Northern California Science Writers Association

November 2011 Newsletter for the Northern California Science Writers Association

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 10:46 PM | Anonymous
NCSWA’s Coming Attraction:

Holiday Dinner with Cris Benton
Professor of Architecture, UC Berkeley

Intimate Aerials: Photography using Kite-Lofted Cameras
Join us for Middle Eastern food with a NorCal twist and a speaker who's above the rest (literally) at our annual holiday shindig. Cris Benton's talk will chronicle 15 years of aerial photography using kite-lofted cameras that offer a fresh perspective of familiar landscapes in ways that challenge our spatial sensibilities. The technique yields images from a range of altitudes (10-300 feet above the ground) that are too low for conventional aircraft. Benton will show examples from the Bay Area including the South San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds that are being restored as wetlands. His talk will touch on the history of aerial photography, the equipment and techniques used and motivations for using kites in today. As an art form or a remote sensing tool, Cris' low-level approach yields images that are both beautiful and useful. Click on the following link for more information.

Miss the Oct. 4 dinner meeting with Colin Milburn? Read about it here:

NCSWA members gathered at Pyramid Ale House in Berkeley to hear Colin Milburn, a UC Davis professor, talk about whether science fiction leads the way to scientific discovery. Milburn described how our culture influences the direction of scientific research, with molecular biologists and nanotechnology researchers exploiting unique properties of video games to run innovative experiments. 

Coming Award Deadlines:

Entries for the National Association of Science Writers annual Science in Society Journalism Award are due by Feb. 1, 2012, for material published or broadcast in 2011. Entry forms will be available at beginning in December. Click on the following NASW link for more information, where you can also see the 2010 rules and entry categories, and scroll down for each previous year's winners.

Nominations for the American Geophysical Union’s annual awards contest for excellence in science journalism open on Jan. 15, 2012, with a deadline of March 15.
The AGU’s David Perlman Award, named for San Francisco Chronicle’s science reporter, recognizes work published with deadline pressure of one week or less and comes with a stipend of $5,000. The AGU’s Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence is given for science feature writing, defined as work prepared with a deadline of more than one week. For more information, visit the AGU’s site and fill in the window for a keyword search with “science journalism.”

Journalists from all media are invited to submit entries in January for the seventh annual Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment, which awards $75,000 to the top winner. Up to three additional entries will receive $5,000 awards of special merit. Book entries must be postmarked by Jan. 9, 2012, and all other entries by Jan. 30. More information is available at .

Entries for the Thomas L. Stokes Award for Best Energy Writing, sponsored by the National Press Foundation, are due by Jan. 31, 2012. The competition has a $1,000 award and citation for best analysis, commentary or reporting on the subject of energy and natural resources, in any form undefined oil, gas, coal, nuclear, water, solar, etc. The work must have been published in the U.S. between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. Visit the website at for details.

NCSWA About Town:

--Robert Adler wrote the cover story for New Scientist’s Nov. 26 issue, on the different kinds of “multiverses” we might live in, including our own universe and the multitude of string-theory universes. Check it out online if you have a subscription, or you may find a print copy at Barnes & Noble stores, Robert says.

--Judith Horstman will publish her third book (in a series of four) on the brain for Scientific American, in late December. Titled “The Scientific American Book of Love, Sex and the Brain: The Neuroscience of How, When, Why and Who We Love,”  the book will be available on at

--Janet Byron and Robin Meadows are writing a fun field guide to California agriculture called “What’s That Crop?” Designed to help us identify crops at 65 miles per hour, their book will be published by Heyday. Until then, you can follow along on Facebook at , on Tumblr at http://whatsthatcrop.tumblr and Twitter at .

--Norm Sperling, editor of the Journal of Irreproducible Results, reports that his latest paperback, “Don’t Try This in High School,” was published in May. Topics in the biology section include “Insect Rights” and “Budgies as Weapons,” while the math section has “Rebuttal to Multiplication” and another section has “Deep Space Hand Salutes.” A book description is available on Sperling’s blog at 

--Mark Shwartz left the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University in August to become communications/energy writer at Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy,

--Andy Freeberg has started work as the media manager in the office of communications at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford. NCSWA members who have any questions about SLAC are welcome to contact him at .

--Paul Kleyman of New American Media just returned from a Boston meeting where NAM collaborated with the Gerontological Society of America to conduct a program on aging for 16 journalists from the ethnic and mainstream media. The program, supported by $100,000 from the MetLife Foundation, provided each reporter with a $1,500 stipend plus meeting trip expenses. For a list of the second-year fellows, including some from Northern California, visit

--Christine Heinrichs attended the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in Miami, including the post-conference tour of the Keys. She participated in the release of a rehabilitated loggerhead sea turtle from The Turtle Hospital on Marathon Key. Visit the photos and videos she posted at

New Members:

Suzanne Spong, associate director for cell biology at Fibrinogen, who is hoping to get more involved in science writing.

Hemai Parthasarathy of San Francisco

Eric Katz of Oakland

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