Sarah Kaplan wins 2023 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award

Sarah Kaplan of The Washington Post in Washington, DC on February 26, 2018. Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post

Sarah Kaplan (@sarahkaplan48) at the Washington Post has won the 2023 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, CASW’s annual prize for young science journalists.

Kaplan submitted four stories focused on climate change. One describes how magnificent bristlecone pines in Death Valley are threatened by an extended drought. Another takes her readers to Peru, where a local farmer is suing a German energy company because people in his region fear melting glaciers could cause catastrophic damage to their homes. A third follows survivors of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., as they explore the charred landscape and pursue an uncommon form of therapy. The fourth tells the story of Crawford Lake in Ontario, which could be the “golden spike” that defines a proposed new chapter of geologic history, the Anthropocene. (A paywall may affect the above links).

Kaplan’s pieces are beautifully illustrated with graphics, photographs and videos. But the journalists who judged her entries focused on her reporting, writing, and storytelling, which brought the pieces to life.

Judge Greg Miller, a freelance science journalist, praised Kaplan’s writing, which was “sharp and vivid throughout and almost poetic in places.”

Eva Emerson, editor in chief of Knowable Magazine, said, “I was impressed with the scope of the stories, the skill of her reporting and the way she centers people and places in explorations of changing environment.”

Stephanie Lee said the ambitious and original pieces “deftly explore how climate change is upending our landscape and the lives of everyday people.”

Kaplan, a resident of Washington, D.C., started at the Post as an intern nine years ago. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2014 with a degree in international culture and politics.

Along with the winners of other 2023 awards conferred by CASW and the National Association of Science Writers, Kaplan will be honored this fall during the organizations’ jointly organized meeting, ScienceWriters2023, to be held in Boulder and Aurora, Colo.

Judges for the 2023 award were:

  • Eva Emerson, editor in chief, Knowable Magazine
  • Nell Greenfieldboyce, science correspondent at National Public Radio and a previous recipient of the Clark/Payne award
  • Lisa Margonelli, editor in chief, Issues in Science and Technology, and author of two books, including Underbug
  • Stephanie Lee, senior reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Greg Miller, a freelance science journalist based in Portland, Ore.

The highly competitive prize was created in 1989 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. For the first three decades, the judging was 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.

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