Skip to main content

AAAS Honors Leaders in Research, Education, and Public Engagement

AAAS has named the winners of ten prestigious awards in the fields of research, education, and public service, citing the winners' leadership, their deep commitment to discovery, and their positive impact in fostering public engagement with science.

The winners will receive their awards at a 13 February ceremony at the 181st AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, Calif.:

The Newcomb Cleveland Prize: The winning Science paper, whose lead researchers are from the University of Rochester Medical Center, shows that during sleep the brain clears out harmful toxins that build up during the day.

The Philip Hauge Abelson Award: Bruce Alberts, president emeritus of the National Academy of Sciences and a former editor-in-chief of the journal Science, was honored for his "exemplary leadership and creativity in science and technology for the national welfare," for "inspiring young people to pursue distinguished careers in the sciences," and for "opening new frontiers in education and public policy."

The Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award: Omid Kokabee, an Iranian graduate student in physics at the University of Texas at Austin who was imprisoned for refusing to contribute to weapons research in his home country, was honored "for his courageous stand and willingness to endure imprisonment rather than violate his moral stance that his scientific expertise not be used for destructive purposes and for his efforts to provide hope and education to fellow prisoners."

AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy: Zafra M. Lerman, creator and advocate for the Biennial Malta Conferences, which promote international scientific cooperation and diplomacy by convening scientists from 15 Middle Eastern nations, was honored by AAAS for her efforts to "elevate the use of scientific cooperation as an instrument of peace, and as a pathway to better understand the role of science in addressing major societal challenges in the broader Middle East, despite the political barriers that exist at the official levels."

The Public Engagement with Science Award: James Kakalios, a professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who has used comic books and superhero movies to explain concepts from Newton's laws of physics to quantum mechanics, was honored for  "the unique ways he communicates the ideas and excitement of physics" and stimulates members of the general public to learn more about developments in science and technology that shape their lives.

Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science: Shane Bergin, physicist and educator at Ireland's Trinity College Dublin who spearheaded a public-engagement campaign on Dublin's rapid-transit system to generate interest in science and science careers, was honored for his "remarkable talent for promoting physics to the general public and potential students of physics."

The Lifetime Mentor Award: Barbara A. Horwitz, distinguished professor of neurobiology, physiology, and behavior at the University of California, Davis, was honored for her transformative impact towards creating a diverse doctorate workforce in the field of physiology. In her roles as professor, department chair, and vice provost for academic personnel/affairs, Horwitz has contributed to the success of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as junior faculty, throughout her career.

The Mentor Award: Juan E. Gilbert, the Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Chair and associate chair of research in the Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the University of Florida, was honored for dramatically increasing the number of African Americans pursuing doctoral degrees in computer science. To date, he has mentored a total of 41 African-American students who have earned computer science doctoral degrees, surpassing many of his peers.

AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books: Four groundbreaking books that present scientific information in innovative ways to young audiences earned the 2015 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books.