By Daniel Carleton
Do you know of a science journalist whose writing stands out in capturing your interest? This year, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) Communications Committee is launching the Darlene Schmidt Science News Award named for one of ANS’s most dedicated and beloved employees from the 1980s to the early ’90s. The purpose of this award is to acknowledge journalists and reporters who provide accurate, innovative, and well-researched science coverage for the general public. Being able to effectively communicate scientific ideas and the merits of nuclear energy to the general public is vital to the success of ANS. To encourage accurate scientific journalism, this award will acknowledge a writer who embodies these important characteristics.
While at ANS, Darlene Schmidt worked as the manager of educational outreach programs. It was a job she was well-qualified for as she had received a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1965. She often wrote for ANS News and had a reputation for being passionate and hardworking. One of her main focuses at ANS was enabling K-12 teachers to effectively communicate the benefits of nuclear energy to their students.
Darlene contributed to ANS’s K-12 education effort by inaugurating the ReActions newsletter, which provided guidance to teachers on the subject of nuclear energy in the classroom. The ReActions newsletter included instructions on carrying out classroom experiments which were designed to help students better understand the benefits of nuclear energy and bolster their interest. Today, ReActions continues to bring teachers ideas and inspiration for teaching nuclear science.
Darlene also coordinated teacher workshops nationwide, where local university professors would provide useful teaching material on nuclear energy to K-12 educators. These DOE-supported workshops lasted five days during the summer and were typically located at a university or hosted through an ANS student section. ANS and its sections continue to conduct teacher workshops throughout the U.S. and have reached thousands of teachers.
Darlene’s efforts made a significant difference, but sadly, she passed away in November 12,1992, after a three-year battle with cancer, at the age of 49.
The decision to name this award after Darlene is to commemorate her hard work and substantial contributions in bolstering effective scientific journalism. The more nominations submitted, the more successful this award will be.
What can you do? To show your appreciation of exemplary scientific journalism, the Communications Committee encourages all ANS members to look for stand-out journalists in their own news consumption and nominate those who demonstrate excellent reporting efforts in technical fields. Nominations should only take a few minutes and the requirements for nominees are shown below. The deadline for submission is Friday, September 1, 2017.
- Entries must have been published or broadcast in print, online or on the air by a media outlet intended for the general public. Articles in scientific or professional journals or exclusively for a scientific professional readership will not be considered.
- To ensure relevancy of the award, articles must have been published in 2016 or 2017.
- Entries may be authored by individual reporters or by more than one contributor to an individual piece or series.
- No entry fee is required.
- Nominations can be submitted by all ANS members. Permission from the author(s) or media outlet is not required. Nominees will be informed in advance of the award only if they are selected as finalists.
- The selected honoree(s) should be available to travel to attend at least one day of the ANS Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., October 29–November 2, 2017.
Feel free to reach out to the Communications Committee if you have any questions about the award or selection process.
Since September 2014, Daniel Carleton has worked as a project administrator for Terrestrial Energy USA based in New York, NY. His responsibilities include administering government funding applications for research and development of the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR®) design. Daniel is part of the ANS Social Media Team. He has been an ANS member and in the Young Members Group since August 2016.