The AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility is presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to honor organizations or individuals (including but not limited to scientists, engineers, or health professionals) who have advanced scientific freedom and responsibility under challenging circumstances. Their exemplary actions advance trustworthy science – science that is conducted and communicated responsibly, upholding the values of scientific freedom and human rights, including the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.
Scientific freedom and responsibility are defined by the AAAS Statement on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility as:
Scientific freedom and scientific responsibility are essential to the advancement of human knowledge for the benefit of all. Scientific freedom is the freedom to engage in scientific inquiry, pursue and apply knowledge, and communicate openly. This freedom is inextricably linked to and must be exercised in accordance with scientific responsibility. Scientific responsibility is the duty to conduct and apply science with integrity, in the interest of humanity, in a spirit of stewardship for the environment, and with respect for human rights.
The types of actions recognized by 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;
- providing an exemplary model for responsible scientist-community collaborations that advance justice and the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress;
- defending the human rights and professional freedom of scientists and engineers under threat;
- Using scientific tools and expertise to promote justice and accountability for grave violations of human rights.
Past winners have included:
- Ricardo Galvão, who lost his job because of his efforts to protect the welfare of the people of Brazil and the Amazon rainforest;
- Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist whose team found the unmarked graves of dozens of children buried at a notorious Florida reform school;
- Dr. Ronald W. Jones, who helped blow the whistle on an unethical experiment and spent decades defending patients’ rights and scientific integrity;
- Dr. Peter Hotez, for his work with scientists and communities to develop and distribute safe, effective, and affordable vaccines against neglected diseases, and advocacy for vaccine science.
While many of the past winners of this recognition are individuals, we recognize that the actions this award seeks to honor often come about because of the actions of many people: members of affected communities; students and early career researchers; human rights and environmental justice activists; and more. For this reason, we encourage a wide variety of organizations and individuals to seek nomination (or nominate themselves) for this award.
The AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility was established in 1980 by the AAAS Board of Directors. Each year, a multidisciplinary selection committee reviews and deliberates on all submitted nomination materials and additional documentation, as appropriate. The committee’s recommendation, together with relevant materials, is presented to the Board of Directors for final consideration and approval.
This award 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.
Nominations may be made by anyone. Self-nominations are accepted for this award.
Nominations may be received for U.S. and non-U.S. individuals and for organizations, for a specific action, for a series of related actions, or for a career-long record of action.
Nominations are made by the completion of a standard form available online. The form requests the following information:
- Name and address of the nominated individual or organization;
- Name and address of the nominator;
- A brief statement (no more than 300 words) describing the action of the nominee which is proposed for recognition;
- General background information, including a vita (if applicable), links to press or other articles relevant to the nomination (not to exceed three pages);
- A list of three references. The references should be familiar with the actions of the nominee which have been proposed for recognition; and
- Given that the review of nominations may require reference checks and discussions about controversial matters, the consent of the individual or organization to be considered for the award should be obtained by the nominator and recorded in the nomination packet.
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.
Ethics and Diversity
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.
All award winners are expected to meet the commonly held standards of professional ethics* and scientific integrity.
*Breaches of professional ethics might include sexual misconduct, racial discrimination, or other ethical violations. Sexual harassment or retaliation for declining, objecting to, or reporting harassment or other sexual conduct may constitute a serious breach of professional ethics.
The deadline for nominations for 2024 is June 30, 2023.
Selection Committee of the 2023 Award
Bartha Maria Knoppers
Member, AAAS Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility
Camille Nebeker, Member ex officio
Chair, AAAS Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility
University of California, San Diego
Justine Germo Nzweundji
University of Michigan
Clare Farne Robinson
Scholars at Risk
Statistics Without Borders
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.