2021 EurekAlert! fellowships highlight the importance of reporting on real-world connections, impact


IMAGE: Clockwise from bottom left: the winners of the 2021 EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters are Mouttasem Albarodi (Egypt), Bruno Vaiano (Brazil), Luyi Xu (China), Panos Tsimboukis (Greece), and Vishwam…
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Credit: EurekAlert!/AAAS

Five early-career science journalists have been selected for the 2021 EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters. The winners, from China, India, Greece, Egypt, and Brazil, were chosen by an independent panel of judges.

EurekAlert! is a news release distribution platform operated by the nonprofit American Association for the Association of Science (AAAS). The platform, which marks its 25th anniversary this summer, was created to facilitate the sharing and independent reporting of scientific research. Supported by content submission fees and free for working journalists to use, EurekAlert! has served tens of thousands of science journalists, publishers, and research institutions worldwide through its distribution service and other mission-driven programs.

Fellowship winners will receive travel and accommodation support for in-person attendance of a future AAAS Annual Meeting of their choice. The 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting was held virtually in February; the 2022 Meeting will be hybrid, with in-person components held in Philadelphia.

“Broad communication of science lies at the heart of everything we do at EurekAlert! – from serving reporters and press officers in 99 countries to delivering public information officer workshops in China ,” said Jennifer Holshue, EurekAlert!’s Deputy Director of Editorial Operations who oversees the fellowship prog ram. “The early-career reporter fellowship program, now in its 17th year, helps to further underscore our mission to foster science journalism globally, and AAAS’s overarching goal of advancing science and serving society.”

The winners of the 2021 fellowships are:

  • Mouttasem Albarodi, freelance, Egypt
  • Vishwam Sankaran, The Independent, India
  • Panos Tsimboukis, TO VIMA, Greece
  • Bruno Vaiano, Superinteressante, Brazil
  • Luyi Xu, Caixin Media, China

Egypt-based winner Mouttasem Albarodi has held a variety of science communication roles already in his short career – the most unique being “meme creator” for PopSci Arabia, where he produced viral images explaining complex scientific concepts. Currently, he freelances for outlets including SciDev.net MENA edition and Scientific American-Arabic edition. It was his science blogging hobby during school that caught the interest of a senior science editor at a local media outlet – and opened the door to science journalism.

“Receiving the EurekAlert! fellowship is a long-awaited step for me. Throughout the past two years, EurekAlert! has helped me find new stories and get connected to researchers and public information officers around the world, ” he said. “Being a EurekAlert! fellow will further allow me to meet new peers in the field; this will eventually open new paths in my career and motivate me to grow and learn new skills.”

Vishwam Sankaran, a science reporter with The Independent from India who is non-binary, realized at age 21 that they wanted to be a science writer. They “have known that one important milestone would be to become a EurekAlert! International Science Reporting Fellow.”

Like Albarodi, blogging about research studies was a fun pastime for Sankaran and an introduction to science communication. Halfway through their undergraduate program in biotechnology, Sankaran started attending science events and reading popular science books; it was then when they realized their passion was for understanding and sharing science, especially stories about the “human interest” side of science, rather than making a career in a lab.

“I look forward to interacting widely with scientists and journalists to understand what barriers exist in free and equitable access to opportunities in science and technology, and to laying spotlight on the scientists themselves and the journeys they have had to take to find results in their latest studies,” said Sankaran.

For Panos Tsimboukis, a science reporter with Greece’s TO VIMA newspaper, the fellowship is an opportunity to broaden his network and learn to tell more inclusive stories.

“I will be very happy to meet science journalists from all over the world and from diverse media outlets who seek to find new ways to cover topics at the intersection of science and society,” he said. “The AAAS Annual Meeting is a real opportunity for me to expand my horizons since it is a worldwide recognized conference gathering scientists, policy makers and science journalists.”

The AAAS Annual Meeting is “a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work side by side with world-class journalists,” said Bruno Vaiano, a Sao Paulo-based science journalist with Superinteressante, Latin America’s highest-circulation popular science magazine. “It will be fun to write around the clock and post fresh news to my readers back home – that’s the kind of thrill journalists look for. But it is the learning that makes me the happiest: I will return from the trip with a lot of ideas, facts, and sources to fuel future (and better) stories.”

Luyi Xu, with China’s Caixin Media, echoed Vaiano’s sentiments. “As a science reporter, I often feel there is a ‘student’ still living inside me, continuing asking questions out of curiosity or public interest. Undeniably, earning [the fellowship] will be a unique experience in my career, while at the same time pushing me to meet with top minds and to fill my knowledge gap, just like at school.”

