Winners of AIBS Media Awards announced

04/12/05

Outstanding biology journalism honored

The winners of the 2005 AIBS Media Awards are:

Print Journalism:
TOM MEERSMAN, environment and natural resources reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, for "Invaded Waters," which appeared in the Star Tribune from June 13 to 15, 2004. The judges noted that "The story treats a complex subject but was nevertheless outstanding in readability, accessibility, and organization, and it made clear points about how changes in the environment affect habitat. It was balanced -- environmental writing tends to be one-sided, but in this article the author provided context. The whole package was beautifully designed: an outstanding story complemented with excellent photography."

Tom Meersman been reporting on environmental and natural resource issues in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest for the past 25 years. He has worked for the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper since 1993, and before that as a reporter and producer for Minnesota Public Radio. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, the headwaters of the Mississippi, and the western edge of the Great Lakes, so his coverage often focuses on water quality. Many of Meersman's stories involve new science about emerging issues, especially in natural resource management and in public health.

Broadcast Journalism:
DIANE TOOMEY, for "A Little Known Planet," which was broadcast on NPR's Living on Earth on December 12, 2003. The judges said that the story, which examines current attempts to discover and catalogue all the living organisms of the earth, "used clear and simple language for a lay audience to demonstrate how complex the natural world is. It used natural sounds effectively, and did not rely solely on people talking, allowing the audience to visualize scenes. An elegant and eloquent program."

Diane Toomey has been working in public radio for thirteen years as a reporter, producer and editor. Most recently, she produced a pilot for a new science show for Ira Flatow, host of NPR's Science Friday. Diane spent four years as science editor for NPR's environmental news show, Living On Earth. Toomey is now working on a start-up show covering issues of poverty and injustice, sponsored by World Vision, one of the world's largest humanitarian aid groups.

An honorable mention for print journalism was awarded to ELIZABETH PENNISI, for "The Secret Life of Fungi," which appeared in Science on June 11, 2004. The judges called it "a great story, an original idea. It shows that a skilled journalist and writer can take the smallest of living objects and make it interesting."

Elizabeth Pennisi has been a science writer at Science since 1996, where she began covering cell biology and the genome, and now likes to focus on organismal biology. She started science journalism at UPI, and along the way has worked for Discover, The Scientist, and Science News.

The AIBS Media Awards, given by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, were established in 1995 to recognize outstanding reporting on biology to a general audience. The award is limited to non-technical journalism, including print and broadcast media. The judges for this year's competition were:

LAURA HELMUTH
Laura Helmuth is the science editor for Smithsonian Magazine. She previously worked for Science's news department, where she wrote about neuroscience research and edited life sciences stories. She started out at Science editing the daily online news site ScienceNOW. She holds a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California at Berkeley and went through the U.C. Santa Cruz science writing program.

DENNIS O'BRIEN
Dennis O'Brien has been a reporter at the Baltimore Sun since 1987 and has been writing about science for the past three years. Along with appearing in the Sun, his work has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer and a number of other papers.

DEBBIE SCHWARTZ
Debbie Schwartz is publisher of Connexions Communications, which specializes in environment and science news and features. Her work has appeared in Wildlife Conservation, Environmental Science and Technology, and Chemical Innovation, as well as on Reuters and United Press International newswires, in the Chicago Tribune, and in The New York Times.

THOMAS WOOD
Thomas Wood is Assistant Professor of Integrative Studies in New Century College at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He holds a B.S. from the University of California, Davis, an M.S. from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University. He works closely with research personnel at the National Zoological Park Conservation and Research Center where his research interests involve assisted reproduction in mammals, and conservation studies education reform.

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