many over the course of his extensive broadcasting career.

“I first met Jim in the 1980s when he was a producer and I was a regular guest on our national flagship show, Morningside. He demonstrated again and again, a keen journalistic instinct and maintained the high standard of broadcast quality CBC is known for.

“The best demonstration of Jim’s strong leadership skills and ability to perform under pressure came during times of crisis. As September 11th and the Iraq War unfolded, Jim assumed his former role as news director to coordinate our 24-hour coverage. In the chaotic days after the World Trade Center disaster, Jim was the focal point in the control room, making firm, on the spot decisions about exactly what went on the air. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Jim held daily strategy meetings where he stood at the center of a large circle of dozens of producers, delegating responsibilities and laying out a clear plan for the day’s programming.

“Jim came to Quirks & Quarks with a news background. In order to meet the unique challenges of science reporting, he enrolled in a science course for journalists at M.I.T. Jim now teaches science journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, and has made a commitment to bringing student interns into the CBC for firsthand production experience. Many of these interns have found permanent jobs.

“Considering the large number of people who have been influenced by Jim, both outside and inside the CBC, he is most worthy of this award.

“I don’t actually recall my first encounter with Pat Senson, but Pat certainly does. He was among a group of students who surrounded me following a presentation at the University of Guelph. He asked a question I often hear: ‘How do I get into the business?’

“I gave him my usual answer: ‘Either go to journalism school or come up with a good idea and approach a producer or an editor with it. In other words, just do it.’ Little did I know that he would ‘just do it.’ He did more than impress the producer; when asked why he wanted to work on our show, he replied, ‘Because working on Quirks & Quarks is all I’ve ever wanted to do!’

“Well, it worked, and we are all better for it.

“Pat is the only person with actual scientific experience on our science show and has produced items on every conceivable topic, although for some reason lately many of them focus on the strange mating habits in the animal and insect worlds. Pat’s most valuable contribution to the show is his passion for the role of science in society.

“Good science, good entertainment, that’s the business we are in, and as this award demonstrates, these two people do it better that just about anybody.”

—BOB MCDONALD, Host, Quirks & Quarks

Response

“I would like to say, first of all, how deeply honored I am to share in the acceptance of this prestigious award, along with my colleague Pat Senson. As the senior producer of the world’s longest running radio science program, it is particularly gratifying to be recognized by a group of such prominent scientists. It means we got the science right.

“And in the case of the documentary for which we are being honored by the AGU, that’s particularly important. Our radio documentary dealt with the science of climate change. Not the politics. Not the rhetoric. Not the polemics. Just the science. We actually produced 20 minutes of radio journalism without mentioning the Kyoto Accord.

“And that’s not so easy for most journalists. You see, most journalists are used to reporting on politics, where every opinion is equal. I might say some policy or politician is good, you say they’re bad. There is no real answer, and both opinions are valid. But in science, it doesn’t work that way. Using the scientific method, researchers test their theories again and again, and collect more data, and do more studies, and over time, a consensus develops. That’s the situation with climate change. But the general reporter is used to getting one quote from each side. So the 30,000 scientists on one side of the controversy get one quote, and the 30 scientists on the other side get equal time. That just leaves the public thinking that the scientific community is evenly divided on the issues-which it isn’t. And that creates a sense of confusion and alienation among the listeners, viewers, and readers.

“We tried to correct that imbalance in our documentary. And if we helped just one listener understand the complexity of the issue, then we succeeded.

“Our motto is, ‘we’re the only program that promises you the universe, and delivers. And you don’t need a Ph.D. to enjoy it.’ We try to have fun in presenting our scientific stories (in other words, we take the gravity out of a discussion of gravity); and it’s not always easy. But it is challenging, and always rewarding. Especially when our efforts are recognized by the very people whose work we struggle to convey to our listeners.

“Thank you once again for this great honor.”

—JAMES HANDMAN, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Patric Senson and James Handman received the Sullivan Award at AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on 10 December 2003, in San Francisco, California. The award honors “a single article or radio/television report that makes geophysical material accessible and interesting to the general public.”

 

Citation

“Jim Handman is one of the best kept secrets at CBC Radio. For more than 20 years he has been a bastion of integrity and an endless source of wit, and has consistently produced award-winning programs in radio news and current affairs.

