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AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility

The 2023 AAAS Awards nomination period is closed. Dates for 2024 nominations will be announced soon.

The AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility is presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to honor scientists, engineers, and their organizations whose exemplary actions have demonstrated scientific freedom and/or 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 and 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 lifetime 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.

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. scientists and for organizations, for a specific action, for a series of related actions, and a career-long record of action. Nominations may be received for distinguished scientists or scholars, though that is not a requirement for award selection.

Nomination Procedures

Nominations are made by the completion of a standard form available online. The form requests the following information:

  • Name and address of the nominee;
  • 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 about the nominee, including a vita, 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 nominee 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 is June 30, 2022, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Selection Committee of the 2023 Award

Bartha Maria Knoppers
McGill University
Member, AAAS Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility

Kevin LaBar
Duke University

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

Smita Skrivanek
Statistics Without Borders


Past Recipients

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.