2019 Excellence in Institutional Writing Award winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Excellence in Institutional Writing Awards, sponsored by the National Association of Science Writers:

  • In the long-form category: “Origins,” by Kelly April Tyrrell (with Jeff Miller, photographer, and Justin Bomberg, video producer), University of Wisconsin–Madison
A headshot of Kelly April Tyrrell

Kelly Tyrrell

The winner in each category will receive a cash prize of $2,000, to be presented at an awards luncheon on October 26, 2019, during the ScienceWriters2019 meeting in State College, Pa.

Tyrrell is a science writer and interim director of research communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Commenting on “Origins,” the judges stated: “The writer crafted a compelling and accessible narrative from three complex origin stories: of galaxies, of life on Earth, and of humankind. In this ambitious and deeply researched storytelling project, there’s something for everyone, from the general public to the science-savvy. Tyrrell artfully renders the immensity of the universe and its emerging life forms in a way that's unintimidating and yet awe-inspiring. ‘Origins’ reminds us what institutional writing can and should be.”

Castañón is a science reporter at Northeastern University. The judges wrote that they were impressed with her “ability to explain the principles of quantum information theory, a highly technical topic, in an engaging and readable way.” They said they “felt she did a very nice job choosing appropriate metaphors and were impressed that she found ways to tie the subject to other concepts in computer science and physics, such as the traveling salesman problem and Einstein’s famous description of quantum entanglement as ‘spooky action at a distance.’”

A headshot of Laura Castañón

Laura Castañón

In each of the two categories, two entries received honorable mention. In the long-form category, honorable mention went to:

Honorable mention in the short-form category went to:

NASW thanks the judging committee: Jennifer Cox (Director of Engineering Communications (retired), NC State University), Liz Fuller-Wright (Princeton University), Diedtra Henderson (Children’s National Health System), Adrienne Miller (Purdue University), Kasha Patel (NASA Earth Observatory), and Elaine Vitone (Pitt Med magazine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine). The Awards Committee was co-chaired by Alla Katsnelson (freelance) and Jyoti Madhusoodanan (freelance), and the Excellence in Institutional Writing Awards were coordinated by Awards Committee members Barbara Gastel (Texas A&M University) and Jill Sakai (freelance and University of Wisconsin–Madison).

First granted in 2018, the NASW Excellence in Institutional Writing Award was established to recognize high-caliber publicly accessible science writing produced on behalf of an institution or other non-media organization. The current year was the first that long-form and short-form entries were considered separately.

Entries for next year's competition, for material published or broadcast in 2019, are due February 1, 2020. Online entries open at www.nasw.org/excellence in December 2019. The largest organization devoted to the professional interests of science writers, the National Association of Science Writers fosters the dissemination of accurate information regarding science through all media devoted to informing the public. Our members include more than 2,500 journalists, authors, editors, producers, public information officers, students, and people who write and produce material intended to inform the public about science, health, engineering, and technology. For more information, visit www.nasw.org or write director@nasw.org.

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