EurekAlert! fellowship spotlights early-career science journalists from Latin America, other emerging regions
Credit: Courtesy photos provided by the winners
Five early-career science journalists from emerging regions will attend the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting as winners of the 2020 EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters.
The winners will receive financial support to travel to Seattle, Wash., where the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific meeting will take place Feb. 13-16. Fellowship applications were accepted from China, India, Arab-majority states in the Middle East, the Balkan region and – for the first time since 2013 – Central and South America. Winners were selected by an independent panel of judges. The 2020 EurekAlert! fellowship program received partial support from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“By bringing the EurekAlert! fellowship back to Central and South America, we hope to highlight the region’s scientific contributions and its increasingly vibrant community of science journalists,” said Brian Lin, director of editorial content strategy at EurekAlert!. Earlier this year, Medillín, Colombia was selected as the host of the 2021 World Conference of Science Journalists.
Veteran science journalists from the region stressed the necessity for quality science journalism at home and abroad.
“Latin America is suffering [the] same as other regions from the decline of trust in traditional media and the move from mass media to private interchange of information through social media,” said Roxana Tabakman, a Brazil-based science journalist and judge of this year’s fellowship program. “As a result, the information received by people can be far from reality, and tailored to individual beliefs. Therefore, good science journalists are needed more than ever.
“We need passionate journalists able to maintain the necessary skepticism for editorial decision-making based on scientific evidence. In a few words, we need quality to be a strong voice in the noisy media ecosystem,” Tabakman added.
Argentinian freelance science reporter and 2011 EurekAlert! Fellowship winner Federico Kukso echoed Tabakman’s thoughts.
“Science journalism is crucial to understand current radical changes in society and to act in our environmentally endangered planet. In addition to explaining both the benefits and the costs of scientific progress, it has a fundamental role in disseminating research findings to the general public and decisionmakers: from threats to biodiversity and new scenarios caused by climate change to the latest advances in research on diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s.” Kukso is also an alumnus of the Knight Science Journalism Program and currently serves on the board of the World Federation of Science Journalists.
The winners of the 2020 EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters are:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bangalore-based winner Pratik Pawar earned a Master’s degree in biotechnology before shifting to journalism in 2018. He currently writes on a wide range of science-related subjects for The Wire, a news website published by the Indian nonprofit Foundation for Independent Journalism.
“Winning the [EurekAlert!] fellowship provides me with an opportunity to step out of my bubble and interact with a diverse community of science journalists. I am quite optimistic that this experience will have a direct impact on my journalism,” said Pawar. He is also a 2019 recipient of the S. Ramasheshan Science Writing Fellowship.
Dannie Peng completed a Master’s degree in communication and media in 2018 before beginning her journalism career, first as a business reporter. She shifted to science reporting and has written a number of cover stories and investigative reports for China Newsweek. She also sees the fellowship as a gateway to expanding her worldview and, by extension, her science reporting skill set.
“Compared with other fields, science reporting requires the highest standard for reporters to have a worldwide horizon,” said Peng. “This part is more difficult for new practitioners like me, and I believe the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting could help me broaden my horizons.”
Jane Qiu, an award-winning independent science writer in Beijing and a judge for this year’s program, further highlighted how the fellowship experience can benefit early-career science reporters from China. “The EurekAlert! Fellowship fills that crucial gap by offering Chinese reporters the opportunity to learn not only the best science but the importance of critical thinking and public scrutiny of policy decisions.”
Fellowship winner Jelena Kalinić reports for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Voice of America broadcaster and the local newspaper Oslobodjenje, where she has written about Monsanto controversies and owl ecology, among other topics.
“I really want to learn as much as possible about [the] U.S. system of funding research and to actually get in touch with U.S. culture and style, because I know it only from movies,” said Kalinić.
“I feel so happy that I will finally visit the country and try to better understand its system of science and science promotion.”
Outside of her day job, Kalinić engages in science communication even further through her online presence. She runs her own science blog, Quantum of Science, and produces videos about science and scientists for her YouTube channel.
