News Release

NAS announces 2008 Communication Award winners

Grant and Award Announcement

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

WASHINGTON -- The National Academies today announced the recipients of its 2008 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 sixth year that 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 $20,000 prizes. The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Nov. 13 at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, Calif.

Selected from more than 200 print, broadcast, and Internet entries, the recipients of the awards for works published or aired in 2007 are:


Walter Isaacson for EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE (Simon & Schuster), a comprehensive and scholarly ambitious look at the life and mind of the pre-eminent scientific figure of the 20th century.


Bob Marshall, Mark Schleifstein, Dan Swenson, and Ted Jackson for LAST CHANCE: THE FIGHT TO SAVE A DISAPPEARING COAST (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans), an outstanding newspaper series that combines superb storytelling with the latest science in its call to action to save Louisiana's wetlands.


George Butler (director), White Mountain Films, Kennedy-Marshall Films and Walt Disney Company for ROVING MARS, a spectacular film that chronicles the science and engineering behind the Mars rovers and follows their breathtaking search for water on the red planet. ROVING MARS is made with the cooperation of The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA. It is presented as a public service by Lockheed Martin.


Alan Boyle, science editor, for selected works from COSMIC LOG and his pioneering efforts to bring daily coverage of the physical sciences, technological innovation and space sciences to broad new audiences on a popular news web site.

The following were finalists.



  • Joseph McMaster (writer, producer, and director), Gary Johnstone (producer, director), Richard Hutton (executive producer), and Paula Apsell (senior executive producer) for WGBH/NOVA and Vulcan Productions' JUDGMENT DAY: INTELLIGENT DESIGN ON TRIAL

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 award recipients will be honored during this year's FUTURES conference, "Complex Systems," to be held Nov. 12-15 in Irvine, Calif. The conference will bring together selected researchers to explore complex systems such as ecosystems, financial markets, communication networks and biology. 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 11 judges:

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

Gregory Andorfer, Emmy-winning producer, and former executive director, Maryland Science Center, Baltimore

Pablo J. Boczkowski, associate professor, program in media, technology and society, department of communication studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author; professor, school of journalism and mass communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Barbara J. Culliton (member, Institute of Medicine), contributing editor, HEALTH AFFAIRS; former deputy editor, NATURE; and former news editor, SCIENCE

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

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

Henry Petroski (member, National Academy of Engineering), Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering, and professor of history, Duke University; and engineering columnist, AMERICAN SCIENTIST

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

Dan Vergano, science and medical reporter, USA TODAY, McLean, Va., and Nieman Foundation Fellow for Journalism, Harvard University

Carl Zimmer, science writer and author, Guilford, Conn.


Nominations for the 2009 Communication Awards will be accepted beginning Feb. 2, 2009, for work published or broadcast in 2008. For more information on the National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE and the Communication Awards, please visit

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