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AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility

The Award is presented annually by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to honor scientists and engineers, or their organizations, whose exemplary actions have demonstrated scientific freedom and responsibility in challenging circumstances.

The types of actions worthy of this award include acting to protect the public's health, safety or welfare; focusing public attention on important potential impacts of science and technology on society by their responsible participation in public policy debates; or providing an exemplary model in carrying out the social responsibilities of scientists, engineers or in defending the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.

Some awardees have risked their freedom and even physical safety by their actions, while others have been honored for their advocacy and their leadership. Some have been recognized for a life-time of service and devotion to the values honored by the scientific community, and others for a particular act or instance in which they fostered scientific freedom and responsibility. Although some award winners are distinguished scientists or scholars, this is not a requirement for award selection.

This annual award was established in 1980 and consists of a prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, complimentary registration, and reimbursement for travel and hotel expenses to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting.

All nominations are reviewed by a selection committee, which consists of five members chosen for diversity of background and sensitivity to the activities honored by this award. The committee’s selection must be endorsed by the AAAS Board of Directors at their fall meeting.

Nomination Procedures

Nominations should be sent via postal mail or email to Required documentation includes:

  • Nominator's contact information (including email, address, and phone number)
  • Nominee's name and title, institutional affiliation, and contact information
  • A summary of the action(s) that form the basis for the nomination (about 250 words)
  • A longer statement (no more than three pages) providing additional details of the action(s) for which the candidate is nominated
  • The nominee's CV(no more than three pages)
  • Optional: Any documentation (books, articles, or other materials) that illuminates the significance of the nominee’s achievement
  • Optional: Letters of support

Nomination materials must be received in English; all materials become the property of AAAS. The award is open to all regardless of nationality or citizenship. Nominees must be living at the time of their nomination. 

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is committed to equal opportunity for all persons, without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or other protected categories. AAAS seeks as diverse a pool of award nominations as possible from a wide range of disciplines, institutional types, and geographical locations. 


Please submit all information by email to, or by postal mail to:

AAAS Center of Science, Policy and Society Programs
Attention: Deborah Runkle
1200 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Deborah Runkle
Phone: 202-326-6794
Fax: 202-289-4950


All materials must be received by 1 August.

Past Recipients

The 2018 award was given to Marc Edwards for his efforts to apply his engineering expertise to revealing dangerous levels of lead contamination in water supplies in Flint, Michigan.

List of past recipients.

Each year, AAAS recognizes significant contributions to science and the public’s understanding of science. Learn more about these awards and nominate a scientist, engineer, author, journalist or public servant for their outstanding work.