Council for the Advancement of Science Writing


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Regional travel fellowships available to support travel to ScienceWriters2018

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, in partnership with the National Association of Science Writers, is pleased to announce that special Regional Travel Fellowships will be provided to enable colleagues from Latin America and the Caribbean to join us for ScienceWriters2018 in Washington, D.C., October 12-16. 

These travel awards, funded with support from private contributions from U.S. science writers and others to the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists in 2017, are intended to strengthen the connections made during WCSJ2017. It is our hope that some sessions at ScienceWriters2018 will focus on cross-border and regional issues in science writing and science topics of special concern across the Americas.

Preference for funding will be given to those applicants who are part of the program as either session organizers or speakers and to those applicants who are actively involved in supporting science journalism in Latin America.

Applications for the fellowships will open later this spring.

Versión en español

CASW launches website to showcase great science writing

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing announces the launch of CASW Showcase (, a website that provides an up-close look at award-winning science journalism to provide inspiration and insight to science writers, especially those who are learning the craft.

“CASW celebrates excellence in our profession,” said CASW President Alan Boyle. “Each year, dozens of science writers donate their time to awards programs, combing through publications, websites and broadcasts to find examples of exceptional reporting and writing about science and its impact on society. We want to amplify the impact of those programs, celebrate great science journalism and provide a resource for everyone who aspires to be a great science writer.”

CASW board members and other senior science writers will serve as curators for the site, selecting exemplars from among recent winners of science journalism competitions. Over time, Showcase will become an in-depth archive for many different reports, showing how award-winning journalists have tackled the challenge of writing compelling stories about science for diverse audiences.

Features planned for Showcase include:

 Storygrams, or “story diagrams,” which are professional annotations of great stories to highlight how writers have tackled the challenges of covering science. Six Storygrams per year will be produced through a collaboration of CASW and The Open Notebook, which will co-publish them and add an author interview.

  • A calendar showing the deadlines for, and the announcements from, award programs for science writing. 
  • A blog, “The Envelope, Please,” which will provide site updates, news and commentary from the world of science writing awards.
  • A Suggestion Box inviting nominations of award-winning science writing from all over.

Initially Showcase will present, with permission, selected stories that have been published since 2013 and honored by either CASW’s awards programs or three other science writing competitions: the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards, presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in cooperation with the Kavli Foundation; the Science in Society Journalism Awards, presented by the National Association of Science Writers; and the Keck Futures Initiative Communication Awards, presented by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine with the support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. CASW presents the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting and manages the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

CASW Executive Director Rosalind Reid said Showcase will broaden its collection over time to include other awards programs and work selected for science-writing anthologies. As funding and technology allow, CASW hopes to add multimedia, stories that have won awards outside the U.S., and writing in languages other than English.

Freelance science journalist Shannon Hall has managed the development of the site and will serve as Showcase’s editor and blogger. Hall holds a master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree in science journalism from New York University. She freelances for Scientific American, Discover, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and other publications.

The project took flight after the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded CASW a three-year, $90,000 grant in December 2015. Additional support has come from an initiative called PressForward, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and additional contributions to CASW. Showcase uses PressForward software to facilitate the judging, selection and republishing process.

Showcase is the brainchild of CASW’s immediate past president, Cristine Russell, who advocated a larger role for CASW as a provider of resources for science journalism and communication. During strategic planning in 2014, CASW’s board focused on the needs of aspiring and student science writers. The board asked Reid and CASW’s Next Horizons Committee, chaired by freelance writer Betsy Mason, to develop a site that would provide examples of great science writing for this audience.

“Showcasing prize-winning science journalism can help those entering the field, as well as more experienced writers. There is no magic formula for what makes a great science story. But reading and dissecting some of the best articles can help inspire better science journalism,” said Russell.

About CASW

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing is committed to improving the quality and quantity of science news reaching the public. Directed and advised by distinguished journalists and scientists, CASW develops and funds programs that encourage accurate and informative writing about developments in science, technology, medicine and the environment. CASW was incorporated in 1959 as a nonprofit educational organization.

