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News from the National Academies

Date: Nov. 14, 2010



WASHINGTON  -- The recipients of the 2010 Communication Awards were announced today by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.  Part of the Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious awards recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public.  With support from the W.M. Keck Foundation, these $20,000 prizes have been awarded since 2003.  This year's winners will be honored during a ceremony on Oct. 22 at the Keck Center in Washington, D.C.

Selected from more than 220 print, broadcast, and Internet entries, the recipients of the awards for works published or aired in 2009 are:  


Richard Holmes

Richard Holmes (author) for The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, a delightful glimpse at the dawn of the Modern Age and the links between the worlds of science and literature in the Romantic era (Pantheon Books).


Newspaper/MagazineCharles Duhigg

Charles Duhigg of The New York Times and his series “Toxic Waters,” for compelling investigative environmental reporting that has had important policy impact



Carole and Richard Rifkind

Carole and Richard Rifkind (co-producers and co-directors) for “Naturally Obsessed: The Making of a Scientist,” an insightful and very human portrayal of the excitement and challenges young scientists face in and out of the lab (WNET)



Ed Yong

Ed Yong and his blog “Not Exactly Rocket Science,” for engaging and jargon-free multimedia storytelling about science in the digital age




The following were finalists:

Robin Marantz Henig, writer, "What’s Wrong with Summer Stiers?" (The New York Times Magazine)

Sheila Nevins, executive producer, "The Alzheimer's Project" (HBO Documentary Films)

Mickey Stern, executive producer, "Known Universe" (National Geographic Channel and Base Productions)

Abigail Tucker, writer, "In Search of the Mysterious Narwhal” (Smithsonian Magazine)

The winners of the 2010 awards were selected by a committee of 11 judges:

Barbara Schaal
(committee chair and vice president, National Academy of Sciences), Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor, department of biology, Washington University

Gregory Andorfer, Emmy Award-winning producer of informal science communications for television, IMAX, radio, print, and museums; and former executive director, Maryland Science Center

Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author; professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Pablo J. Boczkowski, associate professor, program in media, technology, and society, department of communication studies, Northwestern University

David K. Campbell, professor of physics and electrical engineering and provost, Boston University

Joe Palca, science correspondent, NPR News

Henry Petroski (member, National Academy of Engineering), Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and professor of history, Duke University; and engineering columnist, American Scientist

Gregory A. Petsko (member, National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine), Gyula and Katica Tauber Professor of Biochemistry, Brandeis University

Cristine Russell, president, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing; and senior fellow, Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

Dan Vergano, science and medical reporter, USA Today

Carl Zimmer, science writer and book author

The Keck Futures Initiative was created in 2003 to encourage interdisciplinary research and is funded by a 15-year, $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation.  Nominations for next year's awards will be accepted beginning Jan. 10, 2011, for works published or broadcast in 2010.  For more information on the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative and the Communication Awards, please visit

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