“Jim is currently the senior producer of Quirks & Quarks, our national science radio program, now in its 27th season, but this role is only one of many over the course of his extensive broadcasting career.

“I first met Jim in the 1980s when he was a producer and I was a regular guest on our national flagship show, Morningside. He demonstrated again and again, a keen journalistic instinct and maintained the high standard of broadcast quality CBC is known for.

“The best demonstration of Jim’s strong leadership skills and ability to perform under pressure came during times of crisis. As September 11th and the Iraq War unfolded, Jim assumed his former role as news director to coordinate our 24-hour coverage. In the chaotic days after the World Trade Center disaster, Jim was the focal point in the control room, making firm, on the spot decisions about exactly what went on the air. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Jim held daily strategy meetings where he stood at the center of a large circle of dozens of producers, delegating responsibilities and laying out a clear plan for the day’s programming.

“Jim came to Quirks & Quarks with a news background. In order to meet the unique challenges of science reporting, he enrolled in a science course for journalists at M.I.T. Jim now teaches science journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, and has made a commitment to bringing student interns into the CBC for firsthand production experience. Many of these interns have found permanent jobs.

“Considering the large number of people who have been influenced by Jim, both outside and inside the CBC, he is most worthy of this award.

“I don’t actually recall my first encounter with Pat Senson, but Pat certainly does. He was among a group of students who surrounded me following a presentation at the University of Guelph. He asked a question I often hear: ‘How do I get into the business?’

“I gave him my usual answer: ‘Either go to journalism school or come up with a good idea and approach a producer or an editor with it. In other words, just do it.’ Little did I know that he would ‘just do it.’ He did more than impress the producer; when asked why he wanted to work on our show, he replied, ‘Because working on Quirks & Quarks is all I’ve ever wanted to do!’

“Well, it worked, and we are all better for it.

“Pat is the only person with actual scientific experience on our science show and has produced items on every conceivable topic, although for some reason lately many of them focus on the strange mating habits in the animal and insect worlds. Pat’s most valuable contribution to the show is his passion for the role of science in society.

“Good science, good entertainment, that’s the business we are in, and as this award demonstrates, these two people do it better that just about anybody.”

—BOB MCDONALD, Host, Quirks & Quarks

Response

“First of all, thank you to AGU for giving Jim Handman and me this prestigious award. An award given to journalists by scientists has extra value; it shows us we’re getting the science right, which, in this business, is a key component of our job.

“I’d also like to thank the other two members of the Quirks & Quarks team who aren’t recognized by this award. They are Jim Lebans, the show’s other producer, and Bob McDonald, the show’s host. Quirks & Quarks really is a team, and without their input, Jim and I wouldn’t be here tonight.

“Science journalism, and especially environmental reporting, is a special kind of journalism. The issues we’re dealing with are especially complex and often subtle, and it takes cooperation between scientists and journalists to communicate that effectively. Since I have the opportunity to talk directly to a group of scientists, I’d like to take it to remind you all of that. When journalists come to talk to you about a story, I challenge you to take time to work with them, and make sure they’ve got an accurate picture of your work. While you spend a career on a subject, a journalist often jumps from topic to topic during a day, and isn’t the expert you are. So if you want to see good quality journalism, then don’t treat the journalist as the enemy.

“I’d also like to encourage you to support public broadcasting. We in public radio are in the unique position of being able to take the time to tell good stories, without advertisers breathing down our necks. Public broadcasting is what allows the public to learn about the complex issues of subjects like climate change, and no one’s driving our agenda from behind the scenes. You can’t say that of those who get their money from car manufacturers or oil companies.

“We can even criticize our own colleagues in public broadcasting. This documentary began as a response to a national commentator who said of climate change, ‘the science isn’t there yet.’ Well, we set out to find out what science was there, and with the help of some researchers along the way we demonstrated just how solid the answers are.

“So thank you, for supporting science journalists who come to your door asking the pesky questions about your work, and for supporting the idea of public broadcasters, unencumbered by sponsors’ wishes and needs. I’m greatly honored to accept this award.”

—PATRIC SENSON, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Diane Casto Tennant was awarded the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – Features at the AGU Spring Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on 29 May 2002, in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes reporting generally produced with deadlines of longer than one week.