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Published July 12, 2016

For more information:





CASW Fellow awarded project grant to report on Middle East water issues

(April 2, 2018) Elizabeth Whitman (@elizabethwhitty), a master's student at the Columbia University School of Journalism, has won a $5,000 special reporting grant from CASW's Taylor/Blakeslee graduate fellowships program.

Whitman, one of five 2017-18 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellows, won for her proposal "A Land Without Water," which will take her to the Middle East to report on water and drought, digging into an age-old issue in a fresh way. She intends to produce magazine articles, interactives and photography. Her work, to be undertaken after she graduates this May with a master’s in science journalism, will also be supported by an award from the Overseas Press Club.

Whitman, who also holds a history degree from Columbia, has previously reported from the United Nations and written feature stories about Syrian refugees, public health, medicine, climate change and women’s rights from the Middle East. Her writing for Modern Healthcare as a health care industry reporter was recognized in 2017 with the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Range of Work by a Single Author.

The judges found the "Land Without Water" project plan unusually well constructed and noted the strong impression Whitman has made on the Columbia faculty. She is the third Taylor/Blakeslee Fellow to win a project fellowship. The Brinson Foundation, which underwrites the university fellowships, provides the follow-up grant to enable a Fellow to undertake a career-launching enterprise project. The first grant went to Amy McDermott, then enrolled in the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the second to Jennifer Lu at the University of Missouri.

Abren convocatoria de becas de viaje para que periodistas regionales asistan a reunión en Estados Unidos

El Consejo para el Avance de la Escritura Científica (CASW), en asociación con la Asociación Nacional de Escritores Científicos (NASW), se complace en anunciar que se ofrecerán becas de viaje regionales especiales para permitir que colegas de América Latina y el Caribe se unan a nosotros en la reunión de ScienceWriters2018 que se llevará a cabo en Washington, DC, del 12 al 16 de octubre próximos.

Estas becas de viaje, financiadas con el apoyo de contribuciones privadas de periodistas y escritores científicos de los Estados Unidos y otros países a la Décima Conferencia Mundial de Periodistas Científicos en 2017(WCSJ2017), están destinadas a fortalecer las conexiones realizadas durante dicha reunión. Esperamos que algunas sesiones en ScienceWriters2018 se centren en problemas transfronterizos y regionales en temas de ciencia y redacción de temas científicos de especial preocupación en las Américas.

Se otorgará preferencia a personas que formen parte del programa, ya sea como organizadores de la sesión o conferencistas, y a aquellos que participan activamente en el apoyo del periodismo científico en América Latina.

Las aplicaciones para las becas se abrirán más adelante esta primavera. Para más detalles, visite

English version

Experience WCSJ2017 through videos and student stories

(January 11, 2018)—Although the 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists is history, the experience and content of the conference continues. CASW was pleased to join with our conference partners in ensuring that the conference is shared worldwide through video recordings, translations and student coverage

A sampling of plenary and breakout sessions and a sponsored luncheon program given were recorded. over three days, October 26-28, 2017. The videos can be viewed at CASW's YouTube channel or through the video page on the WCSJ2017 website

“As the conference approached, we thought about the many science writers who would not be able to join us in San Francisco. We hope these videos will give them a chance to experience much of the conference over the internet,” said CASW immediate past president Cristine Russell and Ron Winslow, co-chairs of the WCSJ2017 Organizing Committee. “And we hope conference attendees from around the world will share these videos and the student stories about the sessions with colleagues back home.”

Alberto Cairo's presentation at WCSJ2017The organizers also hope that colleagues around the world will contribute video subtitles so that the sessions can be experienced in languages other than the original English.

The videos are also embedded in session pages on the website, along with student coverage of the sessions.

Student journalists produced 52 reports from the conference through a special Student Travel Fellowship program organized by CASW and the National Association of Science Writers. Support to CASW from the William K. Bowes Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science provided travel grants for 22 students (from the US and other countries shown on the graphic above, created by student Anjela Djuraskovic) and technology for the student project.

Videos online include:

Additional videos are in production.

