For Immediate Release
March 27, 2012

Christine Dell'Amore

D.C. Science Writers Association Announces 2011 Science Newsbrief Award Winners

Washington, D.C.—The D.C. Science Writers Association (DCSWA) is pleased to announce the winners of the third annual Science Newsbrief Award.

Most science writing awards go to complex, multipart stories, but those awards often fail to recognize one of the most challenging—and most common—tasks of the science writer: writing short. Done well, short, accessible, accurate pieces make an enormous contribution to the public understanding of science.

For the 2011 award, four science writers on the DCSWA board judged more than 60 entries that had been made anonymous to encourage fairness.

The winner is Nadia Drake for her piece "Iapetus Gets Dusted" in the magazine Science News. One judge said that in just 310 words, Drake "compellingly and precisely reports on a puzzling mystery: the source of Iapetus' two-colored appearance."

"It is very difficult to write short and well—this author admirably succeeds."

Nadia Drake has covered astronomy for Science News since September 2011. Nadia, once a professional ballet dancer, holds a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a PhD in genetics from Cornell University. She has interned at Nature, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

The judges recognized Drake a second time with an honorable mention for her news brief "Fruit of the Loo," also in Science News, which a judge said "reeks of succinct and tight wordcrafting while sticking to the 'potty-based' hook throughout."

A second honorable mention went to Rachel Ehrenberg for "Hidden Dalliance Revealed by X-Rays," published in the web edition of Science News. According to one of the judges, the story had "nice phrasing, a comfy and familiar feel, and introduced the new and intriguing word 'pentimenti'"—a reappearance in a painting of a design which has been painted over.

Rachel Ehrenberg covers interdisciplinary sciences and chemistry for Science News. She has degrees in botany and political science from the University of Vermont, in evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan, and in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

An award ceremony will take place on Saturday, April 21, during DCSWA's annual Professional Development Day at the American Association for the Advancement of Science building in Washington, D.C. Drake will be presented with a $500 prize and a crystal trophy. The honorable mentions will receive framed certificates.

All DCSWA members were eligible to submit entries published or distributed between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.

Past winners are Sam Kean, for a piece in ScienceNOW, and Sarah Zielinski, for a post on Smithsonian's Surprising Science blog.

The D.C. Science Writers Association is an organization of about 500 science reporters, editors, authors, and public information officers based in the national capital area. For more information or to join, please visit Details on how to enter the 2012 Newsbrief Award will appear on the website by the end of the year.
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