The 2021 SANDSWA Writing Award

We are pleased to announce the inaugural 2021 SANDSWA Writing Awards. The competition is open to all SANDSWA members, and there are four categories: Best Traditional Media Story; Best Institutional Writing; Best Multimedia Piece; and Best Student Writing Assignment.

Winners receive a free SANDSWA membership for the upcoming year. The Best Student Writing Assignment winner will receive free registration for the next NASW annual meeting.

The deadline to apply is July 1. Please, submit no more than one entry per category. Here are some more details:

Best Traditional Media Story – This category is for journalistic work published in a traditional media outlet such as a newspaper, magazine or online news service. Entries should feature original reporting, and should have publication dates between June 2020 and June 2021. Submit a Piece

Best Institutional Writing – This category is for work such as press releases or institutional publications that report on or promote the work of an institution, such as a university, nonprofit organization or business. The work should have a publication date between June 2020 and June 2021. Submit a Piece

Best Multimedia Piece – This category is for science reporting or science communication that is presented primarily in a non-written format, such as podcasts, infographics or videos. The piece should have a publication date between June 2020 and June 2021. Submit a Piece

Best Student Writing Assignment – This category is for a science reporting or communication project (either written or multimedia) that was completed as part of a class assignment. The work should have been completed between June 2020 and June 2021. Submissions can be made on behalf of a student. All students of science writing coursework in San Diego County are eligible to participate. Submit a Piece

Dr. Jenni Brandon: Microplastics Pioneer and Ocean Advocate

By Nicole Woolcock

A curious, shining object glimmers through the tentacle-like arms of a knotted pile of kelp along the beach. Upon further inspection of the object, a pang of sadness dims the original excitement of coming across an interesting beach find. This is not a dazzling sea treasure but a piece of discarded trash. 

“Often the plastic you pick up on the beach is something you’ve used and thrown away without thinking about it,” says Dr. Jenni Brandon, biological oceanographer and microplastics expert at Applied Ocean Sciences, “so you feel personally guilty for the problem.” She explains that microplastics—tiny pieces of plastic often undetected by the human eye—are found everywhere, including our oceans, food sources, wind, and sediment. This means we are ingesting microplastics every day.

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SANDSWA Racial Justice Statement

The board of the San Diego Science Writers Association (SANDSWA) condemns violence and racism, and we are angered by the increase in hate crimes across our country targeting communities of color.

In the past year, there have been 3,800 reported anti-Asian racist incidents — only a fraction of the incidents that actually occur due to underreporting — and women comprised 68% of those reports. On March 16, mass shootings at three different businesses in the Atlanta, Georgia area left eight people dead, six of whom were women of Asian descent. These women were Hyun Jung Grant, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park and Yong Ae Yue. Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels were also killed in the attacks. 

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3 Easy Ways to Find Diverse Sources for Your Stories (or Press Releases)

By Monica May


Many of us want to include more people who are underrepresented in science in our stories, but may not know where to begin. 

To help this process become easier—and hopefully at some point second nature—SANDSWA’s Social Justice in Science Writing club recently read the Open Notebook piece “Finding Diverse Sources for Science Stories” and brainstormed ways to incorporate these ideas into our daily work. 

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SANDSWA book club recap: The Perfect Predator by Steffanie Strathdee

By Deborah Bright

My husband found out he had cancer for the third time at the age of 25. I didn’t know him then, and I’ll be forever grateful to the team of doctors at the Mayo Clinic for saving his life. But even though he’s been cancer-free for five years now, he still wakes up with debilitating stomach pain most mornings. It’s left him unable to work and constantly searching for a sense of purpose. I often find myself wishing I could cure him. The Perfect Predator by Steffanie Strathdee inspired me to try. 

Continue reading “SANDSWA book club recap: The Perfect Predator by Steffanie Strathdee”