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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.

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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.)

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Additional Sullivan Award eligibility information

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

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

The selection committee will also consider accuracy, initiative, originality, and clarity.

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.

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Nominations are Open!

The nomination cycle for 2020 AGU journalism awards is now open until 15 March. 

Nominations should be submitted through our online submission system.

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

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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.

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Contacts

AGU Staff Headshot Bompey

Nanci Bompey

Assistant Director, Public Information

202.777.7524 | [email protected]

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Robert Rader

Director, Engagement and Membership

202-777-7418 | [email protected]

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Leah Bland

Program Manager, Honors

202-777-7389 | [email protected]

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Antonio Covington

Program Specialist, Section Awards and Lectures

202-777-7484 | [email protected]