Nsikan Akpan and Matt Ehrichs Named Recipients of 2016 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Silver Award

Washington, DC (November 16, 2016) — PBS NewsHour digital science producer Nsikan Akpan and Student Reporting Labs producer Matt Ehrichs today were named recipients of a 2016 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Silver Award for their first installment of the NewsHour series ScienceScope that looked at the physics of how smells move in our environment. The digital short also featured a print and on-air component and will be recognized in the television spot news/feature reporting category of the science journalism competition. PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien’s two-part series on advancements in robotic arms technology earned a 2015 AAAS Kavli Silver Award in the same category.

In “What a smell looks like,” Akpan takes viewers to an engineering lab at the University of Colorado Boulder that uses lasers to bring odors to life. The experiment allows the researchers to visualize odors as they move through space, an innovation that could help train dogs – or robots – in rescue missions.

“We’re drawn to stories about the journey of scientific discovery, rather than the end result,” Akpan said of the ScienceScope series. “This story featured an incipient project trying to answer a simple question — How does smell guide the brain? — by uniting scientists from myriad disciplines, like fluid mechanics, neuroscience and computation.”

Ehrichs added, “We wanted to make something different but still respect the science. We knew in this evolving industry that we had to push the envelope to make something full of energy yet quickly digestible.”

“It’s been a turbulent week for us at the PBS NewsHour with the passing of our co-anchor and managing editor Gwen Ifill. Her creativity and work ethic inspired our efforts, as she did for so many of us. We would like to dedicate this prize to her memory,” Akpan and Ehrichs said.

The awards, announced by AAAS and given out annually since 1945, will be presented at the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, in February.

A full list of recipients can be found here.