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  • South American team awarded InquireFirst reporting grant for environmental project

    Eduardo Franco Berton
    Gustavo Faleiros
    Gustavo Faleiros

    InquireFirst is pleased to announce that a team of South American journalists has been awarded our third reporting grant for a regional environmental project which they will produce as part of our 2020 initiative to encourage cross-border reporting on science, health and the environment by Latin American journalists.

    A partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Department of Science Education, our Historias Sin Fronteras project was launched in February and will award four grants this year to teams of Latin American journalists for cross-border reporting projects.

    The South American team is comprised of two journalists – Gustavo Faleiros, founder of InfoAmazonia in Brazil, and Eduardo Franco Berton, founder of Red Ambiental de Información (RAI) in Bolivia.

    Faleiros specializes in data-driven reporting. In 2012, he launched InfoAmazonia, a digital map that uses satellite and other publicly available data to monitor the Amazon rain forest. He helped create the Amazon Communications Network, which trained journalists and produced 200 stories about environmental issues in the region. He was twice selected as a Knight International Journalism Fellow for his work to promote data literacy and geojournalism.

    Faleiros began his career at Valor Economico, Brazil’s largest financial newspaper, and has also worked at the Brazilian environmental news site O Eco. He has also written for publications such as Scientific American, The Guardian and Folha de S. Paulo. Faleiros earned his master’s degree in environment, politics and globalization from King’s College London and a degree in journalism from the Catholic University of Sao Paulo.

    Franco Berton is an environmental journalist and nature photographer with 10 years of experience. He began his career as a lawyer, specializing in environmental law for conservation organizations. In 2016, he founded RAI, a news platform on environment, conservation and environmental sciences with the mission of giving voice to biodiversity and vulnerable groups in Bolivia and Latin America.

    He has focused on investigating wildlife trafficking, environmental crimes and overexploitation of natural resources in Latin America. In November 2019, he received an honorable mention in the Latin American Prize for Investigative Journalism COLPIN 2019, for his investigative work titled “A Trip to the Jaguar’s Black Market.” This year, he will be recognized with an honorable mention in investigative reporting during the Society of Environmental Journalists 2020 Award for his story published in National Geographic, titled “Poaching Threatens South America’s Only Bear Species.”

    In response to our call for proposals, Historias Sin Fronteras received numerous project proposals focused on water and/or ocean conservation. Our international panel of judges said that each of the proposals demonstrated the experience and creativity of the Latin American journalists who participated. 

    The judges singled out the proposal by the South American team, calling it “an exciting exploration” of the multi-faceted and complex issue of large-scale water projects and the danger they present to the environment.

    “Supported by infographics and other multimedia elements, we look forward to seeing how this story comes together,” the judges said.

    The project will be published in November.

    Iván Carrillo, editor-in-chief of Tec Review magazine in Mexico and co-founder of Historias Sin Fronteras, will serve as project editor.  Carrillo is part of the 2016-2017 generation of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT. He is a contributor to National Geographic and the Latin American editions of Newsweek and has collaborated with the Discovery Channel and CNN en Español.

    InquireFirst will be issuing an additional call for proposals later this year. In October, the editorial focus will be on nutrition, biotechnology and/or food production.

    By launching this regional initiative, InquireFirst and HHMI’s Department of Science Education aim to convene, inspire and encourage the work of science writers in Latin America. Across Latin America, science journalism plays a vital role in providing rigorous and current information to increasingly diverse audiences. Through our support of collaborative projects, we hope to strengthen the network of experienced Latin American science writers by providing them with reporting resources and new outlets where they can publish their outstanding work.  


    Welcome to our Cross-Border Science Journalism Project for Latin American journalists!

    Send your proposals for cross-border projects on the conservation of water and/or the ocean

    Deadline is July 22, 2020

    InquireFirst is accepting applications for our Cross-Border Science Journalism Project, an initiative to promote collaborative cross-border science journalism in Latin America.

