National Academies announce winners of 2018 Communication Awards

WASHINGTON — The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced today the recipients of the 2018 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. 11 in Washington, D.C.

"Congratulations to this year's winners, who collectively communicated so engagingly and effectively about a remarkable diversity of scientific subjects," 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. "It's our honor to recognize their outstanding contributions to science communication and to thank them for helping to expand public understanding of science in America."

Selected from 364 entries for works published or aired in 2017, the recipients of this year's awards, along with each category's finalists, are:

Book

Winner:

Dan Egan for "The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" (W.W. Norton & Co.)

"An environmental, historical, and economic analysis, thoroughly researched and compellingly told, of America's Great Lakes and the unintended consequences of short-sighted management decisions."

Finalists:

  • David Baron for "American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World" (Liveright Publishing Corp./W.W. Norton & Co.)
  • Richard Harris for "Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions" (Basic Books/Hachette Book Group)
  • Sam Kean for "Caeser's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us" (Back Bay Books/Little, Brown, and Co.)
  • Jonathan White for "Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean" (Trinity University Press)

Film/Radio/TV

Winner:

Emer Reynolds, John Murray, and Clare Stronge of Crossing the Line Productions and Sean B. Carroll and John Rubin of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios for "The Farthest–Voyager in Space"

"A fascinating and visually arresting telling of the story of NASA's decades-long Voyager mission, showcasing the accounts of project participants in their own words and conveying the challenges of engineering problem-solving and the importance of teamwork in the discovery process."

Finalists:

  • John Hoffman, Jon Bardin, and Michael Epstein of the Discovery Channel for "First in Human – Episode 101 'Admission'"
  • Wendy Zukerman, Kaitlyn Sawrey, Heather Rogers, and Shruti Ravindran of Gimlet Media for select episodes of the podcast "Science Vs."

Newspaper/Magazine

Winner:

Ann Gibbons, Emily Underwood, Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, and John Bohannon of Science Magazine for a package of articles on human migration: "Busting Myths of Origin," "The Pain of Exile," "Battling Bias," and "Restless Minds"

"A multidisciplinary and multidimensional examination of human migration, past and present, that is timely, cogent, and rich in stories that connect to the science in unexpected and thought-provoking ways."

Finalists:

  • Ross Andersen of the Atlantic for "Welcome to Pleistocene Park"
  • Douglas Fox of High Country News for "Firestorm"
  • Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for "Origin – Special Report" on zoonotic diseases
  • Robin Marantz Henig of National Geographic for "How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender"
  • Fran Smith of National Geographic for "The Addicted Brain"

Online

Winner:

Nina Martin, Adriana Gallardo, and Annie Waldman of ProPublica and Renee Montagne of NPR for "Lost Mothers"

"A powerful series that illuminates the disproportionate incidence of maternal deaths in America, a shamefully neglected area of medicine, with scrupulous documentation and solid, heartbreaking storytelling."

Finalists:

  • Jonathan Corum, Graham Roberts, Evan Grothjan, Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, Justin Gillis, Derek Watkins, and Jeremy White of the New York Times for "Antarctic Dispatches" and "The Antarctica Series"
  • Ed Yong of the Atlantic for "Animalism"

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 2019 for work published or broadcast in 2018. For more information on the Futures Initiative and the Communication Awards, please visit http://www.keckfutures.org. For more information about the W.M. Keck Foundation, please visit http://www.wmkeck.org.

The awards ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will take place beginning at 5:30 p.m. EST on Oct. 11 at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C. For information on how to attend, e-mail [email protected] by Oct. 2.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using #NASEMCommAward.

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.

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