Date: Sept. 8, 2016


The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey Wins Best Book Award From Academies; NPR, Mother Jones, ProPublica Also Take Top Prizes


WASHINGTON -- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced today the recipients of the 2016 Communication Awards.  Supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation since 2003 as part of the Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious 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. 26 in Washington, D.C.


"We received a record number of entries this year, and selecting the winners among so many outstanding nominees was challenging," said May Berenbaum, NAS member and chair of the awards selection committee, and professor and head of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  "The winning entries represent science communication at its finest and exemplify the ability of science writers to engage, inform, and inspire the public."


Selected from 374 entries for works published or aired in 2015, the recipients of this year's awards are:



Deborah Cramer for The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey (Yale University Press)

"A beautifully written natural history of an imperiled bird that embeds evolutionary biology and systematics, marine ecology, physiology, natural history, paleontology, cultural history, and immunology in an absorbing, personal narrative"



NPR's Christopher Joyce and Alison Richards, with Bill McQuay of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, for the seven-part series "Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound"

"A powerful showcase for radio and for studying sound to understand nature"



David Ferry and Mother Jones for "The Fever: How the Government Put Tens of Thousands of People at Risk of a Deadly Disease"

"A compelling account of a medical mystery and social injustice"



ProPublica's Abrahm Lustgarten, Naveena Sadasivam, Al Shaw, and David Sleight for the six-part series "Killing the Colorado"

"An outstanding interactive review of how decades of avarice, ignorance, and indifference led to an environmental disaster"



Robert Lee Hotz and the Wall Street Journal in the online category for the six-part series "Demographic Destiny"


The National Academies 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 Communication Awards will be accepted in early 2017 for work published or broadcast in 2016.  For more information on the Futures Initiative and the Communication Awards, please visit  For more information about the W.M. Keck Foundation, please visit


The awards ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Oct. 26 at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.  To register to attend, please click here by Oct. 14; e-mail questions to


The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.  The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.



William J. Skane, Executive Director

Molly Galvin, Senior Media Officer

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail

Twitter: @theNASEM

RSS feed:



#          #          #