Marcela Cantero
Marcela Cantero
Beatriz Benítez
Beatriz Benítez
Evelyn Boche
Moisés Martínez
Moisés Martínez

InquireFirst awards reporting grant to Central American team for regional health project

InquireFirst is pleased to announce that a team of Central American journalists has been awarded our second reporting grant for a regional health 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 continue throughout the year with the awarding of four grants to teams of Latin American journalists for cross-border reporting projects.

The Central American team is led by Marcela Cantero, a science and health journalist with more than 20 years’ reporting experience. For 16 years, Cantero reported for La Nación, covering international conferences on cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. She is now a contributor to La Voz de Guanacastethe first nonprofit, bilingual newspaper in Costa Rica.

Joining Cantero on the team are:

  • Moisés Martínez, an award-winning investigative journalist and political editor at La Prensa in Nicaragua
  • Beatriz Benítez, political news coordinator at the online magazine in El Salvador. Before joining GatoEncerrado, Benítez worked in the Political section of Diario El Mundo and later worked at La Prensa Gráfica
  • Evelyn Boche, journalist for the Guatemalan newspaper elPeriódico, with 10 years of experience in investigative reporting. Before joining elPeriódico, Evelyn worked at the daily newspaper Siglo Veintiuno and ContraPoder magazine. In 2011, she did a professional internship in Madrid as part of the Balboa Program for Young Ibero-Americans.

In response to this initiative, we received numerous regional health project proposals. 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 Central American team, calling it “an ambitious, multi-platform reporting project.”

“The proposal is timely and embodies the idea of a cross-border journalism effort,” the judges said. “The team is made up of great, diverse reporters who bring their skills together to do the job.”

The project, which focuses on the regional health challenges posed by Covid-19, will be published in late July.

Iván Carrillo, editor-in-chief of Tec Review magazine in Mexico, 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 two additional calls for proposals this year: In July, the editorial focus will be the conservation of water and/or the ocean, and in September the project will focus 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 health projects

Deadline is April 15, 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 form teams of science, health and environment journalists working in countries throughout Latin America to produce in-depth regional projects. We invite you to form a team and to propose a cross-border health journalism project 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.

The diversity of countries represented on the team will be one of the main criteria for the selection of the winners.

This is the first of three calls for proposals that we will make this year. In March 2020, the editorial focus will be on health. In May, our focus will be the conservation of water and/or the ocean, and in July the project will focus on nutrition, biotechnology and/or food production.

This initiative includes a grant to provide financial support to journalists whose projects are selected in 2020.

The deadline for proposals on the cross-border health project is April 15, 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 travel, ground transportation, lodging, and meal costs.

• 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 April 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. PDT. The winning project will be announced in May.

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, 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.


Environmental Investigative Journalism Project

Alexa Vélez

Alexa Vélez has served as editor of Mongabay Latin America, an online media organization that focuses on environmental issues, for the past three years. Mongabay has teams of journalists in the United States, Indonesia, Latin America, India and Brazil.

Alexa was awarded an Honorable Mention from the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) for coordinating and editing the special project “Livestock and Narco-deforestation: the slow disappearance of forests in Central America,” a series that addressed in six installments how drug trafficking occupies the forests located in protected areas and takes advantage of the remote spaces to operate illegally. In addition, she was part of the team that together with the newspaper El Deber of Bolivia, was awarded the Premio Rey de España for the special feature, “Mafia pulls the fangs of the jaguar, the great feline of the Américas,” where illegal wildlife trafficking was addressed. For three consecutive years she has also been a finalist for the National Journalism Prize in Peru with investigative reports on drug trafficking in indigenous peoples' territories, illegal mining and oil pollution.

Alexa has 15 years of experience as a television investigative reporter for one of the most politically influential political programs in the country. In recent years, she completed a master's degree in visual anthropology at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru.


Fabiano Maisonnave

Fabiano Maisonnave is the Amazon correspondent for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the most influential in the country, and is based in Manaus. Before, he was a correspondent in Campo Grande (Brazil), Caracas, Washington, D.C., and Beijing. He has reported from 32 countries, particularly in Latin America and Asia.

He holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Connecticut, with a thesis on Afro-Brazilian migration to the US. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2016.

For the past three years, Fabiano has focused on social and environmental issues of the Brazilian Amazon. His work has been published in English in The Guardian and in Climate Home News.



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.


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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