To contribute an English transcript or a translation, navigate to the video on YouTube and find the “Add translations” link. Volunteer-uploaded translations will be published after review by the WCSJ2017 organizers. CASW board member Debbie Ponchner and other members of the WCSJ2017 Regional Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean are coordinating translations by Spanish-speaking science writers.

WCSJ2017, the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists and the first to be held in the United States, was organized by NASW and CASW in partnership with the World Federation of Science Journalists and with the participation of the University of California San Francisco, UC Berkeley and the Association of Health Care Journalists. Nearly 1,400 attendees from more than 70 nations converged on San Francisco October 26-30 for program sessions, workshops, sponsored events and field trips organized around the theme of “Bridging Science and Societies.”

Susan Desmond-Hellmann presents fifth Patrusky Lecture at WCSJ2017

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, a physician and scientist who serves as chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was selected by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) to present the fifth Patrusky Lecture on October 27, 2017, at the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists.

Desmond-Hellmann, a pioneer in health care who has devoted her career to the eradication of disease, poverty and inequity, spoke “In Defense of Science." At a time when facts-based, data-driven approaches to problems are being rejected as elitist, she made the case for science and data, drawing on personal testimony and powerful examples from the Gates Foundation’s work around the world and her own career in oncology and public health.

Desmond-Hellmann addressed journalists and science communicators from around the world gathered in San Francisco, California, for WCSJ2017. CASW and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) were co-organizers of the conference, which incorporated CASW’s traditional New Horizons in Science briefings on research and issues in science. The conference was produced in partnership with the World Federation of Science Journalists and two host universities, the University of California at San Francisco and UC Berkeley.

"The Gates Foundation is one of the world's biggest players in the field of global health, so it's particularly fitting that Dr. Desmond-Hellmann will be giving the Patrusky Lecture at this year's world conference – the first global event of its kind held in the U.S.," said CASW President Alan Boyle, aerospace and science editor at GeekWire in Seattle (shown at left presenting the Patrusky Lecture glass sculpture to Desmond-Hellmann). "Her perspective is also a great fit for the annual Patrusky Lecture, which focuses on big-picture views of scientific and social frontiers."

A full video recording of the lecture may be found on the Patrusky Lectures Page.

Desmond-Hellmann became CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2014, after serving as the first female chancellor of UCSF for five years. She leads the Gates Foundation’s vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. Drawing on diverse experience in both the public and private sectors, she creates an environment for talented and committed individuals to help more children and young people survive and thrive, combat infectious diseases that hit the poorest hardest, and empower people—particularly women and girls—to transform their lives.

Trained as an oncologist, Desmond-Hellmann spent 14 years at the biotech firm Genentech developing a number of breakthrough medicines, including two of the first gene-targeted therapies for cancer, Avastin and Herceptin. In November 2009, Forbes named her one of the world’s seven most “powerful innovators,” calling her “a hero to legions of cancer patients.” Her time at Genentech put her at the forefront of the precision medicine revolution, and in her current role she champions a similar approach to global development: precision public health—getting the right interventions, to the right populations, in the right places, to save lives.

BBC science reporter Pallab Ghosh asks a question following Desmond-Hellmann's lecture. 

Patrusky Lecturer Susan Desmond-Hellmann responds to a question while session moderator Ron Winslow looks on. (All photos by David Poller.)

She credits a move to Uganda in 1989—to work on HIV/AIDS and cancer alongside her husband, Nick—as a turning point in her career. “It was so profound to recognize… that all the learning I had done to become a doctor didn’t matter at all if I didn’t make a contribution,” she says.

Desmond-Hellmann is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. She was listed among Fortune magazine’s “top 50 most powerful women in business” for seven years and, in 2010, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and elected to the Institute of Medicine. In addition to an M.D. from the University of Reno, Nevada, she holds a master’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley. She serves on the board of directors at Facebook Inc.


The Patrusky Lectures were launched by CASW in 2013 to honor Ben Patrusky, executive director of CASW for 25 years and director of the New Horizons in Science program for 30 years. The previous Patrusky Lectures were given by chemist George M. Whitesides of Harvard University; paleontologist Donald Johanson of the Institute of Human Origins; Yale microbiologist Jo Handelsman, associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and the pioneering particle physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin.