 

Citation

“Before I started working with Diane Tennant, I would spot her across the newsroom and here’s what I saw: a tiny woman, not too tall and very skinny, wrapped in a shawl that she obviously ripped off from someone’s grandmother. She looked as though a stiff wind could knock her off her feet.

“First impressions can be so wrong.

“Underneath that shawl was our newsroom’s greatest radical. A woman who once wrote a story in a single sentence, who penned a Christmas card for our front page, who told an old couple’s love story through a timeline of history.

“Diane Tennant also is one of the most graceful and powerful writers on the planet. Really, she’s a giant. A fearless giant.

“Most reporters wouldn’t have attempted to tell the story of a stray meteor and the unseen crater it created and the ramifications of an event that happened 35 million years ago. It’s old news, after all. No one died. No pictures.

“But Diane saw possibilities, and then she found a story. A story about a scientist who waves his arms a lot and stays up late contemplating why things just don’t add up and how because of his perseverance, things did. She found a story about determination and how it can pay off. A story that’s universal, or should I say cosmic. She found that story because that’s what she does. She’s a feature writer who lately has been intrigued by the idea of writing about science. And she couldn’t imagine a more fascinating tale than a meteor hurtling through space, smashing into the Earth, and wreaking havoc then and now. One of Diane’s colleagues asked her, when she was first beginning her research, why anybody, any average, Budweiser-drinking Joe Blow, would be interested in such a long-ago event. She pondered the question and came back with an answer the next day: ‘Groundwater,’ she said.

“Diane took it as a challenge not only to tell the story of David Powars and his work for the U.S. Geological Society, but also to teach our readers about what was quite literally under their feet. She was determined to make them understand the lingering effects of the meteor and how it had reshaped the Chesapeake Bay. She was determined to make them care, even about a topic as dry as groundwater.

“She succeeded, I believe, by illustrating science in ways that were easy to grasp and by writing in typical fashion—with clarity, with style, and with authority.

“‘The sea, steaming and barren, flowed back over the crater,’ Diane wrote in describing the after-effect of the meteor’s impact. ‘Earthquakes rumbled under water as house-sized rocks slumped down the crater’s sides. The ripples faded, and there was no one to remember that the impact had happened at all. No one would ever know. Not until 35 million years had passed, and David Powars dug a hole.’

“I thank the AGU for recognizing Diane. It’s an affirmation of the kind of work that she is so admired for by her colleagues and her boss.

“By the way, she doesn’t wear the shawl anymore.”

—MARIA CARILLO, Narrative Editor, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.

Response

“Perception, really, is everything.

“I perceive myself as petite and slender, with a bohemian flair in fashion. And I wore the shawl on Easter Sunday.

“But where Maria and I agree is on the perception that a giant, Earth-bound meteor, a fiery tidal wave of destruction and an excitable scientist would make for a great story.

“The U.S. Geological Survey could not have been kinder or its personnel more helpful. David Powars, Greg Gohn, Jean Self-Trail, Lucy Edwards, the drilling crew—not once did they become impatient with my questions, my peering over their shoulders, my persistence in just showing up at the drill site day after day.

“Scott Bruce from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Scott Emry from the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Gerald Johnson from the College of William and Mary, Joel Levine from NASA Langley—all were patient, kind, and generous in sharing their expertise. I thank them and the many other USGS folks who helped me understand the incredible impact of 35 million years ago and the effects that still linger today.

“My thanks to the American Geophysical Union for selecting my story for this award.

It is quite an honor to be in the company of John McPhee, Jon Krakauer, and the other previous winners.

“And to my editors at The Virginian-Pilot, thanks for trusting me enough to give me several months to research and seven days of newsprint to tell the story of the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater.

“The trick, I learned, was to tell them I was writing eight stories. When the series came in at only seven, it looked a lot shorter to them.

“Perception, as I said before, is everything.”

—DIANE CASTO TENNANT, The Virginian-Pilot

Richard Stone received the Walter Sullivan Award at the 2001 Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony on 12 December in San Francisco, California. The award is given for a single article or radio/television report that makes geophysical material accessible and interesting to the general public.

 

Citation

“Richard Stone has won the 2001 Walter Sullivan Award for a story on a lake no one has ever seen and its implications for finding life elsewhere in the solar system. Richard’s winning the award this year completes the hat trick for us at Smithsonian: Michael Parfit won in 1996 for a story on how Lake Missoula scoured Washington State, and Jon Krakauer won the next year for a piece on the little-appreciated dangers of Mount Rainier. The story that won this year was Richard’s first appearance in Smithsonian.

