13 October 2022

AAS Members Win National Academies Science Communication Awards

Susanna Kohler

Susanna Kohler American Astronomical Society (AAS)

This article is adapted from a press release and website of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein and Arianna Long, both members of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), are among the inaugural recipients of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication, given by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in partnership with Schmidt Futures. These prestigious awards recognize science journalists and research scientists who have developed creative, original work that addresses issues and advances in science, engineering, and/or medicine for the general public.
A total of 24 awards were announced — 12 awards for best science communication by research scientists and 12 awards for science journalists, split among six categories. In each of the categories, one $40,000 top prize and three $20,000 awards were given, with the winners selected from 550 entries for works published or aired in 2021 through February 2022.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, an assistant professor of physics and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire, received the top prize in the category of Research Scientist: Mid-to Later-Career. Her submitted works included three articles: Enter the Axion, published in American Scientist; Becoming Martian, published in The Baffler; and A Black Femme Dreams in Equations, published in Essence. The prize selection committee writes, "Prescod-Weinstein makes dark matter and astrophysics personally meaningful and fascinating for readers by blending physics and metaphysics in jaw-dropping and beautiful ways. It’s not just science, it’s also literary, it’s worldly, it’s masterful. Exceptional writing on complex topics, done in a voice aimed at marginalized audiences. Reading her writing is a joy."

Arianna Long, formerly a graduate student at University of California, Irvine, and now a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, won an award in the category of Research Scientist: Graduate Student. Her submitted work was an article published in Scientific American: Ancient Galaxy Clusters Offer Clues about the Early Universe. The selection committee writes, "Long conveys a personal sense of excitement and wonder while describing complex scientific tools and methods that are leading to new discoveries and posing large-scale questions to which we don't know the answers. She has done a magical, effective job of combining the science and the personal."
The winners will be honored during a recognition event and workshop on 11 and 12 November in Washington, DC.

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 National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. 

Schmidt Futures bets early on exceptional people making the world better. Founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that brings talented people together in networks to prove out their ideas and solve hard problems in science and society. To learn more about its method and the diverse types of capital and tools it deploys, visit https://www.schmidtfutures.com.