Merritt Science Journalism Award

The Richard Merritt Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Science Journalism annually recognizes a Duke graduate or undergraduate student for the best piece of science journalism produced during the previous calendar year.  A cash award of $500 is presented to the winner at a celebratory dinner held each spring in conjunction with the university’s Melcher Award and Futrell Award programs.

How to Apply


  • Any work of journalism (text, video, infographic, animation, etc.) focused on explaining scientific research to a general audience
    • Personal blog entries, video uploads, or other publicly accessible creations are eligible
    • Research reports or journal articles intended for a primarily scientific audience are NOT eligible
    • Written stories must be at least 500 words long; stories in combined or other formats are also eligible
    • Must be produced by a current undergraduate or graduate Duke student
    • Must have been published or broadcast during the previous calendar year (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2015)  

Selection: The award committee, comprising Duke research communications leaders, will evaluate each entry based on 1) its clarity in explaining the science/research and 2) its ability to engage a lay audience in the subject matter. 

Deadline: February 15, 2016

   submit your entry  

For questions about the award, please contact Minnie Glymph, communications director for the Pratt School of Engineering.

2016 Contest

The 2016 Merritt Science Journalism Award winner is Rosa Li, a PhD student in psychology and neuroscience. Click the button to read her article, as well as two more selected as outstanding runners-up.

See the 2016 Winners

Previous Winners

Read and see other winning entries:


Richard Merritt

Richard Merritt was a longtime writer and media relations specialist for Duke University and Duke Medicine, with 25 years of service at the time of his death in 2013. He truly loved telling the story of Duke scientific research and did much to advance the university through his contributions over the years. The Richard Merritt Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Science Journalism was established by his family, friends, and colleagues to honor his memory. For more information or to contribute, please email