Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

Ryan Cross wins Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award

The winner of the 2019 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, an annual prize for young science journalists, is Ryan Cross, assistant editor at Chemical & Engineering News.

Cross received the award and its $1,000 prize for three stories:

•    Can mRNA disrupt the drug industry?
•    Epitranscriptomics: The new RNA code and the race to drug it
•    Adjusting the yin and yang of the cell

The panel of judges cited Cross for his exemplary beat reporting on highly technical topics. They were impressed with his deep and diligent reporting, strong narratives, good use of people to tell stories, and commitment to explaining both the promise and the limitations of fields of science that have often been widely hyped.  

Cross was selected as the winner from a record-high number of submissions—59 in total.

“I’ve always loved science,” Cross says. He wanted to be a paleontologist when he was five. After studying neuroscience and genetics as an undergraduate at Purdue University, he started a PhD program in medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology—and a bit of dissatisfaction crept in. “I love the culture, politics and economics that influence science, but as a bench scientist, you are told to stay out of those,” he explains. So at the last possible moment before the deadline, he applied to Boston University’s science journalism program. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I really caught the journalism bug,” he says. “It was what I had always wanted to do, but had never thought about before.” After several internships, Cross landed at C&EN. He is based in Boston.

The award will be presented by the Evert Clark Fund and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing as part of the annual ScienceWriters awards ceremony on Saturday, October 26. The award ceremony will take place during ScienceWriters2019, which includes the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) workshop program and CASW’s New Horizons in Science briefings, in State College, Pa.

Judges for the 2019 award were:
•    Laura Helmuth, health, science, and environment editor at the Washington Post;
•    Richard Harris, science correspondent at National Public Radio, CASW board member, and author of Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions;
•    Eugene Russo, senior editor of the Front Matter section of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS);
•    David Lindley, author of Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science and other books about physics; and
•    Susan Milius, life sciences writer at Science News.

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 31st 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/ Seth Payne Award page.


Note: The American Chemical Society, publisher of C&EN, is a longtime contributor to CASW's general fund.