Date:  Sept. 9, 2014




Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation Wins Best Book Award From National Academies;

NPR, New York Times, and Seattle Times Also Take Top Prizes


WASHINGTON -- The recipients of the 2014 Communication Awards were announced today by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine.  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. 15 at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.


"We received a record number of submissions on a diverse array of topics," said May Berenbaum, NAS member and chair of the communication awards selection committee, and professor and head of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Whatever the medium -- print, broadcast, or Internet -- these authors succeeded in making both the process and products of contemporary science not just accessible but absolutely captivating."


Selected from 335 entries, the recipients of this year's awards for works published or aired in 2013 are:



Dan Fagin for his book Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation (Bantam Books, a division of Random House Inc.)

"for its masterful portrayal of the scientific process at work in a town facing environmental crisis"



Rob Stein and NPR for the six-part radio series "Staying Healthy May Mean Learning to Love Our Microbes"

"for an enlightening exploration of the multifaceted dimensions of the human microbiome"



Dennis Overbye, The New York Times, for "Chasing the Higgs" (March 5, 2013)

"for capturing the excitement of the scientific hunt for the Higgs boson"



Craig Welch (reporter) and Steve Ringman (photographer) at the Seattle Times for the series "Sea Change: The Pacific's Perilous Turn"

"for a stunning multimedia investigation of the consequences of worldwide ocean acidification"


The following were finalists:

·         David Epstein -- The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance (The Penguin Group) -- book

·         Lisa Jarvis, "Orphans Find a Home," Chemical & Engineering News -- newspaper/magazine



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 Communication Awards will be accepted in early 2015 for work published or broadcast in 2014. 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. 15 in Washington, D.C., should email by Oct. 3, to receive complimentary tickets (limited seats available: first come, first-served basis).


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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