“He is the European editor for Science. A self-described ‘extremophile,’ he saw his book on mammoths come out this year, representing time he spent in Siberia. The story for which he has won this award represents time in Antarctica as the first Western journalist to visit Vostok, a Russian station there.

“The scientific outpost is a model for doing science the hard way. Some buildings, buried in snowdrifts, have been abandoned. Triple doors at the entrances, meant to conserve heat, do not fit their frames. The labs double as sleeping quarters, heated by what Richard called ‘hazardous-looking electric radiators.’ The station sits, however, on a scientific gold mine, a lake about half the area of Lake Ontario.

“Lake Vostok was not discovered until the 1960s, and it was no mean trick. The freshwater lake lies under 2 miles of glacial ice. A Russian pilot noticed unusually flat stretches of terrain, which he called lakes. A decade later, British radio surveys of the ice sheet’s thickness proved him right. There was water between the ice sheet and the bedrock. At least 76 subglacial lakes have now been found in Antarctica, but Vostok is by far the largest. Its area is anywhere from 3900 to 5400 square miles, and it sinks to a depth of 1600 feet. A cover of clear lake ice separates it from the glacier.

“Richard actually combined two of the leading science stories of our time. Scientists are excited at the prospect of finding life under 2 miles of ice. The Russians drilled to within 400 feet of the lake. At 2.2 miles down, the drill had left the glacier and was in the large, clear crystals of lake water ice that had frozen to the bottom of the glacier. In those last feet of the core, scientists found bacteria and evidence of microbial mats.

“At the same time that Earth scientists were discovering the largest geographical feature to be found on Earth in the twentieth century, astronomers started making comparisons between it and the Jovian moon Europa. That satellite’s icy surface is crisscrossed by fractures, presumably caused by an ocean below. Thus, to explore both Lake Vostok and the oceans of Europa, scientists must find ways to drill through miles of ice and into the liquid water zone without introducing any organisms themselves. One plan is to have the drill head frequently spritzed with hydrogen peroxide.

“Lake Vostok is apparently another example of life thriving without the energy provided by sunlight. (First we discovered hydrothermal vents in the oceans.) Vostok does not freeze to the bottom because of heat rising from the Earth’s interior. Europa is heated by the flexing of the entire moon as its orbit takes it closer to and then farther from Jupiter, a planet with 1300 times the mass of Earth and an equally strong gravitational field.

“Walter Sullivan would have seen the possibilities immediately. So did Richard Stone. We at Smithsonian feel especially honored, because Richard won the Walter Sullivan Award for his very first appearance in our magazine. Needless to say, we hope to use him early and often in the future.”

—JOHN WILEY, Smithsonian Magazine, Washington, D.C.

Response

“I am honored to be here today to accept this award from the American Geophysical Union.

“I would like to express my deep gratitude to Jack Wiley and his colleagues at Smithsonian Magazine for commissioning the Lake Vostok story. Jack retired from Smithsonian earlier this fall. It was a pleasure writing for Jack, which makes it all the more sad that I had the opportunity to work with him on only one story. But this honor testifies to what a fantastic science editor he was for Smithsonian over the years. I would also like to thank my editor at Science, Colin Norman, for sending me to Antarctica in 1997 and my wife, Mutsumi, for delaying our honeymoon until after I returned from my Vostok adventure.

“My presence before you is largely thanks to the influence of Richard Kerr. Most of you know Dick as a talented science journalist and a genuinely good guy, not to mention the first winner in 1993 of the AGU Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism. Week after week, Dick demonstrates to the rest of us at Science how to write about geophysics with supreme accuracy and flair. He’s the best in the business.

“It’s hard to imagine that Dick would ever need affirmation of his storytelling skills, but I’ll share a little secret. As a cub reporter at Science in 1991, one day I noticed a single-line letter that was tacked to the bulletin board in Dick’s office. The letter was on New York Times stationery, and it had been typed on one of those old electric typewriters. It was from Walter Sullivan, predicting that Dick would be the next AGU science writing award winner. Having had Walter hold you in high esteem was truly special indeed: that 12-year-old letter is still up there on Dick’s wall.

“Many thanks to the American Geophysical Union and its scientists for giving myself and other science writers a chance to follow in Dick’s, and Walter’s footsteps.”

—RICHARD STONE, Science, Cambridge, U.K.

Alexandra Witze was awarded the 2000 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism at the AGU Spring Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on June 2, 2000, in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes a single article or a radio/television report that makes geophysical material accessible and interesting to the general public.

 

Citation

“‘Paradise Submerged,’ an account of a sunken plateau in the Indian Ocean mimicking the legend of Atlantis, has earned writer Alexandra Witze the 2000 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism.

“It is most fitting and proper that Alexandra Witze should be honored for her excellence in writing on the Earth sciences, for she is a gem. Her writing has sparkled since her first days as a science writing intern in Dallas 7 years ago.

“From the outset of her career, Alex has brightened the lives of her science journalism colleagues with her enthusiasm and energy, intelligence and insight. Now an accomplished veteran at age 29, she outshines many writers much older, combining clarity with verve in presenting the wonders of the geophysical world to the half a million subscribers of The Dallas Morning News.

“The foundation for her endeavor is solid—an Earth and planetary science degree from MIT, a master’s certification in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz, 2 years as an editor at the now defunct, but once lively, magazine Earth. On that foundation she has built a record of superior reporting on science around, outside, and inside the world. She has brought to readers of The News vivid accounts of probes in deep space, comet collisions with Jupiter, rocks and rovers on Mars, as well as engaging glimpses into the scientific secrets of the Earth—from dinosaur fossils and the inner working of earthquakes to the archaeology of brothels and the science of precious gems.

“She has also guided readers on tours of the life and land beneath the sea, most entertainingly in the journey to the submerged Kerguelen Plateau—‘a remote island, covered by a lush forest inhabited by fantastic creatures,’ wrote Alex. ‘But don’t call a travel agent yet,’ she warned. The island paradise of Kerguelen ‘vanished millions of years ago, beneath the waves of the Indian Ocean.’

“The only Kerguelen vacationers today are the scientists who study this lost land, now ‘visible only where its highest mountains jut above sea level.’ Alex went on to report the secrets that the scientific vacationers seek, ranging from the history of the Indian Ocean to patterns of ancient animal migrations to the dangers of explosive basaltic eruptions. In describing Kerguelen research and its implications, Alex brought her readers face to face with the excitement of exploration and discovery. That’s the sort of thing that science writers are supposed to do, and Alex does it superbly.

“Her award for this article honors excellent work on a specific story, but this recognition should echo as a well deserved acknowledgment of her career in its entirety. She is a paragon of what is best not only in science journalism, but in journalism of all sorts, and her work demonstrates a consistent dedication to presenting readers the new, the interesting, and the important, with accuracy, sophistication, and flair.”

—TOM SIEGFRIED, Science Editor, The Dallas Morning News, Tex.

Response

I am thrilled to accept this award from the American Geophysical Union, an award associated with the names of two early influences on my science journalism career.

“Walter Sullivan, for whom this award is named, is an icon in the science writing world. I met him briefly, at my very first AGU Meeting where he made an appearance in the press room. I think I worked up the nerve to tell him how I had just finished Continents in Motion, his book on the development of plate tectonics theory. Talking to him seemed almost as monumental as talking to scientists, who seemed remote and inaccessible to a fledgling science writer.

“John McPhee, who received this award in 1993, is most likely a familiar name to this gathering. My bookshelves, probably like yours, have long been packed with McPhee’s geology books. Like no one else, he showed how it is possible to wax poetic about olivine and ophiolites. It is an honor to be in his company, and that of the other award recipients.

“While I worked on the Kerguelen Plateau story, my editors in Dallas, Tom Siegfried and Karen Patterson, provided encouragement, writing tutorials, and constant advice on transitions. Jeff Kanipe has always been a loving source of moral support.

“I learned long ago that scientists are not as inaccessible as they can initially appear. My story would not have been possible without the generous help of Mike Coffin and Fred Frey, co-chief scientists of Ocean Drilling Program Leg 183, and the ODP support staff at Texas A & M. These researchers gave me a virtual tour of Kerguelen, in lieu of an actual trip to a lost continent. Thanks to the American Geophysical Union and its scientists for providing an endless source of rich material for us journalists to write about.”