Journalist and judge Mićo Tatalović sees the same professional learning opportunities afforded by the fellowship that Balkan-region winner Kalinić looks forward to.
“In the Balkan region there are many small countries where media are isolated by different languages, scripts and cultures. This fellowship offers an opportunity to think and go beyond the national borders to learn about global science while networking and improving your journalistic skills,” said Tatalović, who’s currently Chair of the Association for British Science Writers. “It’s a rare opportunity for early-career science journalists to be able to afford to travel to a different continent and spend several days immersed in some to the world’s best science and journalism.”
Egypt-based Mohamed Mansour came to journalism as a second career. Transitioning to science reporting in 2015 after working as an engineer, Mansour has written for the Arabic edition of Scientific American, the Egyptian newspaper AlmasryAlyoum, and Alroyea, a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.
Dalia AbdelSalam, two-time EurekAlert! fellowship alumna and judge, explained why it is especially critical for developing countries, including Egypt, to cultivate skilled science journalists.
“There is no development without science; the role the science journalists have to play in [the] developing world is extremely important, we are the ones who highlight science innovation so government and investors can know about it and try to take advantage from it,” AbdelSalam said. “There is a growing need of science coverage and science pages on social media in my region are growing fast!”
Mansour shares AbdelSalam’s sentiments. “I recognize Egypt’s need to focus on scientific research to build a better future for its growing population and to face challenges related to climate, agriculture, water scarcity, food security, energy stress, and health care.”
EL TIEMPO reporter Nicolás Bustamante Hernández looks forward to sharing the contributions of his home country, Colombia, at the AAAS Annual Meeting.
“This will be a unique way to enhance my abilities as a science reporter and an amazing chance to learn new professional skills that I will be able to apply in my day-to-day work,” said Bustamante. “Science and technology are evolving so fast and it is imperative for science journalists to keep up to date with the latest news and trends in both fields. Winning this fellowship is an important achievement in my career and is also one step in the direction of having my work delivering a global impact.”
Biographies of 2020 Fellowship Winners
Pratik Pawar (@pratikmpawar)
The Wire | India
Pratik Pawar is a science journalist currently based in Bangalore, India. After acquiring a master’s degree in biotechnology, he moved to science journalism in early 2018. In the past year and a half, he has written and reported several stories ranging from space missions to bonobos at The Wire. He is also the recipient of the 2019 S. Ramaseshan science writing fellowship. As a fellow, he writes news stories and profiles at Current Science, India’s leading open-access journal. Alongside the written word, he has a long-standing interest in podcasting and broadcast journalism. In his free time, he can be found listening to obscure podcasts or reading medical non-fiction.
China Newsweek | China
Dannie Peng graduated from the University of Macau in 2018 with a master’s degree in Communication and Media. She initially worked as a business reporter before moving to the science beat at China Newsweek in Beijing. In her time as a science journalist, she has written several cover stories and investigative reports about sperm banks, the London Patient whose HIV was cleared, Elon Musk’s Brain-Machine Interface Nuralink, and the Amazon tropical forest fire among other topics. She is currently working on her third cover story for China Newsweek on global sand mining.
Voice of America, Oslobodjenje | Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jelena Kalinić is a science journalist-stringer for Voice of America Bosnia and the daily newspaper, Oslobodjenje, and is based in Sarajevo. There, she covers a wide range of topics from zoology and botany to bioengineering, CRISPR, astrophysics, and more. In addition, she writes her own science blog, Quantum of Science, and produces her own explanatory videos about science on YouTube. She is a member of the Balkan Network of Science Journalists. Her science reporting interests of late include the philosophy and history of science and debunking pseudoscience, particularly relating to vaccines and alternative medicine.
AlmasryAlyoum | Egypt
Mohamed Mansour is an Egyptian science journalist based in Cairo working as a science editor at the popular newspaper AlmasryAlyoum, and as a freelance writer for Scientific American Arabic Edition and the Alroyea newspaper based in United Arab Emirates. He worked as an engineer before starting his career as science reporter in 2015. As a science journalist for several media outlets, he has written on topics such as physiology, physics, climate change, space technologies, health, and diseases, and has a strong interest in improving and expanding coverage of scientific topics and a desire to gain a better understanding of scientific research methods through field and lab work.
