Richard L. Hill

2000 David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – News Winner

Richard L. Hill was awarded the David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Writing at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on December 17, 2000, in San Francisco, California.


“When Richard L. Hill wrote ‘Earthquake Potential Moves Inland’ for the May 4, 1999, editions of The Oregonian, it was only the latest installment in his highly regarded coverage of seismic activity in the northwest.

“Richard has written nearly 100 articles on the Cascadia Subduction Zone during the 13 years he has helped to produce The Oregonian’s weekly science section. In that time, he has earned a reputation as a thorough and astute reporter dedicated to translating science into engaging stories for readers.

“The newspaper’s high standards for covering and reporting on earthquake research were set in 1987 when the science section was the first to report to the public about the threat posed by the subduction zone. Seven years later, Richard was the first to write about research that dated the northwest’s last great earthquake to January 26, 1700. His story appeared more than a year before it was printed in scientific journals. The coverage continued last June with his reporting on the Penrose Conference, which coincided with the tricentennial of that last subduction zone quake.

“Revealing and well-written stories on Earth, ocean, and space sciences have been a primary feature of The Oregonian’s science section. At the time of the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in December, the newspaper will be celebrating the section’s 17th anniversary. The editors have been enthusiastically committed to this section, which has kept the newspaper’s 350,000 daily subscribers up to date with information about the region’s earthquakes, eruptions, and landslides, as well as the latest findings from global warming to Europa’s water.

“Richard, who has been both a reporter and editor in his 30 years in the newspaper business, is responsible for much of the section’s success. He writes a regular feature entitled ‘Geowatch,’ in which he explains such topics as the Mendocino Triple Junction, erupting offshore volcanoes, and the latest ocean-observing satellites. He has produced special sections for the 10th, 15th, and 20th anniversaries of the eruption of Mount St. Helens and has written major articles about the hazards of Mount Hood and Mount Rainier. He has covered such stories as the recent mapping of the floor of Crater Lake and the research a decade ago that took a submersible to the lake’s floor in search of hydrothermal vents.

“Richard is the newspaper’s leading advocate for increasing the public’s awareness about science. To that end, he has spoken to students and other groups about the subject and has been honored by the Oregon Science Teachers Association and the Portland chapter of Sigma Xi, the honorary scientific research organization, for this effort.

“Richard’s ability to describe the wonders and hazards of our corner of the planet has taken readers on an enlightening and entertaining ride. We look forward to more.”

—VICTORIA J. MARTIN, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.


“I am honored to receive this award from the American Geophysical Union. I congratulate AGU for creating this science-writing award, which shines a spotlight on daily science reporting. It is fitting that it is named after David Perlman, who serves as a model for science writers with his energy, enthusiasm, and dedication.

“The story, ‘Quake Forecast Shifts to Land,’ about preliminary research suggesting that the tectonic plates might be locked beneath western Oregon rather than offshore, is one of numerous articles that The Oregonian has featured about the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the past 15 years. I want to thank the scientists who helped me with this story, especially Chris Goldfinger, John Nabelek, and Bob Yeats at Oregon State University. I want to thank all the scientists over the past dozen years who willingly have provided me with their time in aiding me, and our readers, with a better understanding of their work.

“I am grateful for the support of Vicki Martin, the science editor at The Oregonian. She is a vital source of encouragement for me, and her editing skills have come to my rescue on many occasions. The Oregonian has produced a weekly science section for the past 17 years, and I appreciate the support of our editors, who have been committed to covering science and giving it a special place for our readers.”

—RICHARD L. HILL, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.