WASHINGTON - Alexandra Witze, science writer for the Dallas Morning News, and Richard L. Hill, science reporter for The Oregonian, have won the American Geophysical Union's 2000 awards for science journalism, the organization announced today.
Witze won the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Writing--Features for her story, "Paradise Submerged," which was published on July 12, 1999. The award was established in 1989 in honor of its first recipient, Walter Sullivan, science writer of The New York Times. The "paradise" of the title is the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean, which was dry land some 100 million years ago, but is now, except for a few small islands, completely submerged. The plateau was explored under the auspices of the Ocean Drilling Program, which formed the basis of Witze's story. It may be seen at [ http://dallasnews.com/science/70455_witzestory.html ].
Hill is the first winner of AGU's new David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Writing--News for his story, "Quake Forecast Shifts to Land," published on May 4, 1999. The Perlman Award is named for the science editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, who was the 1997 winner of AGU's Sustained Achievement Award in Science Writing. Hill's story, which was placed at the top of page one in The Oregonian, reported new research that concluded that western Oregon could be the epicenter of a "colossal" earthquake of magnitude 8 or 9. Previous estimates had suggested that such a quake could occur some 30 miles offshore, causing much less potential damage. The story is available at [ http://www.oregonlive.com/news/99/05/st050408.html ].
The Sullivan and Perlman Awards consist of a plaque and two thousand dollars. An independent judging committee of scientists and journalists recommends the winners to the AGU Council, whose Executive Committee makes the final decision. The Perlman Award is for stories written under deadline pressure of one week or less, and the Sullivan Award is for stories with deadlines of more than one week. Work prepared for any medium except books is eligible.
Witze will receive her award at AGU's Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., on June 2. Hill will receive his at AGU's Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California, in December.
The American Geophysical Union is an organization of more than 35,000 scientists worldwide who study the Earth and its environment in space.