Added Vaiano, “Covering a AAAS Annual Meeting is a unique opportunity to become a better teacher – and a better student.”

Special attention toward the impacts science can have on people’s lives emerged as a common thread in the works of this year’s winners. Veteran science journalists serving as judges for the fellowship highlighted the ways science intersects with – and influences – other major facets of society, and why this elevates the need for robust and accessible science journalism at this particular moment in history.

“Scientific research, new technologies, environment and climate change, these aren’t just science stories,” said fellowship judge Milica Momčilović, president of the World Federation of Science Journalists. “They play a major role in key political, economic, cultural and social policy discussions, as well as in public dialogue. Science issues are especially important to cover nowadays.”

Malathy Iyer, senior editor of health coverage for The Times of India who has judged for the program since 2015, cited the tangible benefits of a better scientifically informed populace. In India, for example, relatively simple evidence-based interventions would help reduce dengue and malaria outbreaks, but there is a dearth of public awareness about how people themselves can implement those steps to tamp down the mosquito-borne diseases and the havoc they cause.

“There is a need to inculcate scientific temperament among the people, and regular reporting on scientific facts, discoveries, and developments is much needed in our news publications,” Iyer said. “Science reporting can help spread awareness and act as an instrument of social change that is desperately needed in our country.”

Brazil-based science journalist Roxana Tabakman described the dire need for science journalism in debunking misinformation that threatens social stability. “There was a time when we needed more trained journalists to explain complex information to lay people,” she said. “But now, the underdevelopment of science journalism has broader consequences.”

“In Brazil, inaccuracies or even science denial work through attacks on the credibility of experts’ data. Government public pronouncements disqualify the work of scientists on COVID-19 related information, climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, the increasing burden of noncommunicable diseases, among others,” said Tabakman, who has reviewed entries from Latin America. “In the face of the exponential growth of misinformation epidemics, good science journalism, with fresh ideas, is necessary to provide equitable access to good information within any political bubble. It can be a way to reduce misinformation’s harmful effects on society.”

According to University of Kentucky associate professor Zixue Tai, the interplay between science and society is also being felt in China. “China has been at the front of nations in the pace of scientific progress and technological change in the new millennium. Reporting and making sense of science has never been more important to the general public caught in the woes of this unprecedented transformation in the country.” Tai is the longest-serving fellowship judge , having worked with the program since its founding in 2004.

Biographies of the 2021 Fellowship Winners

Mouttasem Albarodi (@MouttasemA)

Freelance | Egypt

Mouttasem Albarodi is a science writer from Egypt. He started gravitating towards science journalism when he began blogging in his final year of university. After earning his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, Mouttasem’s blog captured the interest of a senior science editor at a local media outlet, and that was the start of his journalism career. Thereafter, he contributed to several science journalism outlets and initiatives. One of these experiences was as “meme creator” at Popsci Arabia, where he produced memes that communicated complex scientific concepts. Currently, Mouttasem freelances for several science news outlets including Scidev.net MENA edition and Scientific American-Arabic edition where he covers stories on genomic medicine, life sciences, public health, and science policy. He has a longstanding interest in investigative and data journalism. In his free time, Mouttasem’s activities include kayaking in the Nile and cycling.

Vishwam Sankaran (@Social3uScience)

The Independent | India

Vishwam Sankaran is a science and technology reporter based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, and currently writes for The Independent. They found a passion for science news through reading and blogging about research studies as a hobby, which continued throughout their undergraduate program in biotechnology. After participating in several university science events and reading books by other science writers, they realized that their passion lay more in science communication than in lab work. After graduating, Vishwam freelanced for outlets including The Life of Science and The Wire Science, while pursuing a post-graduate diploma in journalism. After a fellowship with the tech media company The Next Web, they began a full-time science reporting job with The Press Trust of India. Vishwam enjoys listening to podcasts, playing video games, and reading. Vishwam is passionate about understanding the latest emerging trends in all fields of science, technology, environment, and health, and how they shape society.

Panos Tsimboukis (@labodenuit)

TO VIMA | Greece

Panos Tsimboukis has been working as a science journalist with the national Greek newspaper TO VIMA for the last two years, after studying biology and epigenetics. His passion for communicating science led him to pursue, in parallel with his work, a master’s degree in science communication at the University of Grenoble, France. He is also for now part of laboratory i3 of Télécom Paris, Institut Polytechnique de Paris. The lab studies, among others, the public controversies regarding technological innovations and how these innovations are perceived in the public sphere. This work reflects an era where technologies like 5G, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence permeate everyday life.