Nicolás Bustamante Hernández (@NicolasB23)
EL TIEMPO | Colombia
Nicolás Bustamante Hernández is a journalist educated at the Pontifical Xaverian University in Bogotá, Colombia. Since 2016 he has reported on science news and stories from Colombia and the rest of the world for EL TIEMPO. He creates multimedia packages for the newspaper and writes about topics such as astronomy, astrophysics, physics, cosmology, space exploration, geology, geography, archeology, paleontology, anthropology, chemistry, biology and mathematics. He was part of the group that, in 2017, won the Amway Environmental Journalism Award and the Simon Bolivar National Journalism Award for the multimedia project titled “The climate changed for us for ever.”
About the Fellowships
Established in 2004 with a seed grant from the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation and sponsored by EurekAlert!, the AAAS-operated science-news service, the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters support early-career science reporters from emerging economies by providing them with opportunities to cover the latest research and network with peers from around the world at AAAS Annual Meetings. The 2019 program is supported in part by Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Applicants must have five years or less of professional science journalism experience, meet EurekAlert!’s longstanding reporter-registrant eligibility criteria, and submit a complete application including published writing samples, a letter of recommendation, and an original essay.
Past Fellowship winners have represented the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, India and China, and for the first time in 2018, the Balkan region. For more information about the 2019 Fellowship winners and their Meeting coverage, as well as a list of all EurekAlert! Fellowship recipients since 2004, visit: http://www.
2020 EurekAlert! Fellowship Judges
Dalia AbdelSalam is an award-winning journalist based in Cairo, Egypt. She currently works for Springer Nature as a chief editor of – For Science للعِلم, the Arabic Edition of Scientific American. For 22 years, she was the Environment and Water Editor at Al Ahram Hebdo Newspaper, an Egyptian weekly newspaper in French language. AbdelSalam was a board member of the Arab Science Journalists Association (ASJA) from July 2009 to June 2011 and she co-directed the 7th World Conference for Science Journalists held in Doha, Qatar, in 2011. She also acted as a media consultant for national, regional and international organizations and as an environmental reporting trainer. Since 2006, AbdelSalam has been acting as coordinator for Northern Africa for the African Network of Environmental Journalists (ANEJ) and was chosen in October 2015 to represent the Middle East and North African region in the Orientation Council of “L’Institut de la Francophonie pour le Developpement Durable” (IFDD), based in Quebec City, Canada. AbdelSalam was a recipient of the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters in 2008 and 2010.
Nehal Lasheen is the deputy editor of the Arabic edition of SciDev.Net for the MENA region. She is the president of the Arab Science Journalists Association and was a mentor in the World Federation of Science Journalists’ mentoring project for science journalism SJCOOP2. She has a background in science journalism especially on the Internet and was the Health & Science Editor at the IslamOnline.net Arabic website for several years.
Malathy Iyer is a senior editor (health) with The Times of India, Mumbai, with over 20 years of experience. When not chasing the big outbreaks of bird flu and swine flu or tracking the emergence of total drug-resistant tuberculosis, she focuses on issues of urban health care systems and women and children with special needs.
Milica Momčilović is a science journalist and editor, author, and TV anchor at Radio Television of Serbia. She holds the position of editor in science programming and writes science articles for Politika, the oldest daily newspaper in Serbia. As a journalist in TV and print media, she has developed a special interest in establishing partnerships with scientists and their institutes as one of the models for successful reporting on science and mutual capacity building. She is the President of the World Federation of Science Journalists.
