Harvard Public Health article on COVID-19 researchers wins top award

A fall 2020 Harvard Public Health magazine article titled “Bearing Witness” has won a Gold Award for Feature Writing from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The article was chosen from among 128 entries in the feature writing category from colleges and universities around the world.

“Bearing Witness” was written by former Harvard Public Health editor Madeline Drexler, who is also a visiting scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The article was published just before the autumn surge of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, at a time when the daily news feed was filled with expert sound bites about the biology of the novel pathogen, and predictions about its capricious path. “Bearing Witness” took a very different approach to the subject: asking Harvard’s frontline public health researchers to share their emotional, spiritual, and philosophical reflections about a crisis that would indelibly stamp their careers and their lives. The result is a collection of highly personal and dramatic 1,000-word firsthand accounts of stress, exhaustion, anger, grief, gratitude, and soul-searching—the often-hidden human side of doing science during an unprecedented public health emergency.

Harvard Chan School researchers featured in the article include Marc Lipsitch, Ashish Jha, Caroline Buckee, Paul Biddinger, Winnie Yip, Michael Mina, Sarah Fortune, Yonatan Grad, Barry Bloom, Dean Michelle Williams, and William Hanage.

The CASE judges commented, “A novel approach to sharing a story about the COVID-19 pandemic, refreshing and powerful with its first-person perspectives from the front line.”

CASE is the premier organization for higher education professionals working in fundraising, marketing, communications, and alumni relations.

Read a CASE press release about the awards: CASE Announces 2021 Circle of Excellence Award Winners