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Two Journalists Honored with New WHOI Ocean Science Journalism Award

October 8, 2003

Two veteran journalists today received the first Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Science Journalism Award for their contributions to the public understanding of oceanography. The award, which comes with a $5,000 cash prize and memento, was presented in two categories, print and broadcast journalism, at ceremonies at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City.

Alastair Fothergill of the BBC’s Natural History Unit was honored in the broadcast category as series producer for Blue Planet: Seas of Life. Robert Kunzig, a freelance writer for Discover, US News & World Report and other publications, was honored for his book Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Ocean Science Journalism Award was created to recognize an outstanding record of achievement in communicating ocean science to the public. It is intended to honor work that has made a significant and lasting contribution to public awareness and understanding of issues and advances in ocean science, and its impact on society as a whole.

Alastair Fothergill was educated at Harrow School and the Universities of St. Andrew’s and Durham with a degree in zoology and joined the BBC Natural History Unit in 1983. He has worked on a wide range of programs, including Sir David Attenborough’s series Trials of Life and Life in the Freezer. In November 1992, at age 32, he was named the youngest ever head of the Natural History Unit, stepping down in June 1998 to concentrate on his role as series producer of the eight-part Blue Planet: Seas of Life. In 2001 he was named Director of Development for the Natural History Unit and is working on Deep Blue, a cinematic view of the world’s oceans, He is also series producer for the Unit’s next major series, Planet Earth, described as “the ultimate portrait of our planet.”

Rob Kunzig received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the history of science from Harvard University, where he helped start a student science magazine. After working for environmental newsletters and The Economist, he moved into science writing in 1983 as an editor at Scientific American. In 1987 he moved to Discover magazine, working as senior editor, news editor, executive editor, and finally, until the end of 2001, as European editor. He is now a freelance correspondent covering science for Discover, US News & World Report, and other magazines. Kunzig’s magazine articles have won awards from the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His book, Mapping the Deep, published in 2000, was released in an earlier form as The Restless Sea, published in 1999. He lives in Dijon, France, with his wife and two children.

WHOI is a private, independent marine research and engineering, and higher education organization located in Falmouth, MA. Its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, the Institution is organized into five scientific departments, interdisciplinary research institutes and a marine policy center, and conducts a joint graduate education program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.