Sabrina Imbler wins 2022 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award

Sabrina Imbler. Photo: Zhen Qin

Sabrina Imbler has won the 2022 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, CASW’s annual prize for young science journalists.

Imbler (@aznfusion) submitted four pieces they wrote while working as a reporting fellow at The New York Times. The articles showed Imbler’s ability to tackle diverse topics—from the legal struggles of a transgender teen to the mysteries of microplastics in the ocean. Here are the entries:

In Arkansas, Trans Teens Await an Uncertain Future
In the Ocean, It’s Snowing Microplastics
The DNA of Roma People Has Long Been Misused, Scientists Reveal
Started Out as a Fish. How Did It End Up Like This?

One judge noted: “Sabrina’s work met all the criteria for this prize: accuracy, clarity, resourcefulness, fairness, and timeliness—but it also went beyond that, expressing a joy and empathy that made the science very human.”

Judges praised Imbler’s “tremendous storytelling skills” and noted the “energy” of the language. One judge commented: “People who ordinarily might not be interested in the subjects of these stories—like microplastics, or a fossil fish—can find themselves pulled in by poetic turns of phrase and an artist’s attention to detail.”

“Imbler also shows solid, sensitive reporting in their story about a new Arkansas law that could ban access to gender-affirming medical treatment for minors,” one judge wrote. “Imbler paints a portrait of the real-life effects of such policies for children and parents, while revealing the teens’ own perspectives on the situation.”

Imbler, a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., is currently a staff writer at the employee-owned website Defector, covering creatures and the natural world. Their essays and reporting have appeared in various publications, including The Atlantic, Sierra, and Catapult, among others. Their first major book, an essay collection about sea creatures called How Far the Light Reaches, is forthcoming with Little, Brown in December.

Along with the winners of other 2022 awards conferred by CASW and the National Association of Science Writers, Imbler will be honored this fall during the organizations’ jointly sponsored meeting, ScienceWriters2022, to be held in Memphis.

Judges for the 2022 award were:

  • Eva Emerson, editor in chief, Knowable Magazine
  • Nell Greenfieldboyce, science correspondent at National Public Radio
  • Lisa Margonelli, editor in chief, Issues in Science and Technology and author of two books, including Underbug
  • Ashley Smart, associate director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT, senior editor at Undark, and a CASW board member
  • Rich Stone, senior science editor at HHMI’s Tangled Bank Studios

Stone and Greenfieldboyce are past recipients of the Clark/Payne award.

The prize 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 judging was organized by Richard Harris, former NPR science correspondent and CASW’s treasurer. CASW recently took responsibility for managing the award from 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. This is the 34th 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 at