Accomplished journalist Sharon Begley awarded 2017 Victor Cohn Prize for Medical Science Reporting

Sharon Begley, a seasoned medical reporter who is senior science writer at STAT, is the recipient of the 2017 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.

Judges cited Begley for the remarkable authority, authenticity, precision and confidence of her writing and praised the exhaustive investigative work evident in each piece of reporting. Her articles are distinguished by “a propulsive force, an accuracy and a sharpness” that are the hallmarks of a knowledgeable reporter and polished writer, they said.

Begley joined STAT, the life sciences publication of the Boston Globe, in 2015 following stints as health and science correspondent for Reuters, science editor and columnist at Newsweek magazine, and science columnist at The Wall Street Journal. In a letter nominating Begley for the Cohn Prize, Managing Editor Gideon Gil recalled that she was the first science writer hired when STAT was launched. “One person after another told us she was the best medical science reporter around. Hiring her would bring our startup instant credibility. She has.”

Begley is the 20th recipient of the prize, awarded by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) for a body of work published or broadcast within the past five years.

In selecting Begley, the judges drew attention to “Behind a Cancer-Treatment Firm’s Rosy Survival Claims,” a 2013 Reuters special investigative report on the Cancer Treatment Centers of America for which Begley did the bulk of the reporting and the writing. Seasoned with interviews and gripping stories, the article presented a thorough examination of the data behind the center’s remarkable success claims, presenting ample evidence that CTCA cherry-picks its patients and reports results selectively.

Another notable piece was Begley’s November 2016 report for STAT on gene drives, “Gene Drive Gives Scientists Power to Hijack Evolution.” That story, the judges said, provided an extraordinarily clear, thorough and dramatic explanation of the science and societal issues associated with gene drives, a genetic technology that forces introduced genes to spread through a population. Gene drives have been proposed as a way to stop the spread of disease by insects such as mosquitoes.

Begley’s nomination also included her report on the potential of personalized cancer vaccines using “neoantigens,” a story showing how a lack of resources may be holding back work on a cure for sickle cell disease, and an investigation into Myriad Genetics’ attempts to discredit rival labs’ tests for breast cancer genes.

In the nomination letter, Gil praised Begley’s “remarkable range and versatility,” noting that she “breaks news, explains cutting edge advances, investigates corporate and government malfeasance, profiles scientists, and busts myths,” writing expertly about basic science one day and workplace wellness the next. Begley’s regular column, Gut Check, systematically reviews the science behind popular claims and punctures hyped studies.

“What really sets Sharon apart from most other science writers,” Gil wrote, “is that she combines probing, original reporting with a crime reporter’s metabolism... she craves the adrenaline rush of daily journalism and getting scoops.” And the stories that she breaks are skillfully told, packed “with context, insight and prose that captivates readers."

Begley will receive a $3,000 award and certificate and be honored in San Francisco on Oct. 26, the opening day of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists, which this year replaces the annual ScienceWriters meeting jointly organized by CASW and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). CASW, a not-for-profit organization of journalists and scientists committed to improving the quality of science news and information reaching the public, is organizing WCSJ2017 with NASW and the World Federation of Science Journalists.


The Victor Cohn Prize is one of many honors earned by Sharon Begley (@sxbegle) since she joined Newsweek upon her graduation from Yale University. In 25 years at Newsweek she served as science columnist and editor and as a contributing writer at the magazine and its website, The Daily Beast (2011). From 2002 to 2007, she was a science columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and from 2012 to 2015 she was the senior health and science correspondent at Reuters (2012–15). She is co-author (with Richard J. Davidson) of the 2012 book The Emotional Life of Your Brain, author of the 2007 book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, and co-author (with Jeffrey Schwartz) of the 2002 book The Mind and the Brain. She has been honored with an honorary degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville for communicating science to the public and the Public Understanding of Science Award from the San Francisco Exploratorium. She has spoken before many audiences on the topics of science writing, neuroplasticity, and science literacy.


