Leslie Roberts of Science wins ASM Public Communications Award

Washington, DC--March 18, 2005--Leslie Roberts has been named the winner of the 2005 ASM Public Communications Award. Roberts' award-winning entry, "Polio: The Final Assault," published in the March 26, 2004 issue of Science, presents a compelling picture of how microbiology, public health, and society interact. Reporting from Washington, Atlanta, and India, Roberts explains why the 16-year, multibillion dollar effort to eradicate polio remains tantalizingly short of its goal, and why those leading the effort believe that victory may finally be achievable. It is a story of microbiology in the real world that tells why the oral polio vaccine that revolutionized immunization in the industrialized world has encountered obstacles ranging from reduced efficacy to social and political opposition in the developing world.

The Award, established in 1996 to recognize achievement in promoting public understanding of microbiology, consists of a plaque and $2,500 cash prize. It will be presented this year in Atlanta on June 6 during the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Judges called Roberts' story "first-rate reporting," "an important story meticulously researched and beautifully told," and "a compelling read without loss of technical accuracy."

Since 2000, Roberts has been deputy news editor at the weekly magazine Science, where she works with a team of reporters covering infectious diseases, both old foes like polio and emerging threats like avian influenza. She also coordinates the magazine's coverage of biomedicine and environment/ecology. In a previous stint at Science in the 1980s and 1990s, Roberts was a senior writer specializing in genetics and the environment.

Roberts has also served as editor-in-chief at the World Resources Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, where she worked on issues of environment, development, and human health; and as senior editor then editor-in-chief of Issues in Science and

Contact: Barbara Hyde
American Society for Microbiology

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