Bruno Vaiano (@hungryeyebrows)

Superinterresante | Brazil

Bruno Vaiano is a science writer based in São Paulo, Brazil. He has a degree in journalism from the University of São Paulo (USP) and has worked full-time since 2018 for Superinteressante, Latin America’s highest-circulation popular science magazine – first as a staff writer, then as an editor. There, he does daily online coverage, writes and edits longer features and infographics for the print issues, and oversees the Instagram account. From subatomic particles to black holes, his beats vary in several orders of magnitude. He came first in the Brazilian Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA) 2020 Science Writing Awards. He was a trainee at the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the popular science magazine Galileu, and the Vice-Provost’s Office for Research at USP. In his free time, Bruno plays the bass guitar and gets defeated by chess bots.

Luyi Xu

Caixin Media | China

Luyi Xu obtained her bachelor’s degree in economics from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China, and her master’s degree in journalism at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Her reporting interests include astrophysics, life science, and climate change science, as well as applied areas like space telescopes, gene editing, brain-computer interfaces, and the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. Other topics important to Luyi involve academic integrity and a self-correcting science publishing system. Also, with the #MeToo movement’s entrance into Chinese society via its top universities, Luyi also cares about misuse of power and gender equality within the science community.

About the Fellowships

Established in 2004 with a seed grant from the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation and sponsored by EurekAlert!, the AAAS-operated science-news service, the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters support early-career science reporters from emerging economies in the Global South by providing them with opportunities to cover the latest research and network with peers from around the world at AAAS Annual Meetings. Applicants must have five years or less of professional science journalism experience, meet EurekAlert!’s longstanding reporter-registrant eligibility criteria, and submit a complete application including published writing samples, a letter of recommendation, and an original essay.

Past Fellowship winners have represented the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, India, China, and the Balkan region. For more information about the 2021 Fellowship winners and their Meeting coverage, as well as a list of all EurekAlert! Fellowship recipients since 2004, visit: http://www.eurekalert.org/fellows.

2021 EurekAlert! Fellowship Judges

Dalia AbdelSalam is an award-winning journalist based in Cairo, Egypt. She currently works for Springer Nature as a chief editor of – For Science ??????, the Arabic Edition of Scientific American. For 22 years, she was the Environment and Water Editor at Al Ahram Hebdo Newspaper, an Egyptian weekly newspaper in French language. AbdelSalam was a board member of the Arab Science Journalists Association (ASJA) from July 2009 to June 2011 and she co-directed the 7th World Conference for Science Journalists held in Doha, Qatar, in 2011. She also acted as a media consultant for national, regional and international organizations and as an environmental reporting trainer. Since 2006, AbdelSalam has been acting as coordinator for Northern Africa for the African Network of Environmental Journalists (ANEJ) and was chosen in October 2015 to represent the Middle East and North African region in the Orientation Council of “L’Institut de la Francophonie pour le Developpement Durable” (IFDD), based in Quebec City, Canada. AbdelSalam was a recipient of the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters in 2008 and 2010.

Dr. Luis Fernando Correia is an internal medicine physician, health journalist, and commentator. His program, “Saúde em Foco,” is broadcast on Radio CBN. He is also a health correspondent for TV Globo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Nehal Lasheen is the deputy editor of the Arabic edition of SciDev.Net for the MENA region. She is the president of the Arab Science Journalists Association and was a mentor in the World Federation of Science Journalists’ mentoring project for science journalism SJCOOP2. She has a background in science journalism especially on the Internet and was the Health & Science Editor at the IslamOnline.net Arabic website for several years.

Malathy Iyer is Senior Editor (Health) with The Times of India, Mumbai. She has reported extensively on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as on India’s perennial health problems such as TB and HIV. She also focuses on the lack of access to healthcare for those marginalized on the basis of wealth, gender and mental health problems.

Milica Momčilović is a science journalist. She holds the position of editor in the science program at the Radio/Television of Serbia (RTS) and writes for the daily newspaper Politika and popular science magazine Elementi. Through her special coverage of international science events and interviews, Milica has obtained a rich experience and strong knowledge of scientific issues and challenges internationally. Milica is the President of World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), a multinational charity dedicated to advancing science journalism and communication through a wide variety of activities with universities, governments, and NGOs, to promote standards and the role of science journalists as key players in civil society and democracy.

