Date: Sept. 22, 2005
Contacts: Maureen O'Leary, Director of Public Information
Chris Dobbins, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail <>

'The Great Influenza' Wins 2005 Best Book Award From the National Academies;
WGBH NOVA's 'Origins' and The Boston Globe Also Awarded Top Prizes

WASHINGTON -- The National Academies today announced the recipients of its 2005 Communication Awards. Part of the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious awards recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. This is the third year the National Academies have given the three $20,000 prizes. The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Nov. 10 at the Academies' Beckman Center in Irvine, Calif.

Selected from 219 print, radio, and broadcast entries, the recipients of the awards for works published in 2004 are:
"It is an honor to recognize the achievements of these individuals, and the vital role they play in improving the public's understanding of science, engineering, and medicine," said Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "We hope these awards inspire many others to report clearly and creatively about the world we live in." A list of finalists for the awards follows.

Book finalists:
-- David Goodstein, author of "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil" (W.W. Norton & Co.)
-- Brian Greene, author of "The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and Texture of Reality" (Alfred A. Knopf)

Newspaper/Magazine/Internet finalists:
-- Tom Knudson, Edie Lau, and Mike Lee, staff writers, The Sacramento Bee, for "Seeds of Doubt," a series of articles on genetically altered plants
-- Carl Zimmer, author and freelance writer, for his essays and articles "What Came Before DNA?" and "Whose Life Would You Save?" for Discover magazine; "Those Fall Outfits May be Saving Trees" for The New York Times; "My Darwinian Daughters" and "The Whale and the Antibody" for Loom

TV/Radio finalists:
-- Carlo Massarella, producer/director, WNET Thirteen, "DNA: The Human Race"
-- Jon Palfreman, producer/director, WNET Thirteen, "Innovation: Light Speed"

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. The initiative also sponsors conferences to bring together outstanding researchers from many fields to pose new questions and share ideas for cross-disciplinary projects.

The award recipients will be honored during this year's Futures Initiative conference, "The Genomic Revolution: Implications for Treatment and Control of Infectious Disease," to be held Nov. 10-13 in Irvine, Calif. The conference will bring together selected scientists, engineers, and medical researchers who specialize in genomics to explore how this field intersects with various disciplines. Conference participants will have the opportunity to compete for grants to pursue new lines of cross-disciplinary research.

The winners of the communication awards were selected by a committee of nine judges:

-- Barbara J. Culliton (committee chair and member, Institute of Medicine) deputy editor, Health Affairs, Bethesda, Md.

-- David Clark, producer/director, David Clark Inc., Bethesda, Md.

-- Peter Dykstra, executive producer, CNN Science and Technology, Atlanta

-- Samuel C. Florman (member, National Academy of Engineering) chairman, Kreisler Borg Florman Construction Co., Scarsdale, N.Y.

-- Peggy Girshman, assistant managing editor, National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.

-- George Strait, associate vice chancellor, University of California, Berkeley

-- Lubert Stryer (member, National Academy of Sciences) Winzer Professor Emeritus,
-- Curt Suplee, science writer and former science editor for The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

-- Abigail Trafford, author, and columnist for The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

Nominations for the 2006 Communication Awards will be accepted beginning Feb. 1, 2006, for work published or broadcast in 2005. For more information on the Futures Initiative and the communication awards, please visit