Undark Magazine

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Undark Magazine
Undark logo
Type of site
Online magazine
Available inEnglish
OwnerKnight Science Journalism Fellowships
Founder(s)Deborah Blum and Tom Zeller Jr.
LaunchedMarch 2016; 4 years ago (2016-03)

Undark Magazine is a non-profit, editorially independent online publication exploring science as a "frequently wondrous, sometimes contentious, and occasionally troubling byproduct of human culture."[1] The name Undark is a deliberate reference[2] to a radium-based luminous paint product, also called Undark, that ultimately proved toxic and, in some cases, deadly for the workers who handled it.[3]

The publication's tag line is "Truth, Beauty, Science."[4]

The magazine is published under the auspices of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Undark publishes a mix of long-form journalism, shorter features, essays, op-eds, questions and answers, and book excerpts and reviews. All content is freely available to read, and most is available for republishing by other publications and websites.[5][6] Many large national and international publications, including Scientific American,[7] The Atlantic,[8] Smithsonian,[9] NPR,[10] and Outside [11] have republishing relationships with Undark.

Undark was jointly founded in 2016 by Pulitzer Prize-winning science author Deborah Blum and former New York Times journalist Tom Zeller Jr., who serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine.[12][13][14]


On February 19, 2019, Undark was awarded a prestigious George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting. The award honored photojournalist Larry C. Price and contributing reporters for the magazine's multinational, multipart exposé on global air pollution, called "Breathtaking".[15][16] The series also won the 2019 Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award from the Online News Association.[17]

The magazine's work has also been anthologized in The Best American Science & Nature Writing book series.[18]

In 2017, Undark was a finalist for an Online Journalism Award in the Feature category for its series "Wear & Tear",[19] which explored the global impacts of the leather tanning and textile industries.[20] In 2018, three Undark contributors were named as finalists in the National Association of Science Writers' Science and Society Awards.[21]


  1. ^ "About Undark Magazine". Undark Magazine. Knight Science Journalism Fellowships.
  2. ^ "About Us - Undark". Undark. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  3. ^ Blum, Deborah. "Life in the Undark". WIRED. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  4. ^ "About Us". Undark Magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  5. ^ "Submissions". Undark Magazine. Knight Science Journalism Fellowships.
  6. ^ "Republishing Guidelines". Undark Magazine. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Stories by Undark Magazine". Scientific American. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Articles republished from Undark Magazine". The Atlantic. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  9. ^ "When a Medical "Cure" Makes Things Much, Much Worse". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Why We Should Say Someone Is A 'Person With An Addiction,' Not An Addict". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  11. ^ "The Allure and Perils of Hydropower". Outside Magazine. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Connecting science with society, Undark hopes to help elevate the standards for science journalism". Nieman Labs. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  13. ^ "Can Undark go where no other online science mag has gone before?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Recent and archived work by Tom Zeller Jr. for The New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  15. ^ Undark Magazine "Breathtaking"
  16. ^ "Winners | LIU". Long Island University. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Breathtaking". Online Journalism Awards. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  18. ^ "The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019". HMH Books. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  19. ^ Undark Magazine "Wear & Tear"
  20. ^ "Wear and Tear". Online Journalism Awards. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  21. ^ "2018 Science in Society Journalism Award winners". National Association of Science Writers. Retrieved 21 February 2019.

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