2011 Metcalf Fellows

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Russ Choma is an investigative journalist in Washington, D.C., focusing on climate and green energy issues. Since 2009, he has worked at the Investigative Reporting Workshop, a non-profit investigative journalism organization affiliated with American University. While at the Workshop, he has produced stories on green energy and green jobs that have been published in collaboration with Workshop partners, including the Financial Times, ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer, Politics Daily, and MSNBC.com. He has taught several seminars for working journalists on how to cover the green economy at the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Since moving to Washington, Choma has also contributed to Nieman Watchdog and Grist.org. Prior to his work in Washington, he was a newspaper reporter in New Hampshire for five years, first as general assignment and then covering crime and courts. Choma has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Muhlenberg College and a master’s degree in print journalism and public policy from American University. While completing his master’s, he was awarded a Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) fellowship and worked as a reporter for BNA, a specialty publications news organization.
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Emily Elert is a freelance science reporter and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, she worked with Climate Central, a non-profit organization of scientists and communicators, to write a book on the science of climate change. Her work has also appeared in Discover Magazine and online at Scientific American, On Earth, and Scienceline. Prior to her work in journalism, Elert taught earth science and English at the Brooklyn College Academy and Progress High School in Brooklyn. In 2005, she was awarded a fellowship that supported her certification while teaching at high needs schools in New York City. Elert earned a B.A. in both earth science and English from the University of Michigan in 2005, a Masters of Science in Teaching from Pace University in 2007, and an M.A. in journalism from New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program in 2010.
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Floriano Filho is a special reporter and editor at TV Brasil, the Brazilian public broadcaster. Some of his major videos available on YouTube deal with biotech for energy and health, geopolitics of biofuels and oil, and the biodiversity of Amazon plants. He has edited a number of long features on Africa and on human rights, such as one dealing with a guerrilla that fought in the Brazilian Amazon in the 70s. In 2009 he was one of the few Brazilian journalists invited to cover the Brazil-Europe Summit in Stockholm, Sweden. He was the U.S. correspondent for TV Brasil until February 2009, following his Fulbright-APSA Congressional Fellowship in Washington, D.C. As a videojournalist he covered the 2008 U.S. elections, the financial crisis, and Guantanamo. Previously, Filho was the presenter and editor-in-chief in Brazil of “Diplomacia,” a news analysis program on foreign affairs issues, and a reporter for a number of media outlets. While in the U.S. he gave a number of talks in various colleges on Brazilian and Latin American foreign policies. In 2006 was a Reuters Foundation fellow at Oxford University, writing a dissertation on the global trade of digital content. Following that, he was awarded a grant by the Japan Foundation and traveled to Tokyo to produce a one-hour documentary on the political economy of Japanese animations. He is a board member of the Association of Brazilian Alumni in Japan. Filho earned an M.S. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Journalism School in 1991, and an M.A. in telecoms regulation from the University of Westminster in London in 2001. He was also a research student in the universities of Tsukuba and Hitotsubashi in Tokyo in 1993. In 2009 he took a summer course on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Giessen University, Germany, and wrote a final paper on the so-called targeted killings.
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Trimmel Gomes is the news director for Florida Public Radio/WFSU-FM. He hosts and produces Capital Report, a statewide program offering news coverage on a variety of topics affecting the state of Florida. He worked his way up the ranks from a general assignment reporter, All Things Considered host, and host/producer of the local call-in show Perspectives. He now oversees all of WFSU-FM’s news operations. Gomes is a native of Georgetown, Guyana. Gomes is a 2009 fellow of the Scripps Howard Institute on the Environment. His reporting has earned a number of national and regional awards. He is a member of several associations including the Society of Environmental Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists and Public Radio News Directors Incorporated. He spends most of his time tracking and reporting on environmental issues in the state, including ongoing coverage on Everglades restoration efforts and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Gomes studied at the University of Florida, receiving a B.S. in broadcast journalism.
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Sujata Gupta is a correspondent with New Scientist and a freelance science writer. Her work has appeared in Wired, ScienceNOW, EARTH Magazine, PNAS and several other publications. Previously, Sujata worked as the municipal reporter for City Newspaper, an alternative newsweekly in Rochester, New York. She got her start in journalism as a copy editor and reporter for the Finger Lakes Times, a small daily paper in upstate New York. A wanderlust at heart, Gupta also spent several years conducting tours and writing for the National Park Service at three stunning locations–Haleakala in Hawaii, Mojave in California and Acadia in Maine–and spent two years teaching English in Nagano, Japan. She has received travel grants to attend the International Marine Conservation Congress in Victoria, Canada, and Press Week, a stem cell conference in Bar Harbor, Maine. She also recently won a writing award through the D.C. Science Writers Association. Gupta holds a graduate degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University and an undergraduate degree in English and business from Cornell University.