T. V. Padma is a Delhi-based science journalist, who has written extensively on science policies in India, South Asia, and developing countries. She currently writes for Nature, Nature India, New Scientist, Physics World, Chemistry World, BioWorld and The Wire. Padma began her career as a science correspondent at the Press Trust of India, where she reported on science daily and handled the production of the fortnightly PTI Science Service bulletin. She later ran development communication projects at the South Asia office of Panos Institute. In 2005, she joined SciDev.Net as its first South Asia Regional Coordinator to set up the first South Asian network of science writers. She was part of SciDev.Net’s award-winning team in 2005 that won the Association of British Science writers prize for best science reporting on the web, for their coverage of the Dec 2004 Asian tsunami. She is also a recipient of the FAO’s World Food Day prize for best reporting on health and nutrition issues in India.
Jane Qiu is an award-winning independent science writer in Beijing, contributing to publications such as Scientific American, Audubon, Nature and Science. A recipient of many prestigious fellowships–including the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT and from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting–she has covered wide-ranging topics from anthropology, conservation, life science, to geoscience. Her work has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of British Science Writers (ABVSW), the South Asian Journalists Association, and the Asia Environmental Journalism Awards.
Dr. Zixue Tai is an associate professor in the School of Journalism & Media at the University of Kentucky, where he is the Sequence Coordinator of the Media Arts and Studies program. His primary area of research pertains to the various aspects of the social, political, and cultural ramifications of the blossoming new media sector, as well as social media activism and collective action in China. The author of The Internet in China: Cyberspace and Civil Society (Routledge, hardcover released in 2006 & paperback published in 2012), Dr. Tai has published in journals such as the Journal of Communication, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, New Media & Society, Psychology & Marketing, Sociology of Health & Illness, International Communication Gazette, and Tobacco Control, among others. Additionally, he has contributed numerous chapters to edited volumes focusing on various aspects of new media and Chinese society.
Mićo Tatalović is a science journalist from Rijeka, Croatia (European Capital of Culture 2020). He was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT in 2017/2018. Before that, he worked as a news editor at New Scientist and SciDev.net. He is the chairman of the Association of British Science Writers and sits on the board of the Balkan Network of Science Journalists. He is currently UK news editor for Research Professional News.
Roxana Tabakman is an Argentinian science journalist based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. With a scientific background, she has a 30-year career as writer and editor of science and health content in newspapers, magazines, radio stations and digital media in Spain, Argentina and Brazil (La Vanguardia, La Nación, Revista NOTICIAS among others). She is the author of a book of health journalism (“La Salud en los Medios, medicina para periodistas, periodismo para medicos”) published in Spanish and Portuguese. As an educator, she teaches science and health journalism in courses and workshops in many Latin American countries (Sao Paulo University and Gabo Foundation, among others). She also engaged in Media Watch activities (in science journalism) for the Observatorio da Imprensa. More recently, she was invited by the WHO as the only health journalist to be part of the Technical Advisory Group on Caesarian Section (external ddvisor). She writes for the Spanish and Portuguese editions of Medscape (Health). As her main focus is to share her experience and mentor young journalists in Latin America, she co-founded and acts as a Content and Partnerhips Director (2019-2021) of the Brazilian Network of Science Journalists and Communicators (Redecomciência). She is also member of the Argentine Network of Science Journalists (RADPC) and Communication Director of Weizmann Institute of Science Brazilian Friends. Penguin Random House (Argentina) published in 2017 her first fiction book, “Biovigilados” (“Biomonitored”), a science and medical thriller.
Federico Kukso is an independent science journalist from Argentina. During 2016, he was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. Kukso writes regularly about science, technology, and culture for Tangible (Mexico), La Nación (Argentina), Agencia Sinc (Spain), Tec Review (Mexico), and Le Monde Diplomatique. He is the author of many popular books on science and history such as “All You Need to Know about Science,” “Bathrooms Weren’t Always Like This,” and “Dinosaurs of The End of The World.” He is a board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists. He was a winner of the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters alongside several other Latin American science journalists in 2011.
Nicolas Luco is a Chilean journalist. He is now retired and writes a weekly column for El Mercurio newspaper, where he edited the Science and Technology Section for two decades previous. He participated as a counsellor to the Senate Commission “The challenges of the future” and is a member of the Chilean Science Journalists Association.
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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances, Science Immunology, and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For more information, visit http://www.