—ALEXANDRA WITZE, The Dallas Morning News, Tex.

David Sington was awarded the 1999 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism at the AGU Spring Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on June 2, 1999, in Boston, Massachusetts. The award recognizes a single article or a radio/television report that makes geophysical material accessible and interesting to the general public.

 

Citation

“The Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Scientific Journalism has in the past been given to distinguished American journalists for written articles. Our 1999 awardee, David Sington, is not a journalist in the usual sense of the word, since he works in television rather than with the printed word. He is being honored for the programs he made while working for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which have brought the excitement of modern Earth sciences to millions of people all over the world.

“David started his career in a conventional way, as an undergraduate at Cambridge, England, taking a broad-based science degree. However, there are many sides to undergraduate life at Cambridge, and David became interested in making films. When he graduated in 1983 he went to work for the BBC World Service, a radio service with a long and distinguished history of independent reporting. David’s real interest was in films and scientific ideas, rather than opposing tyranny, so he moved to television and started to make films about scientific discoveries with the Horizon team. It was here that I first met him, when Simon Lamb, a friend of David’s from his Cambridge days, suggested to David that he should make a program about melt generation inside the Earth. When David first came to see me I was doubtful about the whole idea. I was having difficulty getting professional scientists to understand the new ideas and could not see how a television program could be made to work. Furthermore, the processes involved take place deep within the Earth and cannot possibly be filmed. So the whole idea seemed nonsense. David came anyway and spent several days with me just talking. The end result was ‘The Day the Earth Melted,’ which is still a marvelous introduction to the new field: scientifically accurate, intellectually interesting, and fun to watch. David tells me that this film was really his introduction to the Earth sciences and gave him the idea of the much larger project, ‘Earth Story,’ for which he is now being honored. I watched all except one of the eight episodes of this major series, which took 2 ½ years to film, and was delighted by it. David succeeded in capturing on film what modern research in the Earth sciences is like, how the people involved think and work, and why the issues are exciting. He has only been able to do this because he has worked so hard to understand the subject and because he is so obviously interested in capturing the enthusiasm of the scientists themselves.

“To a practicing scientist like myself, the success of the series is staggering. It was first shown on the BBC on Sunday at 8 p.m. This is one of the most competitive time slots for any program, because the other channels are showing long-running and popular dramas. However, it attracted higher ratings–the best in its slot for some years–with a steady audience of over 3 million for the eight programs. Its success has made the television management in the United Kingdom aware of the huge potential audiences for good science programs. The problem is that David’s success makes the process look easy, and it is not. David’s combination of scientific curiosity and visual sense is unique. Fortunately, it is not going to be wasted by promotion to an administrative position in the BBC, where he would be unable to make programs, because David has now left to set up his own production company, DOX Productions, Ltd. I am sure we all wish him every success with this new enterprise. I have great expectations!”

—DAVID P. MCKENZIE, Bullard Laboratory, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Response

“I am greatly honored to be receiving this prestigious award from the American Geophysical Union. ‘Earth Story’ is the fruit of the efforts of a large team. Producers, directors, researchers, cinematographers, sound recordists, film editors, colorists, dubbing mixers, designers, animators, musicians, and helicopter pilots–nearly 200 people in all–worked long and hard to create a television series as good as we could make it. I am delighted to accept this award on their behalf.

“Whatever the skills and dedication of the production team, the real authors of the series were the scientists who appeared in it and the many others whose discoveries we were exploring. “Wherever we went, to the North Greenland Ice Core Project in Greenland, aboard the Atlantis II to the Mid-Ocean Ridge, to the gold mines of the Rand, we were met by unfailing kindness and by patience with the sometimes peculiar demands of filming.

“Our aim, as Dan McKenzie says in his very flattering citation, was not only to communicate to the audience an understanding of the basic processes that shape our planet, but also to explain how it is that scientists have come to know what they do. At our most ambitious, we wanted to use the medium of film to give the viewers a sense of what it is like to study the Earth, and to entertain them with the vicarious thrill of discovery. Wherever we succeeded, it was only through the enthusiastic help of the scientists who took part in the project. Most of them will be members of AGU. It is especially gratifying that the finished product has met with their approval.

