OPB Science & Environment Reporter Jes Burns has been selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as a winner of their 2020 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards. The awards recognize distinguished science reporting for a general audience.
She was honored for her work on the video “A Beautiful New Blue Makes Its Debut,” which she wrote and produced earlier this spring. The video was selected as a gold winner in the “Spot News/Feature Reporting” category for videos that are 20 minutes or less.
“A Beautiful New Blue Makes Its Debut” is an engaging segment that explains how Mas Subramanian and his team at Oregon State University discovered a new shade of blue. Burns recounted the history of YInMn Blue’s discovery and development. The new color was first created when a graduate student on Subramanian’s team heated manganese oxide for an unrelated experiment. The surprising result was a vibrant new shade of blue that is extremely stable and uniquely suited for commercial use.
Burns was captivated by the science behind the new blue pigment. "When I met the scientist involved, " she said, “I knew it was a story I wanted to tell – one about the thrill of discovery, the wonder of curiosity and the beautiful and unexpected connections that happen when you explore.”
Among the positive response to her video: “I was blown away by the new blue,” said freelance journalist and author Angela Saini, “Such a clever little segment, made better by a great interviewee, reminding us that local science reporting is sometimes the best.”
The video includes “just the right amount of science to understand the nature of the discovery without overwhelming the viewer,” said France 24 reporter Mairead Dundas. Tony Bartelme, projects reporter for The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina agreed, calling the story “a beautifully told piece about a color that will leave you thinking differently about blue and other colors.”
The 2020 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards program is endowed by The Kavli Foundation and open to journalists worldwide, is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2020. There were entries from 54 countries this year.
Burns and other award winners will receive their awards in a virtual ceremony held in conjunction with the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting in February.