MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing
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Congratulations to Ashley Smart of Undark and Stephen Ornes, ’06, for winning 2023 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards. Ashley, a senior editor at Undark and an instructor who teaches opinion writing in the MIT Graduate Program in Science Journalism, won a Gold Award in the Science Reporting, In-Depth category for “A Field at a Crossroads: Genetics and Racial Mythmaking,” a feature that explores how geneticists weigh the risks and consequences of their work against a broader backdrop of scientific racism.

“Smart has marshaled the history of science to frame how deeply racialist misconceptions remain embedded in contemporary medical and public health research, especially through genome-wide association studies,” Robert Lee Hotz, science journalist and president of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, said in a press release. “This is science that unsettles scientists, even those who are pioneering it.”

The piece is part of “Long Division,” a much bigger journalistic project at Undark that explores the history of race science and efforts to dismantle it. The project, helmed by Ashley and Angela Saini, who teaches race and equity within the GPSW, won a 2023 Salute to Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, was a finalist for a 2023 National Magazine Award, and won an Online Journalism Award in the Topical Reporting: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Identity category.

Stephen Ornes, ’06, also added another AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award to his collection. Stephen won a Silver Award in the Children’s Science News category for “Some ecologists value parasites ― and now want a plan to save them,” a story published in Science News Explores that covers parasites that are on the verge of extinction and why some scientists are on a mission to save them.

The piece is “an enthralling peek into the world of parasites, a counter-intuitive glimpse into how scientists investigate the natural world,” said Dan Vergano, senior opinion editor at Scientific American.

Stephen has won AAAS Kavli awards twice before in 2021 and 2015, both times in the Children’s Science News category.