SEJ's Fund for Environmental Journalism Awards $30,400 to Support Stories on Biodiversity

SEJ's Fund for Environmental Journalism awards
$30,400 in story project grants in FEJ Spring Cycle 2019


The Society of Environmental Journalists' Fund for Environmental Journalism has awarded $30,400 for nine new story projects selected through the Spring 2019 round of competition for stories about biodiversity and community-based conservation.


Congratulations to the grantees!


Shanna Baker, for "Saltwater Crocodiles in Timor-Leste." As the saltwater crocodile population in the Northern Territory of Australia has increased, so have deadly crocodile attacks in Timor-Leste, 600 kilometers to the northwest, raising complex questions about the responsibility of a nation to control its predatory wildlife, and about what can be done to save lives in an ethical and culturally sensitive way without compromising conservation.

Shanna Baker is a senior editor and feature writer at Hakai Magazine, an online publication based in Victoria, British Columbia, that explores science, society and the environment from a coastal perspective. She gravitates to stories about lesser-loved wildlife and conservation issues. Recent projects have taken her to Australia, Cuba, India and British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest region. Shanna is also an accomplished photojournalist and travel photographer.


Clare Fieseler, for "Ocean Biodiversity in Arabian Gulf," to explore new studies documenting shared marine populations between Qatar and UAE as well as report on early grassroots advocacy among scientists and citizens of the wider region to establish transboundary "peace parks" on land and sea.

Clare Fieseler is an Assistant Teaching Professor at Georgetown University. She is also a photojournalist and reporter. Her works can be found on The Washington Post, NPR, BioGraphic Magazine, UnDark Magazine and National Geographic. She is one of 300 photographers whose images are represented by National Geographic Image Collection.


Liza Gross, for "Cougars, Climate and Conflict." People are increasingly leaving cities for Washington’s rugged Olympic Peninsula. Some are climate refugees. Many, unaware they're moving to cougar country, are leaving their goats, chickens and other small livestock easy prey for the wide-ranging carnivores. Now, as biologists scramble to find ways to connect an inbred cougar population with the mainland to boost the cats’ genetic health and long-term survival, they’re confronting an uptick in cats killing unguarded livestock — and a state that sees killing cougars for doing what comes naturally as the only solution.

Liza Gross is freelance journalist and senior editor at the biomedical journal PLOS Biology. She's also a reporter for the Food & Environment Reporting Network and contributes to several national outlets, writing mostly about wildlife, ecology, conservation and environmental and public health.

FEJ-funded project:


Maya L. Kapoor, for "The Search for the Last Yaqui Catfish," to detail efforts to save a disappearing desert fish species in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, even as the region's cities grow larger and thirstier.

Maya Kapoor is an associate editor at High Country News, where she writes about climate change, endangered species, environmental policy and social justice. Her work often focuses on the people and places of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. She also edits book reviews and essays for High Country News.

FEJ-funded project:


Mark Kaufman, for "The Ocean's Detectives." Mark will join the Argo seafaring expedition with top researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which plans to add deep-sea ocean monitoring floats to their growing network of some 3,800 instruments currently collecting vital information about the rapidly changing oceans.

After working as a park ranger in the thick of Alaska's bear country, Mark fled to a different sort of wilderness — New York City — and is equally terrified. Mark writes science at Mashable. @SkepticalRanger


Rachel Nuwer, for "Silent Guns." Trophy hunting is increasingly vilified by Western audiences, but conservation in Africa cannot function without it.

Rachel Nuwer is a freelance journalist who regularly contributes to the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC Future and more. She is the author of "Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking" (Da Capo, Sept 2018).

FEJ-funded project:


Sangeeta Pisharoty and Kabir Agarwal, for "Black-Necked Cranes: How Religious Beliefs of the Buddhist Monpas Are Driving Preservation Efforts," to document community mobilization of the Monpa tribe of Arunachal Pradesh to preserve the endangered black-necked crane, drawing from the best practices in neighboring Bhutan in protecting the migratory species.

Sangeeta Pisharoty is a New Delhi-based journalist with over two decades of field experience in multiple areas. Over the last five-six years, she has shifted her focus to reporting regularly on India's Northeast, the region she comes from, as it doesn't get much attention from the national media, and also because of the region's delicate ecology, particularly when New Delhi is showing a growing interest in focusing on development of the region by augmenting huge infrastructural projects.

Kabir Agarwal co-authored a book titled "Chasing the Affordable Dream: A Plan To House Mumbai's Millions," on the affordable housing crisis in Mumbai and possible solutions towards resolving it. He was awarded the Red Ink Award for excellence in journalism in 2018 in the business and economy category for a story on a farmer suicide in Uttar Pradesh in India.

FEJ-funded project:


Gabriel Popkin, for "Bringing Extinction Home (Black Ash Trees and Native Americans)," about how Native tribes of the upper Midwest in the United States are reviving cultural traditions around an important tree while preparing for a future without it.

Gabriel Popkin is a Washington, D.C.-area science writer who writes mainly about physics, ecology and environment. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Science and Nature magazines, and many other venues. Popkin is a past president of the DC Science Writers Association.

FEJ-funded project:



Simran Sethi, for "The Foundations of America's Food Security Are in Mexico," a feature on how the biodiversity required to sustain the pillars of the American diet is located in the fields and stored seed and grain collections of Mexico.

Simran Sethi is a writer reporting on social, environmental and sustainability issues through food and agriculture. Her work has been featured in publications including Smithsonian, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post and Food & Wine. She is the author of "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love," and creator, host, writer and producer of The Slow Melt, the first podcast dedicated to chocolate and winner of the SAVEUR Magazine Editors’ Choice Winner for Best Food Podcast.

FEJ-funded project:


Major underwriting for the Spring 2019 coverage project grants was generously provided by the Wyss Campaign for Nature Communications, a project of the Resources Legacy Fund. Additional support was provided by The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and individual donors to the Fund for Environmental Journalism.

All Fund for Environmental Journalism Grantees retain full authority over editorial and publishing decisions. Through its FEJ program, the Society of Environmental Journalists maintains a firewall between news decisions and sources of grant support. Independent and separate agreements are maintained between SEJ and FEJ grantees and between SEJ and donors whose generous contributions make unique journalism projects possible.

Contribute now to SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism and help journalists tell the most important stories in the world.


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