SEJ's Fund for Environmental Journalism Awards Grants to Journalists in Three Reporting Categories

The Fund for Environmental Journalism awards
$43,683 in grants to journalists in the Summer 2015 cycle


In the Summer 2015 cycle of the Fund for Environmental Journalism, SEJ awarded $43,683 in grants to 11 journalism projects in three reporting categories.

The Fund for Environmental Journalism offers professional journalists opportunities to apply for grants of up to $5,000 through two funding cycles each year. Application deadlines are July 15 and November 15 annually. Since 2010, the Fund has distributed $156,831 in grants, making it possible for journalists to produce 68 story projects on important issues impacting the environment that might not otherwise have been brought to the public.


Congratulations to the grantees!


Reporting on land-use issues of North America:


Chris Arsenault of Rome, Italy, for a series of articles for the Thomson Reuters Foundation on how Cuba’s organic and low carbon intensity farming industry may be affected by the thaw in relations with the US

Chris Arsenault is a correspondent for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.  He has held the Wolfson Press Fellowship at Cambridge University, The Phil Lind Fellowship at the University of British Columbia and has reported from: Venezuela, Mexico, Israel, Palestine, Argentina, Jordan, the US, Guatemala, Canada, Brazil and the UN in Rome. He is the author of two books, including "Blowback: A Canadian History of Agent Orange and the War at Home."

FEJ-funded project:

"Brazil not addressing poor sanitation, water access that exacerbated Zika crisis," Thomson Reuters Foundation, July 13, 2017.

"Rural Amazon violence rises amid bureaucratic mess over land titles," Reuters, July 6, 2017.

"Shady slaughterhouses, 'cow laundering' drive spike in Amazon deforestation," Daily News & Analysis (DNA) India, July 4, 2017.

"Amazon's billion dollar gold rush leaves trail of toxins," Thomson Reuters Foundation, June 29, 2017.

"Amazon protectors: Brazil's indigenous people struggle to stave off loggers," Reuters, June 6, 2017.

"Cuba’s organic honey exports create buzz as bees die off elsewhere" 

"As Cuba struggles to feed itself, lack of cash slows rise of urban farming"                                               

"In Pictures: Slow changes come to Cuba"

"In Cuba, racial inequality deepens with tourism boom"

"Cuba on the verge of illegal property boom as foreign cash tiptoes in"                    


Susan Dunlap of Montana for an investigation for the Montana Standard of western Montana’s toxic mining legacy

Susan Dunlap is the Natural Resources reporter for the Montana Standard. She received a first place award from the New Mexico Press Association 2015 Better Newspaper Contest for her environmental writing on the Gila River diversion while she was a reporter for the Silver City Sun-News. Also while at the Silver City Sun-News, she received a second place award from the New Mexico Press Association 2014 Better Newspaper Contest for her education writing. She was chosen to be a McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute participant for fall 2015. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College and a BA in history from the University of Georgia.

FEJ-funded project:


Amy Martin of Montana for a Montana public radio series examining challenges to restoring bison to the American West

Amy Martin is a radio journalist, writer and musician. She files news reports for NPR, Montana Public Radio and other outlets, and produces podcasts through her company, Auricle Productions. Amy was raised on an Iowa farm and has lived in Montana since 1999. In 2015, she was selected to give a TEDx talk on listening.

FEJ-funded project:


National Native News

Montana Public Radio


Gabriel Popkin of Maryland for a report from Mexico on the effort to mitigate climate change by altering logging practices

Gabriel is a freelance science and environmental writer based in Mount Rainier, Maryland, just outside the nation’s capital. He has written for a variety of science and general-interest publications, including Science, Nature, the New York Times, Slate, Discover, Johns Hopkins Magazine and many others. Much of his work involves ecology, conservation and the physical sciences, but he has written about research across the scientific spectrum. He is currently president of the D.C. Science Writers Association.

