SHERF fellows announced for 2022-23

Twelve journalists have been selected for the 2022-23 National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships (SHERF), a collaboration of CASW, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the Society of Environmental Journalists.

This is the second year of the fellowship, which offers training, mentoring, and networking opportunities to early-career journalists pursuing careers in science, health or environmental reporting, or some combination of the three, while they continue their work.

Funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the program will offer selected fellows niche workshops, customized webinars, support to attend national conferences, access to unique resources, and professional mentors to assist with their career development. The fellowship has already begun with a short course in data and statistics. Their first conference together will be ScienceWriters2022, which begins with virtual programming Oct. 12 and continues with in-person sessions in Memphis, Tenn. Oct. 21-25.

The 2022-23 fellows are:

  • Aarón Miguel CantúType Investigations fellow, climate reporter, Capital & Main, California
  • Bella Isaacs-Thomas, digital science reporter, PBS NewsHour, Washington, D.C.
  • Christian von Preysing-Barry, reporter, KRGV-TV, Texas
  • Darian Benson, reporter, Side Effects Public Media, Indianapolis
  • Devi Shastri, health and medical science reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin
  • Erin Rode, environment reporter, The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, Calif.
  • Jena Brooker, environment reporter, BridgeDetroit, Detroit
  • Neel Dhanesha, climate change reporter, Vox, Washington, D.C.
  • Rachel Cohen, reporter, Boise State Public Radio, Idaho
  • Sarah True, independent health care journalist, Washington, D.C.
  • Shantal Riley, independent health and environmental journalist, New York
  • Zoya Teirstein, staff writer, Grist, Brooklyn, NY

As it did its first year, the fellowship attracted many highly qualified applicants, with more than 90 journalists applying for the opportunity.

“Today’s science, health, or environmental reporter needs to be able to cover all these topics well and understand how they intersect with each other and a wealth of social, cultural, and political issues,” said Rosalind Reid, CASW executive director. “This extraordinarily accomplished and diverse group of fellows will gain important skills, knowledge, and connections for covering issues critical to regional and national audiences.”

“The future of science, health, and environmental journalism depends on creating a more sustainable career path for talented reporters — and flexible, free, early career fellowship programs like this one fill a missing rung on the career ladder, especially for journalists from groups that have been traditionally under-represented in the field,” said Meaghan Parker, Executive Director of the Society of Environmental Journalists. “We are especially pleased that journalists of color comprise more than half of the group.”

“Our first class immediately demonstrated the value of the fellowship because the fellows came from so many different backgrounds, which contributed to the group’s overall awareness of important, untold stories on these beats,” said Katherine Reed, AHCJ’s director of education and content. “Their work reflected the richness of that experience, and I am confident the next group will benefit in much the same way.”