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ASU communicators net 6 Silver Quill Awards

October 10, 2008

Two ASU publications, a School of Life Sciences podcast, and six writers and designers were recognized by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) at the Southern Regional Silver Quill Award’s Ceremony held in Denver Sept. 29. The ASU winners were chosen over submissions from 27 IABC Chapters in 14 U.S. states and 15 countries. 

ASU’s Chain Reaction, created by Conrad Storad and his staff at ASU’s Office of Research Publications for young readers in elementary and middle schools, and School of Life Sciences Magazine, produced by managing editor Margaret Coulombe and designer Jacob Sahertian, were singled out for excellence in writing and design. This was School of Life Sciences Magazine’s first submission to IABC. 

“The magazine is a highly collaborative publication, pulling from the combined efforts of our graduate students and staff,” Coulombe notes. “It’s nice to have validation from the professional community that we are doing a good job, creating a valuable tool to train our graduate students, and developing the appropriate vehicle to showcase the contributions made by our researchers, students and alumni to the global community.” 

Diane Boudreau, staff writer for ASU Research Magazine and Chain Reaction in Storad’s group, garnered special recognition from IABC. She was awarded two Silver Quills for her writing. One was for her 2007 piece “Fuels of Green,” which brought to life research by Milton Sommerfeld and Qiang Hu on algal biofuels. Her second article, “Cosmic Playground,” featured Paul Davies, director of the Beyond Institute. 

Says Boudreau: "Paul Davies is so interesting, who wouldn’t win an award writing about him?”

Since 1987, Storad and his group at Research Publications have won more than 150 Silver Quills for writing, editing, illustration, photography, publication design and Web site design. 

ASU picked up a win in a new category this year as well, for excellence in audio and visual communications. School of Life Sciences’ Charles Kazilek, creator of the children’s educational science Web site “Ask a Biologist,” received a Silver Quill Award for his innovative podcast series. Twice a month, listeners are taken on an audio journey, from the Tibetan Plateau to a scorpion’s lair to deep within the structure of a feather, experiencing along the way the excitement that scientists feel for their work, their lifestyles and their hobbies. 

Each of ASU’s submissions was graded on effectiveness of communication in print, design, Web or audio, plus the creative and innovative approach in communicating with the target audience, as well as review of a documented measurement of objectives.

 The metrics for ASU’s award-winning communications are notable. Kazilek’s Web site tallies up more than 420,000 student, 140,000 teacher, and 140,000 adult visits per year. Combined with School of Life Sciences Magazine, Research Magazine and Chain Reaction, these award-winning publications contribute to a substantial educational footprint. 

The audience for ASU Research Magazine’s print version includes more than 50,000 readers spread across all 50 states and 49 countries. Issues of Chain Reaction are distributed to more than 175,000 students and teachers at thousands of schools in Arizona and across North America. 

“This magazine is unique," Storad says. "No other university in the United States has anything like it at all. It’s a beautiful tool for putting stories of science and learning directly into the hands of young readers and their teachers.”

 The IABC Silver Quill judges seemed to agree. One wrote, “It’s a perfect publication for the target audience. I want a subscription for my own kids.” Another added, “More universities should take ASU’s lead and reach out to younger readers with science information that is fun to read and fun to look at. Chain Reaction is very cool.”