Member Since 2011
Julia L. Rosen
Freelance science journalist
Honors and Awards

Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism
Received December 2023
Independent journalist Julia Rosen trained as a geologist, but over the past decade, she has become an accomplished professional storyteller. Julia brings to all of her writing the research rigor of her scientific background, the clear vision of a sensitive observer and the lyricism of a poet. These skills combine to make her an exceptional communicator of complex, technical and abstract subjects. She has written gracefully about invasive earthworms, about the importance of the soil nutrient phosphorous, about bighorn sheep and genetically engineered chestnut trees and about climate grief. She is currently at work on a book about an often and unjustly overlooked plant: grass. This year, AGU joins others in recognizing Julia for her considerable talents, awarding her the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism for her story “Catching Crabs in a Suffocating Sea,” published in Hakai Magazine in March 2022.

Julia began pursuing this story, which covers climate-exacerbated ocean oxygen loss, while working as a science reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She had decided to center her work on climate change, but rather than focus solely on the problem, as so many journalists do, she felt strongly that each of her articles should contain some element of a solution. After all, many climate impacts are now locked in, and all of us must find ways to live in the world as it will be. An Oregon state fisheries official told Julia about an effort to enlist crab fishermen to collect data on oxygen-poor swaths of the ocean off the West Coast that have proven deadly for marine life. The sensors they used also held promise for allowing crabbers to identify and avoid these dead zones — a valuable tool that could help preserve a culturally and economically important fishery. Ultimately, Julia spent 24 hours at sea with an Oregon captain and his crew, observing the difficulties and beauties of crabbing and the operation of one of the oxygen sensors in real time. “Perhaps,” as Julia writes in the award-winning piece, “this is what adaptation looks like: empowering people, one by one, to navigate an uncertain future.”

— Sarah Gilman
Independent writer, illustrator, and contributing editor at Hakai Magazine and bioGraphic
I am deeply honored to receive this year’s Walter Sullivan Award, whose past winners include both friends and idols. Before I became a journalist, I was a member of the AGU community. As a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University, I studied the gases trapped in polar ice cores to understand past climate changes. However, I gradually realized that my skills would be better put to use writing about science — and where science and society collide — than in conducting research. And that makes this award all the more meaningful to me. This story, in particular, is exactly the kind of thing I one day hoped to write when I set out to become a science journalist. It takes an important scientific subject — the loss of oxygen from the ocean as a result of climate change — and goes beyond a technical explanation to examine its profound impacts on society. The story also zooms in on this particular issue to highlight how climate adaptation is already underway and what it can look like. Of course, I was extremely lucky that researchers like Francis Chan had already started to think about the real-world implications of this problem when they came up with the idea of building oxygen sensors that could fit inside crab pots and provide crabbers with real-time oxygen data. I am grateful to Francis and his colleagues for sharing their work with me, as well as to Captain Dave Bailey and his crew for letting me tag along on an overnight fishing trip off the Oregon Coast (and for giving me helpful tips on coping with seasickness!). I also thank my wonderful editors at Hakai Magazine, Sarah Gilman and Jude Isabella, for giving this story a home and helping it become the best version of itself that I could make it.— Julia Rosen, Freelance journalist
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AGU Mass Media Fellow
Received January 2014
Outstanding Student Presentation Award
Received January 2011

Presentation Title: New insights on the phasing of atmospheric methane and temperature change during the Last Glacial Termination from the North Greenland Eemian (NEEM) Ice Core

Event: 2011 Fall Meeting

Awarding Section: Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology

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