    With the support of the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), InquireFirst aims to encourage collaborative journalism on science, health and environmental issues of critical importance in Latin America.

    Our objective is to support teams of science, health and environment journalists who are working in countries throughout Latin America on in-depth regional projects. This initiative includes a grant to provide financial support to journalists whose projects are selected in 2020.

    We invite you to form a team and to propose a cross-border journalism project on the conservation of water and/or the ocean that you can investigate and write in a period of two months.

    The winning team will have a minimum of two journalists and a maximum of four.

    Each team must be comprised of journalists from different countries in the Americas. Teams that do not reflect a diversity of countries will be disqualified.

    The deadline for proposals on the cross-border conservation of water and/or the ocean journalism project is July 22, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

    We intend to publish focused projects -- not themes -- so your proposal must reflect in sufficient detail the outline and angle of your project. A completed InquireFirst questionnaire will be required to present your project and your team. The questionnaire can be found below this text.

    The project will be edited by veteran science journalist and editor Iván Carrillo. There will be a schedule for edits, as well as a non-negotiable deadline. The team will make as many corrections and modifications as required during the editing process.

    The winning team agrees to credit the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and InquireFirst, as well editor Iván Carrillo, and the graphic design and interpretation teams in all publications and communications where the winning work is mentioned.

    Eligibility: The Cross-Border Science Journalism grant is open to any journalist who frequently works or collaborates with a newspaper, magazine, radio, television or online media organization in Latin America. Staff journalists and freelance journalists are eligible to apply. Those who work in public relations positions or social communications offices or who are institutional spokespersons are not eligible to apply for a Cross-Border Science Journalism grant.

    Distribution: Cross-border science journalism projects will be published by media organizations in Latin America and the United States. Editor Iván Carrillo and project coordinator Lynne Walker will work with media organizations to ensure that projects have the widest possible distribution.

    HHMI may also publish projects for educational purposes on the Institute's Biointeractive website.

    The project will be submitted to the editor in Spanish and translated to English for publication in U.S. media.

     The winning team will have publishing rights six months after publication by InquireFirst.

    To ensure credibility and fairness, an international panel of three judges will select the winning team in each category.  The judges’ decision on the winning project will be final.

    Requests must include the following:

    • A completed questionnaire describing the project. A link to the questionnaire can be found below this text.

    • An estimated preliminary budget (not to exceed US $ 3,000 per project), which includes a basic breakdown of ground transportation and meal costs. The budget may also include a reporting stipend for the journalists working on the project.

    • A biography of each journalist on the team, with a maximum length of 300 words per biography.

    Deadline: The deadline for proposals for the cross-border health project is July 22, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. PDT. The winning project will be announced in August.

    Questions? Email Lynne Walker


    S. Lynne Walker
    Project Director

    S. Lynne Walker is a Pulitzer Prize finalist who spent much of her career reporting from Mexico, where she served as Mexico City Bureau Chief from 1992 to 2008 for San Diego, Calif.-based Copley News Service.

    Lynne was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for “Beardstown: Reflection of a Changing America,” a four-part series on a small Illinois town transformed by immigration. She was awarded the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2005 for her outstanding coverage of Latin America.

    From 2008-2016, Lynne served as vice president of the Institute of the Americas, a nonprofit organization on the University of California, San Diego campus. There, she established the Institute’s regional journalism program, creating an international network of journalists and raising funds to provide them with scholarships to attend workshops that she organized and directed.

    As president and executive director of InquireFirst, which she launched in 2016, Lynne continues to travel to Latin America to work with colleagues on new ways to produce in-depth reporting on science, health and the environment. She has conducted Spanish-language journalism workshops in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador.

