WASHINGTON - The American Geophysical Union has named its award for sustained achievement in science journalism for Robert C. Cowen, who has covered science for The Christian Science Monitor for more than 50 years. Cowen will himself receive the Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism on May 31 at AGU's Spring Meeting in Boston.
The award, heretofore known as the American Geophysical Union Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism, may be presented no more often than every two years, and nominations are accepted only from members of AGU. The organization's Public Information Committee recommends honorees to the AGU Council, which makes the final decision. The naming of the award for Cowen and its award to him were voted unanimously by the Council during its December meeting in San Francisco, California.
"We have long wanted to honor Bob Cowen in this way, as his contribution to the public understanding of science has been enormous. But since his formal retirement from the Monitor, Bob had been serving first as a member and then as chair of AGU's Public Information Committee, so it just wasn't possible until now," said Dr. Marcia McNutt, President of AGU. The committee took action soon after Cowen's term ended last June 30. The award has been presented, under its previous name, twice before: to Richard Kerr of Science magazine (1993) and David Perlman of the San Francisco Chronicle (1997).
Cowen was science writer and editor of the Monitor from 1950 to 1995, with time out for a four year stint as Senior Editor for Features. Since 1995, he has continued to write about science for the Monitor under contract. He learned of his award from McNutt in the Press Room of AGU's Fall Meeting, which he covered for the paper.
Cowen majored in atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his bachelor and master of science degrees in 1949 and 1950. He is active in MIT alumni affairs.
He has received many previous awards, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science-Westinghouse award, the American Chemical Society's Grady Medal (now Grady-Stack), and the American Institute of Physics science writing award. He is a member of AAAS, AGU, the American Meteorological Society, Sigma Xi, the National Association of Science Writers, and the International Science Writers Association.
Cowen resides in Concord, Massachusetts, with his wife, Mary.