CU-Boulder students and alumni win Heartland Emmy for video on Pluto

Published: July 26, 2011

A group of current and recently graduated University of Colorado Boulder journalism students won a Heartland Emmy award on Saturday for a video they created while working on the CU Science Update video series.

Alumna Jenna Browder, alumnus Eric Duggan, senior in broadcast production and film studies Greg O'Brien, alumna Sabina Hadzic, alumnae Sara Handing and Amanda Yourick produced the winning episode, called "Pluto -- The Un-Planet," under the direction of journalism instructor Paul Daugherty last fall. The work was part of an advanced-level video editing course.

"When they announced our show as the winner, we were absolutely ecstatic," said Daugherty, who attended the awards ceremony in Denver with O'Brien and Yourick. "It's a brilliant honor for the students and for our program. Not everyone can say he or she won an Emmy while still in college."

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which awards Heartland Emmys, is a nonprofit organization that works to raise industry standards and recognize outstanding achievements in the field. The Heartland chapter of the NATAS was founded in 1986 and serves 11 television industry markets in five states including Denver, Oklahoma City, Topeka and Omaha.

The students' Pluto program was one of only two nominated for a Heartland Emmy award in the student production category. The other piece was submitted by The Art Institute of Colorado.

CU-Boulder Professor Fran Bagenal of the astrophysical and planetary sciences department is featured in "Pluto -- The Un-Planet," discussing the controversial decision to downgrade the status of Pluto to a dwarf planet.

The video also showcases the Space Dust Counter designed, tested and operated by CU-Boulder students. The instrument is now aboard NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto and holds the record for the most distant working dust detector ever to travel through space.

CU Science Update covers the latest happenings in the scientific community. Portions of the show are recorded at the Roser ATLAS Building on campus and others have taken students as far as Yellowstone National Park to cover the subject of volcanoes. Students recently completed the program's 25th episode about human quantitative illiteracy, or the inability to reason with numbers.

CU Science Update may be viewed at and through CU-Boulder iTunes U, a depository of campus-produced educational audio and video, at