Date:  Sept. 5, 2013





The Forest Unseen Wins Best Book Award From National Academies;

Science Magazine, PRI's 'The World,' and USA Today Also Take Top Prizes


WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine announced today the recipients of the 2013 Communication Awards. Supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation since 2003 as part of the Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious annual awards -- each of which includes a $20,000 prize -- recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Oct. 16 at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.


"We had a wide range of outstanding nominees from which to choose," said May Berenbaum, chair of the 11-member communication awards selection committee, an NAS member, and professor and head of entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "The winners are excellent examples of science communication that can inform and engage the public."


Selected from approximately 300 print, broadcast, and online entries, the recipients of this year's awards for works published or aired in 2012 are:



David George Haskell for The Forest Unseen (Viking Penguin)

"…for his exquisite portrait of nature's universe, drawn from one tiny patch of forest."



Joanne Silberner, David Baron, and PRI's "The World" for "Cancer's Lonely Soldier," "Pink Ribbons to Haiti," "An Ounce of Prevention," and "The Infectious Connection"

"…for shining a light on the hidden toll cancer takes in impoverished nations, killing more people than HIV, malaria, and TB combined."



Eliot Marshall, Elizabeth Culotta, Ann Gibbons, and Greg Miller at Science for their stories "Parsing Terrorism," "Roots of Racism," "The Ultimate Sacrifice," and "Drone Wars," which appeared in a special issue on human conflict (May 18, 2012)

"…for an articulate, wide-ranging examination of what social scientists have learned about human violence, conflict, and terrorism."



Alison Young and Peter Eisler (reporters), John Hillkirk (content editor), and the entire team at USA TODAY for the series "Ghost Factories"

"…for a nationwide investigation of abandoned lead factories that armed reporters and citizens with the knowledge and technology to recognize threats in their own backyards."


The following were finalists:


David Quammen for Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (W.W. Norton and Co.)


Paula Apsell and Sarah Holt for “Cracking Your Genetic Code” (WGBH/NOVA and Holt Productions)


Nell Greenfield-Boyce and Alison Richards for “Scientists Take Cautious Tack on Bird Flu Research,” “Scientists Debate How to Conduct Bird Flu Research,” “Bird Flu Studies Getting Another Round of Scrutiny by Panel,” and “Bird Flu Researchers to Meet About Research Moratorium” (NPR)


Jeff Montgomery, Molly Murray, and Dan Garrow for "Climate Change Puts Coast in Crosshairs," The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.


            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 the 2014 Communication Awards will be accepted in early 2014 for work published or broadcast in 2013.  For more information on the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative and the Communication Awards, please visit  For more information about the W.M. Keck Foundation, please visit


            Members of the media who would like to attend this year’s awards ceremony on Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C., should email to receive complimentary tickets.


            The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.  The Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  For more information, visit




William J. Skane, Executive Director

Molly Galvin, Senior Media Officer

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