Liza Gross

2013 Winner

Gross is a freelance journalist and part-time editor at the journal PLOS Biology, a contributor to Environmental Health News and blogger for KQED Science, Northern California’s public media outlet. Her work, which focuses mostly on conservation, environment and health issues, has appeared in diverse outlets, including The Washington Post, Scientific American, High Country News and San Francisco Chronicle. After a training stint at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, she uncovered a $23 million chemical industry lobbying campaign to block California legislators’ attempts to pass five bills to regulate flame retardants in a special report for Environmental Health News. Her story “No beba el agua,” about the disproportionate burden decades of nitrate contamination from California’s $37 billion farming industry places on poor Latino farm workers, is part of EHN’s Pollution, Poverty, People of Color series, which received Honorable Mention in the Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.

With the help of the Reporting Award, Gross will delve further into the social, economic and health inequities endured by California farm workers living amid some of the richest farmland in the country. For years, researchers have known that people living in these communities routinely encounter a broad range of environmental hazards, not just in the fields where they harvest fruits and vegetables but also in their homes, where nitrates, pesticides and other contaminants foul their tap water. Gross will combine data-driven reporting techniques with in-depth community interviews to investigate the impact of these environmental stresses on the welfare of the people living in these communities.