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Bellamy Pailthorp reports news at KPLU Public Radio in Seattle where she started as a general assignment reporter in 1999 and, for the past decade, has covered the business and labor beat. She takes over the station’s environmental news beat this summer. Prior to working at KPLU, she freelanced in New York City and produced bilingual television news at Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin, Germany. She was a Fulbright Scholar at large and a stringer for AP sports and the foreign desk of NPR News in Berlin during and immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Her work has won numerous prizes from organizations including RTNDA and the Society of Professional Journalists and, in 2005 she was awarded a Knight-Bagehot fellowship and for the next year was immersed in advanced business and finance reporting at Columbia University. Pailthorpe earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in 1989 and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2006.
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Jacopo Pasotti is a freelance journalist and science communicator, reporting on science, technology, environment and societies, and science policy. He also carries out reportage on scientific expeditions and develops science communication skills workshops chiefly for academics in Italy, Switzerland and Australia. Prior to his work in science communication, Pasotti was a researcher and consultant in geo-morphological hazards (seismic hazards, landslides, and soil erosion modelling) in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Romania, and Israel. He received Italy’s Premio Piazzano for scientific and environmental reporting in 2011 and the first International Prize for Environmental Journalism, “Casa Mediterraneo,” from the Ministry of Environment of Spain in 2010. In 2007 he was invited to be Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Pasotti is a member of the Swiss Club of Science Journalism, Science Writers in Milan, and the International Federation of Journalists. He received his master’s degree in earth sciences in Milan, Italy, in 1994. He was awarded a fellowship by the Swiss National Science Foundation to attend a Master of Science in Science Communication and Journalism at the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science  at the Australian National University in 2004.
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Mark Schleifstein is environment reporter for The Times-Picayune where he has worked since 1984. His stories on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil spill were among The Times-Picayune work honored this year with the 2010 Edward J. Meeman Award for environmental reporting from the Scripps-Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Awards program, and with a second place award in the 2011 John B. Oakes Awards program. He was the co-author of a March 2007 series entitled “Last Chance: The Fight to Save a Disappearing Coast,” about Louisiana’s coastal erosion problems, which won the 2008 Communications Award of the National Academy of Sciences and the 2007 John H. Oakes Prize for Environmental Reporting from Columbia University. Schleifstein is the co-author of a December 2008 series entitled “Losing Louisiana,” explaining the role of global warming, sea level rise and subsidence on the future of the Louisiana coastline. His reporting during and after Hurricane Katrina was among the newspaper’s stories honored with 2006 Pulitzer Prizes for Public Service and Breaking News Reporting and the George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting. He is the co-author with John McQuaid of Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms, published by Little, Brown & Co. in 2006. Stories he and McQuaid wrote prior to Katrina on coastal science issues were honored in 2006 with a special award from the American Geophysical Union. Among them was the 2002 series he co-authored, “Washing Away: How south Louisiana is growing more vulnerable to a catastrophic hurricane,” which also won the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2003 Excellence in Media award and the 2003 National Hurricane Conference media award. It also was a finalist for the 2003 Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting for newspapers with over 100,000 circulation. He was co-author of the 1996 series, “Oceans of Trouble: Are the World’s Fisheries Doomed?”, which won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service from the Society of Professional Journalists. Scheifstein earned his B.A. in journalism from George Washington University in 1975.
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Kate Sheppard is a reporter in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Mother Jones magazine where she has been since 2009. She was previously the political reporter at Grist and a writing fellow at The American Prospect. Her work has also been featured in The New York Times Room for Debate blog, The Guardian’s Comment is Free, The Center for Public Integrity, The Washington Independent, ForeignPolicy.com, The Daily Beast, In These Times, and Bitch. Mother Jones’ team coverage of the BP oil spill was recognized as the Best Online Topical Reporting/Blogging by the Online News Association in 2010. The magazine’s team coverage of the Copenhagen climate conference was also a finalist for the National Magazine Awards for Digital Media in 2010. Sheppard was a fellow in the 2009 New York Times Institute on Environmental Reporting and the Reynolds Institute’s Covering the Green Economy seminar in 2010. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with degrees in journalism and politics and was a recipient of the Roy H. Park Scholarship.
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Dominick Yanchunas is associate editor of Professional Mariner, Journal of the Maritime Industry. He joined Professional Mariner in 2006 as a contributing writer covering industry news, enterprise features, maritime safety and casualties. He helps direct the magazine’s overall content and serves as web news editor and Facebook administrator. His recent reporting assignments include the Deepwater Horizon disaster, high-seas piracy, the US Airways Flight 1549 rescue, national and international regulations and environmental technology. Yanchunas also is contributing editor at COINage magazine. Previously, he was a writer with Bloomberg News, supervisor and reporter for the Associated Press and staff writer with the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, New York. His international assignments have included visits to China, the Arctic, Austria and Hungary. Yanchunas has been honored with national journalism awards for enterprise reporting, magazine writing and numismatic writing. He is a member of the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Yanchunas earned a bachelor’s degree, with a double major in journalism and government, from Morehead State University. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University. He was a graduate exchange student and research fellow at the University of Kiel, Germany, and was a fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency.

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