FEJ-funded project:


Reporting on biodiversity and climate-change impacts in North America:


Chris Berdik of Massachusetts, with Tik Root and Juan Herrero, for reporting for Newsweek, Politico and possibly other outlets on how faith leaders and the “creation care” movement are affecting the US climate change debate

Chris Berdik is a freelance science journalist, and a former staff editor at The Atlantic and Mother Jones. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, the Daily Beast, New Scientist and the Virginia Quarterly Review among other publications. Chris also writes a monthly column on education technology for the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit education newsroom. His radio and multimedia pieces have been featured on, WBUR (Boston's National Public Radio affiliate) and Chris’s stories often explore the intersection of science with law or ethics. Over the years, he has covered topics ranging from personal genomics to nuclear whistleblowers to climate engineering. He wrote about the placebo effect (including its non-medical manifestations) for his first book, "Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations" (2012). Chris has a BA in history and literature from Harvard, an MA in journalism from Stanford. He received a fellowship from the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources in 2000. In 2014, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting funded his coverage of efforts to save Lake Tonle Sap, a vital source of food for Cambodia. More on Chris and his work can be found at

FEJ-funded project:


Eli Kintisch of Washington DC for reporting in the online outlet Hakai on how Arctic mining may affect the region’s already thinning ice cover, and on novel adaptation strategies being taken by first peoples

Eli Kintisch (@elikint) is a correspondent for Science magazine who focuses on climate science, the Arctic and environmental science. A story he wrote in 2014 was included in the Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology. Between 2011 and 2013 he was an MIT Knight Science Writing Fellow in Cambridge, MA. His 2010 book "Hack the Planet: Science's Best Hope — Or Worst Nightmare — For Averting Climate Catastrophe" received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, who called it "fascinating" and "engaged but balanced."  His work is found at

FEJ-funded project:


Lauren Markham of California for an exploration in Orion magazine of how Alaska’s school system is helping the Iñupiat peoples to cope with their changing environment

Lauren Markham is a writer and reporter based in Northern California. She writes fiction, essays and journalism with a particular focus on issues related to youth, migration and the environment. Her work has appeared in outlets such as VQR,, The New Republic, Guernica, VICE Magazine, Orion, The Utne Reader, Pacific Standard and on This American Life. She is currently at work on a narrative nonfiction book about child migration, to be published by Crown.​

FEJ-funded project:


Eric Simons (Bay Nature Institute) of California for art and web development to enhance a web ( series on conservation of non-charismatic species

FEJ-funded project:


Reporting in the open topic, including international category:


Cynthia Graber (right) and Nicola Twilley (Gastropod) of Massachusetts for a podcast episode exploring new frontiers in fisheries science

Image of Nicola Twilley

Gastropod is an award-winning podcast that looks at food through the lens of science and history, co-hosted by journalists Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley. Every other week, we release a new episode that explores the hidden history and surprising science behind a particular food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. Syndicated articles that accompany podcast episodes have been published on Mother Jones, Quartz, Boing Boing, Digg, Gizmodo, Civil Eats and others. We launched in 2014, and now have a passionate, committed audience around the world. In the July 2015 issue, Wired magazine chose Gastropod as one of their favorite scripted podcasts, and earlier this year we were honored with the 2015 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award for the best Culinary Audio Series, as well as a prestigious 2015 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award.

FEJ-funded project:


Colleen Kimmett of British Columbia, Canada for a report in The Tyee on how Brazil's school food program has become a global model for sustainable agriculture as well as children’s health

Colleen Kimmett is a science journalist who writes mostly about food and health. She's reported from eight countries and been published in dozens of publications, including The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, The New Republic, Aeon magazine, and In These Times. Colleen is active in the entrepreneurial journalism community, and in 2014 co-founded Discourse Media, an organization that produces in-depth journalism about complex social issues. Colleen loves urban wildlife and outdoor adventure of just about any kind. When she's not on the road, she lives in Montreal.

FEJ-funded project:


Jerry Redfern (Redcoates Studios LLC) of New Mexico for a documentary on the ecological hazards of 40-year-old unexploded US bombs in Southeast Asia.

FEJ-funded project:

  • Eternal Harvest follows the legacy of the nine-year bombing campaign carried out in Laos by the U.S. as an offshoot of the Vietnam War. Millions of bombs didn't detonate when dropped 50 or more years ago, and remain in the land, killing and injuring people to this day. The story is told through the voices of the people who lived through the bombing, the people who have survived recent accidents and those who have lost loved ones to these still-deadly bombs. It also tells the story of the one American who goes back year after year for 20 years (2021 excepted) to remove old American ordnance.



Thanks to the following generous foundations and many individual donors for making this cycle of grants possible:

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Grantham Foundation for Protection of the Environment
The Wyss Foundation

If you would like to help experienced environmental journalists produce rich, rigorously investigated and unbiased stories about issues affecting the environment. Make a gift to the Fund for Environmental Journalism on SEJ's secure website.