MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing
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The National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation’s list of 2022 award finalists includes three GPSW journalists in the Digital Media category.

Kelso Harper, ’21, joins journalists Kit R. Roane, Brian Kamerzel, Kyra Darnton, Chris Buck, and Jeffrey DelViscio as part of a collaborative team from the documentary news organization Retro Report and Scientific American. Their documentary “What’s in a Number? Some Research Shows That a Lower B.M.I. Isn’t Always Better” and accompanying Scientific American story examine how assumptions about weight and body size impact research around obesity and medical information that people accept as true. The project builds on previous reporting Kelso completed for her GPSW thesis on anti-fat bias.

Continuing her hot streak, Lisa Song, ’09, also landed on the NIHCM finalist list as part of team that included Al Shaw, Lylla Younes, Ava Kofman, Max Blau, Kiah Collier, Ken Ward, Jr., Alyssa Johnson, Maya Miller, Lucas Waldron, and Kathleen Flynn. Their project, “Sacrifice Zones: Mapping Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution,” included an extensive data analysis of more than 1,000 hot spots of toxic industrial air pollution across the United States and an interactive map that allows those living near these sites to estimate their air pollution risk. Published as part of a collaboration between ProPublica, The Texas Tribune, and Mountain State Spotlight, the piece showcases how the EPA created “sacrifice zones” where overlooked communities near toxic manufacturing plants bear disproportionate health costs. In addition to landing an NIHCM finalist spot, “Sacrifice Zones” is also a finalist for a 2022 National Magazine Award and the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

James Dinneen, ’22, also earned a finalist spot alongside coauthor Alexander Kennedy. Their Undark Magazine piece, “Below Aging U.S. Dams, a Potential Toxic Calamity,” identified more than 80 dams across the United States that could potentially flood a major toxic waste site and spread contaminants across unprepared communities. The story is also a finalist for a 2022 National Magazine Award.

Congratulations Kelso, Lisa, and James!