    Iván Carrillo
    Editor and Project Coordinator

    Iván Carrillo is a Mexico City-based science journalist with more than 20 years of experience in magazines and television. He is conductor of the program Los Observadores on Canal ADN 40 of TV Azteca and the Ibero-American Scientific and Cultural News, a program that is broadcast in more than 17 Latin American countries in Spanish and Portuguese with news on science and technology.

    He is an independent contributor to National Geographic and the Latin American editions of Newsweek and has collaborated with Discovery Channel, CNN in Spanish, El WESO, Radio Mexiquense, Grupo Expansión, among many others.

    Iván is part of the 2016-2017 generation of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT, the world's most recognized scientific journalism program, and holds a master’s degree in digital journalism from the University of Guadalajara.

    He has conducted reporting in more than 20 countries. In addition, he is a lecturer on journalism, storytelling and creativity and is a founding member of the Mexican Network of Science Journalists.

    He is also consultant for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and Mexico’s National Cancer Institute and has served as a juror for numerous journalism and innovation competitions.


    Aleszu Bajak

    Aleszu Bajak, a science and data journalist who teaches and manages the graduate programs at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

    Bajak is the editor of LatinAmericanScience.org, a resource for science news and opinion in Latin America.

    He has been a freelance reporter in Latin America, a producer for the public radio show Science Friday, and once worked in the gene therapy department at Weill Cornell.

    From 2013-2014, Bajak was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. Bajak grew up in New Jersey, Germany and Colombia and has lived in Chile, Peru and Argentina.

    Jane Roberts

    Jane Roberts, the deputy editor of Undark, a non-profit, editorially-independent digital magazine dedicated to exploring the intersection of science and society.

    She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a B.A. in Journalism and Economics, with a minor in Environmental Studies.

    Before joining Undark, Roberts interned with the wealth team at Forbes, where she valued and wrote about some of the country’s richest billionaires.

    She joined Undark as associate editor in 2016 and has since developed its widely respected fact-checking program.

    Robert Hernández

    Robert Hernández, an associate professor of professional practice at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who focuses on finding ways that technology and journalism can empower people, inform reporting and storytelling and engage community.

    Hernández has been an international keynote speaker and moderator and gave a TEDxKC talk on the future of news and misinformation.

    Prior to joining Annenberg, Hernández worked at The Seattle Times, where he helped shape and execute the vision for the website. He also worked as a web designer and consultant for El Salvador’s largest daily newspaper, La Prensa Gráfica.


    Central America Health Project

    Marcela Cantero

    Marcela Cantero

    Beatriz Benítez

    Beatriz Benítez


    Evelyn Boche

    Moisés Martínez

    Moisés Martínez

    Environmental Investigative Journalism

    Alexa Vélez

    Alexa Vélez

    Fabiano Maisonnave

    Fabiano Maisonnave



    HHMI, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., is the leading private nonprofit supporter of scientific research and science education in the United States. The Department of Science Education supports storytelling and science literacy through its media partnerships and its HHMI Tangled Bank Studios unit, which creates powerful films about science and scientists for broad audiences.

    Its Undergraduate Grant Program aims to transform science education in universities and colleges, and its BioInteractive division produces and provides free educational resources to educators and millions of students around the globe.


    Four journalists – working as a cross-border team under the name Conexión Centroamericana -- investigated the role of science in government decisions to respond to the aggressive regional advances of COVID-19. The answers they found as a result of their two-month investigation showed that an unhealthy dose of politics and scarce science are driving the decisions on Central America’s response to the pandemic.

    The HHMI Department of Science Education supported the first cross-border science journalism collaboration initiated by Lynne Walker and Iván Carrillo in July 2019, when a proposal by a team of four Latin American science writers was selected from among a number of worthy proposals during a science journalism workshop held at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    The result was an in-depth, multi-faceted transgender multimedia report carried out by the reporters from Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina and Venezuela and edited by Iván Carrillo that combined complex scientific information with a compelling and compassionate narrative.

    Historias Sin Fronteras

    A collaborative science journalism project organized by InquireFirst

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