This year’s Cohn Prize entries were judged by Ben Patrusky, CASW’s executive director emeritus; Barbara J. Culliton, an investigative reporter, instructor and consultant who served as news editor of Science and deputy editor of Nature; and Richard Harris, National Public Radio science correspondent and CASW treasurer.

The inaugural Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting in 2000 was shared by Laurie Garrett of Newsday and Lawrence K. Altman of The New York Times. Subsequent recipients were Jon Palfreman, a public television documentarian; Daniel Q. Haney, medical editor for the Associated Press; Shannon Brownlee, a noted magazine writer and book author; Michelle Trudeau of National Public Radio; Rick Weiss of the Washington Post; Jerome Groopman of The New Yorker; Geeta Anand of The Wall Street Journal; Joe Palca of NPR; Denise Grady of The New York Times; Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press; Ron Winslow of the Wall Street Journal; Jon Cohen of Science magazine; John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; freelance health reporter and former NPR correspondent Joanne Silberner; Elisabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times; Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and Liz Szabo, health writer for USA Today and senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News.

The award honors the late Washington Post medical writer and health columnist Victor Cohn, known as the dean of medical science reporting. He distinguished himself by the clarity and effectiveness of his reporting during a 50-year career that began with outstanding coverage of early “wonder” drugs and the polio vaccine, as well as the dawn of the modern space age. Late in his career, Cohn started a Post column called “The Patient’s Advocate,” and wrote a highly regarded professional book, News & Numbers: A Guide to Reporting Statistical Claims and Controversies in Health and Other Fields. Cohn, who died of cancer in 2000, was a co-founder in 1959 of CASW.

To read Sharon Begley’s work, visit her website.

To learn more about CASW (Twitter: @sciencewriting), the Cohn Prize and past recipients, visit the CASW website.

To learn more about the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (@wcsj2017), visit

Eric Boodman wins Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award

The winner of the 2017 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, an annual prize for young science journalists, is Eric Boodman, a reporter at STAT.

Boodman received the award and its $1,000 prize for four stories in STAT:

The panel of judges cited Boodman for his highly original topics, his meticulous and deep reporting, his ability to use vivid characters to tell memorable stories, his “lovely” writing and “fun” details, and his knack for slipping complicated science and medical ideas into compelling narratives that painlessly educate readers while captivating and entertaining them.  “A writer like Boodman can potentially broaden the audience for, and the appeal of, science writing,” said one judge.

The judges and the screeners also said that quality and number of submissions for the 2017 award were extraordinarily high, with 48 submissions and 12 finalists—and that selecting one winner from among the top finalists was particularly challenging.

Originally from Montréal, Boodman graduated from Yale in 2015, where he studied journalism and the history of science. While still a student, Boodman wrote for the Montreal Gazette, the Montreal Review of Books and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He joined STAT in August 2015, and reports that he likes playing traditional Québécois fiddle music and looking at insects.

The winner will be honored by the Evert Clark Fund and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) during the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists. The conference, organized by CASW and the National Association of Science Writers in partnership with the World Federation of Science Journalists, will be held in San Francisco from October 25 to October 30.

Judges for the 2017 award were:

  • Warren Leary, retired science correspondent for the New York Times, former science writer for the Associated Press, and former CASW board member
  • Laura Helmuth, health, science, and environment editor at the Washington Post
  • Susan Milius, life sciences writer at Science News
  • Richard Harris, science correspondent at National Public Radio, CASW treasurer, and author of the new book, Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions
  • Dr. Gary B. Ellis, research review specialist at the Congressional Research Service, former director of the Office for Protection from Research Risks at the National Institutes of Health, and former AAAS Mass Media Fellow

The Clark/Payne Award was created to encourage young science writers by recognizing outstanding reporting in all fields of science. It is given each year in honor of journalist Ev Clark, who offered friendship and advice to a generation of young reporters. The annual judging is organized by John Carey, former long-time senior correspondent for Business Week and colleague of Seth Payne, who raised money for the award in memory of Ev Clark. CASW now administers the fund and manages the submission process and presentation of the award. This is the 29th year of the award.

Entrants must be age 30 or younger. The deadline for submissions is the end of June each year. For more information, please see the Evert Clark page.


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