“The Real Science Gap” Receives the AAUP’s Award for Excellence in Coverage of Higher Education

For Immediate Release: June 11, 2011
Contact: Robin Burns

Washington, D.C.— Writer Beryl Lieff Benderly is this year’s recipient of the Iris Molotsky Award for Excellence in Coverage of Higher Education, given annually by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The winning entry, “The Real Science Gap,” was the cover story for Miller-McCune on June 14, 2010.

The AAUP’s purpose in giving this award is to recognize exceptional journalism and to encourage thoughtful, in-depth coverage of issues that are critical to higher education, to faculty and other professionals engaged in the enterprise. The judges were unanimous in their praise of the investigation of a little known and unpublicized yet serious issue. “The Real Science Gap” gave a compelling and very convincing description of the disconnect between the popular belief in the lack of able young scientists and the reality of the lack of jobs for them.  Business leaders have cried “scientist shortage,” but scores of thousands of young PhDs are laboring in US university labs as low-paid, temporary workers, ostensibly training for permanent faculty positions that will never exist. Benderly states, “The nation's future welfare requires that this issue receive serious attention from the nation's academic and science policy communities.  This prestigious recognition from so important an academic organization will help that to happen.”

Cat Warren, editor of Academe, presented the award at Saturday’s plenary luncheon, saying, “This is one of those stellar pieces of interpretive journalism that does it all: it garners an enormous number of facts; it takes those facts and gives them a new frame that upends some widely held beliefs. And it does so in a manner that is so graceful that when you reach the end of the piece and realize that it has done the next-to-impossible—change your mind about something—you don’t resent it in the least. You’re grateful.”

Beryl Lieff Benderly writes the monthly “Taken for Granted” column on science labor force for the Science website. Her articles have appeared in Miller-McCune, Scientific American, Scientific American Mind, Prism, Science, Slate, Smithsonian and the New York Times, among many other prominent publications.  In addition, Benderly is the author of eight books, has appeared on CNN and the “Today Show,” and has taught science and health writing.

The Iris Molotsky Award for Excellence in Coverage of Higher Education is named for Iris Molotsky, who retired from the AAUP in 2001 after nineteen years of service as director of public information. 

“The Real Science Gap” is available online at http://www.miller-mccune.com/science/the-real-science-gap-16191/.  For more information, please contact Robin Burns.

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has about 47,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Media Contact: 
Robin Burns
Publication Date: 
Saturday, June 11, 2011