Jeff Burnside

Independent Journalist and SEJ Board Member

Jeff Burnside, an SEJ board member, is an independent journalist working on his debut documentary film "First Contact, Lost Treasures." He was a 2017-18 Scripps Journalism Fellow at the Center for Environmental Journalism, University of Colorado in Boulder. He has been in the news business for more than 20 years working as an investigative reporter, general assignment reporter, executive producer and segment producer in cities such as Boston (WCVB Chronicle), Miami (WTVJ Special Projects Unit) and most recently, Seattle, as senior investigative reporter for KOMO 4 News. He's won more than 20 journalism awards — for television news, newspaper reporting and photography — including 10 regional Emmys. Jeff is also a frequent invited speaker and panelist on environmental journalism, journalism ethics and media training. He's earned working media fellowships at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Tromso, Norway), Heinrich Boell Institute for green energy (Berlin), Steinbrenner Institute for climate science (Carnegie Mellon University), Reynolds Center for Business Journalism on the green economy (Cronkite School at Arizona State University), Metcalf Institute for Environmental Reporting (University of Rhode Island) and the Western Knight Center for Specialized Reporting in political coverage (University of Southern California Annenberg School). He serves as a judge for Meeman and Oakes awards.

Jeff is speaking at

October 10, 2019
6:00 am - 5:00 pm


  • Jeff Burnside (Tour Leader) Independent Journalist and SEJ Board Member
  • Grace Hood (Tour Leader) Energy and Environment Reporter, Colorado Public Radio
  • Derek Berry (Speaker) Senior Engineer, National Renewable Energy Lab, and Director of the Wind Turbine Technology Area, Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation
  • Joseph Berry (Speaker) Senior Scientist, Perovskite and Hybrid Solar Cells Team Lead, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Nicholas Brunhart-Lupo (Speaker) Computational Scientist, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Bryon Donohoe (Speaker) Senior Scientist, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Matthew Futch (Speaker) Business Development Director and Energy Regulatory Expert, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Kenny Gruchalla (Speaker) Senior Scientist, Scientific Visualization, Computational Science Center, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Andrew Hudgins (Speaker) User Program Integrator, Energy Systems Integration Facility, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Eric Karp (Speaker) Senior Chemical Engineer, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Martin Keller (Speaker) Director, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Daniel Laird (Speaker) Director, National Wind Technology Center, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Dave Moore (Speaker) Scientist and Director’s Fellow, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Nicholas Rorrer (Speaker) Researcher III - Polymer Engineering and Biomaterials Development, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • David Sickinger (Speaker) Researcher III - High Performance Computing, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • David Simms (Speaker) Research Operations Director, National Wind Technology Center, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Robert Tenent (Speaker) Researcher V-Materials Science, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Paul Veers (Speaker) Chief Engineer, National Wind Technology Center, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Lance Wheeler (Speaker) Researcher III-Materials Science, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Bryan Willson (Speaker) Executive Director and Founder, Energy Institute, Colorado State University


(6:00 a.m. departure, $45 fee, lunch included)

This tour is full. If you wish to be put on the waiting list, contact Kevin Beaty.

There may be no single location with as many story ideas than the renowned National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, where the planet's future just might be saved. The executive director and founder of the Energy Institute at Colorado State University will brief journalists on the bus about the differences between 100 percent renewable and carbon-free goals, and what challenges lie ahead. Journalists will hear from the NREL director on the transformation of the energy sector happening now. And you'll be amazed at demonstrations from scientists of jaw-dropping renewable energy technology. Will your windows or the paint on your house become energy collectors? They're working on it here. Corporations are embedded with the Lab to bring technology to market. We'll visit a net-zero office building, a smart appliance lab and a test wind farm. Bring your camera and an extra notepad. Total drive time: 3 hours. A good option for those with limited mobility.

IMPORTANT: The National Renewable Energy Lab requires security checks on all visitors. Therefore, domestic journalists must register online by October 3; deadline for international journalists was September 1.

Advance registration is required for all Thursday tours. Attendance on each tour is strictly limited, so registering early is important. All Thursday tours will return to the Lory Student Center at about 5:00 p.m.

Note: The National Renewable Energy Lab is providing lunch for this tour.

IMPORTANT DEPARTURE INFORMATION: Please meet your tour leaders near the SEJ registration desk on the third floor of the Lory Student Center at the listed departure time to check-in for your tour. Eat breakfast at your hotel before arrival or plan to purchase breakfast at the Lory Student Center food court, which opens at 7:00 a.m.; coffee and snacks will be provided for tours that depart before the food court opens. Each tour will leave the ballroom as a group to board buses at a nearby location. Do not be late.

October 11, 2019
2:15 pm - 3:30 pm
Room 300, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Jeff Burnside (Moderator) Independent Journalist and SEJ Board Member
  • Maia Bellon (Speaker) Director, Department of Ecology, State of Washington
  • Lindsay Ex (Speaker) Climate Program Manager, City of Fort Collins
  • David Rossini (Speaker) The Public Interest Network


As the Trump administration continues to dismantle strides made to fight the climate crisis, some states, cities and even corporations are not waiting for federal leadership anymore. We’ve assembled a panel of experts representing top national success stories who will speak directly to the accelerating efforts from the “bottom up” climate fight. This is a topic that can be applied to any news market for journalists attending this panel. Don’t miss it.

October 12, 2019
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Grand Ballroom, CSU's Lory Student Center



We work hard throughout the year to not only get the stories, but to get them right. And, for what? Awards, of course! Now it’s time to shift the spotlight on ourselves for a moment while we honor the best environmental reporting of 2018 at SEJ’s Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment, including the first Ray Reece "Excellence in Environmental Journalism" Student Award and the second annual $10,000 Nina Mason Pulliam Award for the best of the best. We’ll kick off the celebration with an eye-opening look at the best environmental photography from the past year.

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