Date:  Oct. 1, 2007

Contacts:  William Skane, Executive Director

Maureen O'Leary, Director of Public Information

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail <>




'In Search of Memory' Wins 2007 Best Book Award From the National Academies;

WNYC's Radio Lab and Writer Carl Zimmer Also Awarded Top Prizes


WASHINGTON -- The National Academies today announced the recipients of its 2007 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 fifth year the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, with the support of the W.M. Keck Foundation, have given the three $20,000 prizes.  The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Nov. 14 at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, Calif. 


Selected from 250 print, broadcast, and Internet entries, the three recipients of the awards for works published or aired in 2006 are:



Eric Kandel, for In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind (W.W. Norton & Co.), a scientist's personal memoir that skillfully blends an explanation of the science of memory.



Carl Zimmer, freelance writer, "Highly Evolved and Exquisitely Thirsty," "Silent Struggle: A New Theory of Pregnancy," "This Can't be Love," and "Devious Butterflies, Full-Throated Frogs, and Other Liars," published in the New York Times; "A Fin is a Limb is a Wing," published in National Geographic; and The Loom, a science blog hosted by Seed Magazine, for his diverse and consistently interesting coverage of evolution and unexpected biology.



Jad Abumrad, host/producer, Robert Krulwich, co-host, and Ellen Horne, senior producer of Radio Lab's "Where Am I?" and "Musical Language," WNYC, New York Public Radio, for their imaginative use of radio to make science accessible to broad audiences.


"We received an impressive group of entries this year and are pleased to recognize the abilities of these individuals in communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public," said Donald Kennedy, editor in chief, Science, and chair of the awards committee.  "We hope these awards inspire others to communicate about science in our world."  


A list of finalists for the awards follows.


Book finalists:

-- Steven Johnson, author of The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World (Riverhead Books)

-- Kathy Sawyer, author of The Rock From Mars: A Detective Story on Two Planets (Random House)


Newspaper/Magazine/Internet finalists:

-- John Mangels, science writer, The Plain Dealer, for his series "Plagued by Fear"

-- Kenneth Weiss, staff writer, Los Angeles Times, for his series "Altered Oceans"


TV/Radio finalist:

-- David Kestenbaum, correspondent, National Public Radio, for "Why the 17th Street Canal Failed"


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 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 Future of Human Healthspan: Demography, Evolution, Medicine, and Bioengineering," to be held Nov. 14-16 in Irvine, Calif.  The conference will bring together selected researchers who specialize in life expectancy and aging to explore how this field intersects with disciplines across science, engineering, and medicine.  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 10 judges:


Donald Kennedy (committee chair and member, National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine), president emeritus, Stanford University, and editor in chief, Science

Barbara J. Culliton (committee vice chair and member, Institute of Medicine), contributing editor, Health Affairs, former deputy editor, Nature, and former news editor, Science


Deborah Blum, freelance writer and professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison

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

Robert W. Lucky (member, National Academy of Engineering), retired corporate vice president for research, Telcordia Technologies Inc., Fair Haven, N.J.


Sherwin B. Nuland, clinical professor of surgery, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

Joe Palca, science correspondent, National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.

Cristine Russell, president, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, New Canaan, Conn.

Curt Suplee, science writer and former science editor, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

Dan Vergano, science and medical reporter, USA Today, McLean, Va., and Nieman Foundation Fellow for Journalism, Harvard University (2008), Boston


Nominations for the 2008 Communication Awards will be accepted beginning Feb. 4, 2008, for work published or broadcast in 2007.  For more information on the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative and the Communication Awards, please visit


Eric Kandel

Carl Zimmer

Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad