AAAS Invites Nominations for the New AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science

AAAS invites nominations through 15 October for a new award that will honor exemplary efforts by early career scientists and engineers to engage the public with science and technology.

The new AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science—endowed by Bob and Margee Hazen and other donors—will encourage efforts to promote interactive dialogue between scientists and non-scientific, public audiences. Such efforts might encompass, for example, informal science education, public outreach, mass media communication, science cafés, fairs, exhibits, social media, and many other activities.

Honoring public engagement. Recognizing the increasing importance of the relationship between science and society, Bob Hazen (left) and his wife, Margee (not pictured), were inspired to establish the new AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.

Honoring public engagement. Recognizing the increasing importance of the relationship between science and society, Bob Hazen (left) and his wife, Margee (not pictured), were inspired to establish the new AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.

The award, to include a $5,000 prize and support to attend the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting, is open to individual “early career” scientists and engineers who have been working in their current field for less than seven years (at a pre-tenure or equivalent level). Nominations may be made by AAAS affiliate organizations, universities, government agencies, media, research organizations, and individuals.

The Hazens were inspired to establish the new award because they recognized the increasing importance of issues at the interface of science and society, from disease research to global climate change, evolution, human embryonic stem cell research, neuroscience, and many other issues.

“By recognizing one early-career scientist each year, the award will highlight successful examples of public engagement and create models for other scientists and engineers,” said AAAS Fellow Bob Hazen, a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Geophysical Laboratory who also serves as the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University. “As the major voice for science, AAAS is really in a unique position to give these kinds of efforts the credibility they deserve.”

Bob began talking in 2008 with Margee, an accomplished writer and historian who has co-authored an array of books on American history, technology, and culture, about how they might be able to encourage their colleagues within the scientific community to reach out to the public. He was just completing a term of service on the AAAS Committee on Public Understanding of Science and Technology, and they were both aware, as life-long champions of science communication, how rarely such efforts are rewarded. They decided to establish a fund to endow an annual award.

Soon, other donors also contributed to the award fund begun by the Hazens. Supporters to date have included AAAS CEO and Science Executive Publisher Alan I. Leshner and his wife Agnes; Science Editor-in-Chief Bruce Alberts and his wife Betty; and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. In addition, the Noyce Foundation has contributed support for a special video featuring the award winner.

“Science and technology play a role in all aspects of modern life, but tensions can arise whenever science impinges on personal, political, or world views,” said Alan Leshner, who also directs the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology. “Easing those tensions requires engaging the public, and yet traditional reward systems such as tenure and grants typically have not recognized science communication efforts. This new award will send a powerful message about the value of those activities.”

Nominations will be independently reviewed by a selection committee including Bob Hazen as well as six other public engagement experts: May Berenbaum, Robert Fri, Juan Gilbert, Bruce Lewenstein, James McCarthy, and Nalini Nadkarni.

For additional details regarding eligibility and nomination procedures, please refer to the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science Web site. The award will be administered by AAAS Public Engagement Manager Tiffany Lohwater, tlohwate@aaas.org, 202-326-8737.

Those interested in contributing to the award endowment can make a gift online, or by contacting AAAS Development Director Juli Staiano, jstaiano@aaas.org, 202-326-7028.

Links

Learn more about the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.