Tom Siegfried wins AGU's Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism

Tom Siegfried, freelance writer and former science editor of the Dallas Morning News, has been named winner of the Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism. The award is presented by the American Geophysical Union to "an individual who has made significant, consistent, and lasting contributions of high quality in science journalism, particularly in the coverage of subjects related to the Earth and space sciences."

In selecting Siegfried, AGU recognized above all his tenure at the Dallas Morning News (1985-2004), where he created and nurtured one of the most respected science departments of any U.S. newspaper. He wrote over 900 weekly columns on aspects of science and its role in society, demonstrating a broad knowledge of diverse scientific fields. His column now appears every second week in The Why Files, an online science publication of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

At the Dallas Morning News, Siegfried hired and trained a team of reporters to specialize in specific aspects of science and medicine. One of them, Alexandra Witze (herself a winner of AGU's Sullivan Award), concentrated on Earth and space science news. She regularly covered Fall Meeting and meetings of other scientific societies, as well as research published in journals, resulting in a stream of stories in the Morning News about progress in the sciences most relevant to AGU.

Siegfried has considered it a duty to encourage and mentor young science writers. He annually hosted a Mass Media Fellow, as well as interns, at the Morning News, and some of his "alumni," both staff and Fellows, have developed distinguished careers of their own at such publications as Nature, The Los Angeles Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, Siegfried has helped assure that science journalists stay abreast of new developments and that reporters meet with leading researchers in a variety of fields.

Siegfried is the author of two books, The Bit and the Pendulum (Wiley, 2000)and Strange Matters (Joseph Henry, 2002). A third book is due later this year. He has already won numerous awards, including the Science-in-Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers and the Grady-Stack Award of the American Chemical Society.


The Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism is named for the distinguished former science editor of the Christian Science Monitor, now a freelance writer and active volunteer participant in AGU committees. The award is presented at intervals of two years or more. Previous winners of the sustained achievement award were Richard Kerr, Science (1993); David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle (1997); Robert Cowen (2001--the year the previous AGU Award was renamed in his honor); and Paula Apsell, NOVA (2004).

AGU's president, John A. Orcutt, will present the Cowen Award to Siegfried at Honors Evening during the 2006 Joint Assembly, on 25 May in Baltimore, Maryland. The Sullivan, Perlman, and Special journalism awards, previously announced, will be presented at the same event. (See

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