Alumnus Nicholas St. Fleur wins top award for young science journalists

Nicholas St. Fleur
Nicholas St. Fleur, SciCom class of 2014 (Photo by Miranda Stratton)

Nicholas St. Fleur, a 2014 graduate of UCSC's Science Communication Program, has received the 2021 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, the top annual prize in the U.S. for science journalists age 30 or younger.

St. Fleur is a reporter at STAT, a health and medicine news site associated with the Boston Globe. He received the award and its $1,000 prize for four STAT stories, including one in two parts:

Judges said St. Fleur’s reporting covered fresh ground, particularly on topics around race, medicine and research. One judge said a story about colonoscopies was “a tender portrait” approached with “nuance, empathy and scientific savvy.” Another judge praised the work as “masterfully framed.” St. Fleur was also recognized for exploring issues of race, while being unsparing yet respectful in his storytelling.

“The UC Santa Cruz SciCom program shaped me into the science reporter I am today,” St. Fleur says. “It nurtured my curiosity and set me onto a path where I can share the humanity behind every science story. I will forever be grateful for the journalistic foundation that it has given me.”

St. Fleur was first inspired to pursue journalism after watching medical correspondents cover the devastation of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the country where his parents were born. He came to UCSC after earning his B.S. in biology from Cornell University, where he was science editor of the Cornell Daily Sun. During his graduate studies in Santa Cruz, he trained as a reporter through internships at the Monterey Herald and the San Jose Mercury News. After graduation, he held internships at Scientific American and NPR, then worked as a staff reporter at the Atlantic and the New York Times.

St. Fleur joined STAT as a Knight Wallace Reporting Fellow in September 2020. He is now both a general assignment reporter and associate editorial director of events at STAT.

The Clark/Payne Award was created to encourage young science writers by recognizing outstanding reporting in all fields of science. It is given each year in honor of journalist Ev Clark, who offered friendship and advice to a generation of young reporters. The award was organized this year by Richard Harris (UCSC biology B.A., 1980), who recently retired from NPR and is CASW’s treasurer. This is the 33rd year of the award.

Three other alumni of UCSC's SciCom Program have received the award: Richard Stone '91, senior science editor for Tangled Bank Studios at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and former international news editor at Science; Lila Guterman '98, deputy news editor at Science and former staff reporter at Science News, Chemical & Engineering News, and the Chronicle of Higher Education; and Amber Dance '08, a freelance science and health journalist in southern California and regular contributor to Nature.