T. V. Padma is a Delhi-based science journalist, who has written extensively on science policies in India, South Asia, and developing countries. She currently writes for a mix of international and national publications. Padma began her career as a science correspondent at the Press Trust of India, where she reported on science daily and handled the production of the fortnightly PTI Science Service bulletin. She later ran development communication projects at the South Asia office of Panos Institute. In 2005, she joined SciDev.Net as its first South Asia Regional Coordinator to set up the first South Asian network of science writers. She was part of SciDev.Net’s award-winning team in 2005 that won the Association of British Science writers prize for best science reporting on the web, for their coverage of the Dec 2004 Asian tsunami. She is also a recipient of the FAO’s World Food Day prize for best reporting on health and nutrition issues in India.

Jane Qiu is an award-winning independent science writer in Beijing, contributing to publications such as Scientific American, Audubon, Nature and Science. A recipient of many prestigious fellowships–including the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT and from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting–she has covered wide-ranging topics from anthropology, conservation, life science, to geoscience. Her work has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of British Science Writers (ABVSW), the South Asian Journalists Association, and the Asia Environmental Journalism Awards.

Dr. Zixue Tai is an associate professor in the School of Journalism & Media at the University of Kentucky, where he heads is the Media Arts and Studies program. His primary area of research focuses on new media in China. The author of The Internet in China: Cyberspace and Civil Society (Routledge, hardcover released in 2006 & paperback published in 2012), Dr. Tai has published in leading media and communication journals such as the Journal of Communication, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, New Media & Society, Psychology & Marketing, Sociology of Health & Illness, International Communication Gazette, and Convergence.

Mićo Tatalović is a science journalist from Rijeka, Croatia (European Capital of Culture 2020-21). He was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT in 2017/2018. Before that, he worked as a news editor at New Scientist and SciDev.Net. He is the immediate past chairman of the Association of British Science Writers and sits on the board of the Balkan Network of Science Journalists, and of the European Federation for Science Journalism. He is currently UK news editor for Research Professional News.

Roxana Tabakman is an Argentinian science journalist based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. With a scientific background, she has a 30-year career as writer and editor of science and health content in Spain, Argentina and Brazil. She published in La Vanguardia, La Nación, Revista Noticias among others and she is now medical writer at Medscape Spanish and Portuguese editions. Author of a health journalism book (“A saúde na Mídia, Medicina para jornalistas, jornalismo para medicos,” the Brazilian edition), she also wrote the Health Journalism chapter of the 2021 Health Without Harm Guide to journalistic coverage of Health and Climate Change. She co-founded and was member of the 1st board (2019-2021) of the Brazilian Network of Science Journalists and Communicators (Redecomciência) and is an active member of the Argentine Network of Science Journalists (RADPC). She teaches Science Journalism and Communication at many Latin American workshops or courses including Sao Paulo University and Parana Federal University in Brazil, Gabo Foundation in Colombia and Latin America, National Forum for Scientific Journalism and Communication of Perú and Colombia, National Secretariat of Science and Technology of Guatemala. She represented Latin American science journalists in global meetings as WHO Technical Advisory Group on Caesarian Section, Aspen Global Science Congress on Scientific Thinking and Action, Science Journalism Forum 2020 among others. She started a fiction writer career with a science-based thriller “Biovigilados” (“Biomonitored”), published by Penguin Random House Argentina. On a voluntary basis, she is the Communication Director for the Weizmann Institute of Science Brazilian Friends.

Federico Kukso is an independent science journalist from Argentina. During 2016, he was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. Kukso writes regularly about science, technology, and culture for Tangible (Mexico), La Nación (Argentina), Agencia Sinc (Spain), Tec Review (Mexico), and Le Monde Diplomatique. He is the author of many popular books on science and history such as “All You Need to Know about Science,” “Bathrooms Weren’t Always Like This,” and “Dinosaurs of The End of The World.” He is a board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists. He was a winner of the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters alongside several other Latin American science journalists in 2011.

Nicolás Luco is a Chilean journalist. He is now retired and writes a weekly column for El Mercurio newspaper, where he edited the Science and Technology Section for two decades previous. He participates as a counsellor to the Senate Commission “The challenges of the future” and is a member of the Chilean Science Journalists Association.

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About EurekAlert!

Founded by AAAS in 1996, EurekAlert! is an editorially independent, online science-news service. Thousands of reporters around the globe use EurekAlert! to access news and resources from the world’s top academic journals and research organizations. For free access to EurekAlert!, visit http://www.EurekAlert.org. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances, Science Immunology, and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For more information, visit http://www.aaas.org.



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