“To be allowed to make ‘Earth Story’ was an enormous privilege. I got to go to some of the most beautiful places on Earth in the company of the some of the most interesting people I have ever met. For me, the extraordinary discoveries of the Earth sciences have made the world a more interesting place. If ‘Earth Story’ succeeded in making its viewers more interested in the world around them, then that is our real reward.”

—DAVID SINGTON, DOX Productions, Ltd., London, United Kingdom

Kevin Krajick

1998

Jon Krakauer was awarded the Walter Sullivan Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on December 10, 1997, in San Francisco, California. The Walter Sullivan Award recognizes a journalist for a single article or a radio/television report that makes geophysical material accessible and interesting to the public.

 

Citation

“Beneath the majestic beauty of Mount Rainier lies a future drama between nature and society. A powerful and compelling story of the volcano’s past and the potential for tomorrow, entitled `Geologists worry about dangers of living `under the volcano,’ has earned writer Jon Krakauer the 1997 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism.

“Through Jon’s acute journalistic vision, we learn of the connection between clumps of reddish brown rock that cling to the spikes of a climber’s crampons and the geology of lahars — `flash floods of semiliquid mud, rock and ice that surge down from the heights with terrifying speed and destructive power,’ notes Jon in this Smithsonian magazine story. We discover that at least 60 lahars have roared down from Mount Rainier in the past 10,000 years, some carrying massive debris flows all the way to Puget Sound, more than 50 miles from the mountain.

“We also find that this hydrothermally altered rock is an external expression of a blistering reaction between geothermal aquifers and acidic sulfur-bearing gases that is eroding Mount Rainier from the inside out. In the words of geologist Kevin Scott, `the entire edifice of the mountain is stewing in its own chemical juices and as a consequence it’s becoming increasingly rotten and unstable.’

“Jack Wiley, Jon’s editor at Smithsonian, had this to say about Jon’s entry. `Starting at the top of the mountain, Jon Krakauer explains what is happening inside Mount Rainier and why it could result in a catastrophe, without the volcano actually erupting. He discusses the lahar that destroyed much of Armero, Colombia, and how an earthquake, a volcanic event, or simply the collapse of a `rotted’ rock could trigger one on Rainier. Geologists and public officials worry about the best ways to protect the 100,000 people living on top of past mud slides. The article is both dramatic science and public service.’

“Jon learned to climb at the age of eight, and he climbed Mount Rainier for the first time 2 years later. He has climbed Mount Rainier many times since, but `had little idea of the hazards posed by its geologic instability’ until Smithsonian magazine asked him to write this story. We are indebted to Jon for his ability to weave the human experience together with our current knowledge of geophysics in a highly readable and understandable manner. The story also reminds us of the necessity of conveying our science to public officials and the public so they can take appropriate steps to mitigate future losses from rare but extreme geophysical hazards.”

—JOHN SANDERS, American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.

Response

“I’m very grateful to the AGU for honoring me with this award, for an article I wrote for Smithsonian Magazine about Mt. Rainier. I first climbed Rainier in 1964, when I was 10 years old, and I’ve climbed it numerous times in the ensuing decades. However, until Smithsonian asked me to write about the volcano, I had little idea of the hazards posed by its geologic instability. The story was fascinating to write, and provided a bulletproof excuse for ascending the mountain one more time. It also introduced me to a group of smart, extremely dedicated scientists.

“The idea for this article originated with Richard S. Fiske, of the Smithsonian Institution, to whom I owe special thanks. I would also like to thank my superb editors at Smithsonian Magazine: John P. Wiley Jr., Don Moser, Alison C. McLean, Edgar Rich, and Bonnie Stutski. Thanks as well to my climbing companions, Dielle Havlis and Lee Joseph, who accompanied me to the summit of Rainier in September 1995. Mostly, however, I am indebted to the members of the geophysical community who put up with a barrage of stupid questions and generously shared their expertise: Kevin M. Scott, David R. Zimbelman, Thomas W. Sisson, James W. Vallance, Carolyn L. Driedger, Paul Kennard, Patrick T. Pringle, Stephen D. Malone, Donald A. Swanson, and Jonathan Swinchatt.”

—JON KRAKAUER, Seattle, Washington

Michael Parfit

1996

Robert Lee Hotz

1995

Robert Kunzig

1994

John McPhee

1993

Cory Dean

1992

Eugene Linden

1991

J. D. Achenbach

1990

Walter Seager Sullivan

1989

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