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AAAS Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science

Headshot of Rashawn Ray, 2022 Mani L Bahumik Awardee

The AAAS Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science, formerly the AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology, was established in 1987 to recognize scientists and engineers who demonstrate excellence in their contribution to public engagement with science. The recipient receives a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and recognition at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

Beginning with the 2019 award year, the award is endowed by and named for quantum physicist Mani L. Bhaumik. Bhaumik is internationally known for the advances he made to excimer laser technology, which eventually led to Lasik eye surgery. He hopes to elevate the recognition of working and retired scientists for their exceptional efforts to communicate science in ways that inform and engage the public.

Under the auspices of this endowment, the award has an increased and renewed focus on public engagement. Public engagement activities emphasize dialogue with various publics and often result from a public interaction, request, or need. Specifically, these activities are defined as the individual’s active participation in efforts to engage with the public on science- and technology-related issues and promote meaningful exchanges between science and society.

Nominations

Visit the awards nomination site from April 15 through June 30, 2022 11:59 ET, to nominate a scientist or engineer for the 2023 award, to be honored at the 2023 AAAS Annual Meeting.

Inquiries may be directed to public_engagement@aaas.org.

Eligibility

  • Nominations may be made by individuals, universities, government agencies, media, research organizations, and AAAS affiliate organizations. One nominator can nominate multiple candidates.
  • Editors from publishing houses may only offer one nomination.
  • Self-nominations are permitted.
  • Prior nomination does not exclude a nominee applying in subsequent years. Re-nomination is encouraged.
  • Nominee must be an individual scientist, mathematician, or engineer. Groups or institutions will not be considered for this award. 
  • AAAS employees are ineligible.
  • Eligible nominees include active or retired scientists and engineers from all disciplines (including social sciences, mathematics, engineering, and medicine) who have contributed substantially to the public's engagement with science or technology. They may be based in academia, government or industry. Public engagement activities must be above and beyond job responsibilities.
  • Nominees considered “early career” may be eligible for the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.  Early career is defined as an individual who has completed their terminal degree within seven years of the deadline for nominations.

Required Materials

All nominations must be submitted electronically through our nomination site. If you require an alternate format, please email. Nominations and supporting materials will not be accepted by email or by post.

Nominations and materials must be in English.

You will be asked to provide:

  • Name, email address, institution, position, professional address and phone number of the nominee.
  • Name, email address, institution, position, professional address and phone number of the nominator (if not a self-nomination). 
  • Nomination statement describing the public engagement activities that form the basis for the nomination.
    • This statement of no more than 2 pages should discuss the nominee’s approach to public engagement.  It should emphasize the nominee’s public engagement goal(s), intended audience(s), and message(s), as well as the level and type of dialogue achieved with their audiences, evaluation of public engagement work, and examples of how public engagement has affected the nominee’s scientific work. 
    • More information about AAAS’s approach to public engagement is available in the Communication Toolkit.
  • The nominee’s curriculum vitae
    • Limit CV to five pages, with a specific section highlighting public engagement activities distinct from work that is required as part of the nominee’s job. If the CV is longer than five pages, only the first five pages will be considered.
  • At least two (up to five) representative samples or other documentation which illustrate or describe the nominee’s public engagement contributions
    • Samples should exhibit the activities discussed in the statement and further contribute to the narrative of the nomination, showing different representations of the breadth of their public engagement.
    • Letters of support (up to two) are optional and count toward the five sample/document limit. Letters should provide more insight into the candidate's public engagement and discuss their accomplishments and can be written by a colleague, supervisor, or participant. 
  • If the nominee uses social media as part of their public engagement work, there will be a space to include all relevant accounts

All materials submitted become the property of AAAS.

 

Selection and Criteria

  • One scientist or engineer will be chosen to receive the award each year and will be announced at the AAAS Annual Meeting.
  • Successful nominees will have demonstrated excellence in their contributions to public engagement with science activities, with a focus on interactive dialogue between the individual and their audience(s).
    • Types of public engagement activities might include but are not limited to: informal science education; public engagement and public dialogue activities, such as science cafés and science festivals; public policy activities; science communication activities, such as mass media, including radio, TV, books, and film; and social media.
  • The selection committee includes distinguished scientists, engineers, and public engagement practitioners named by AAAS. Decisions of the committee are final after approval by the board.
  • AAAS may ask winners to contribute to public engagement with science by speaking to groups of AAAS constituencies, helping to identify scientists to participate in AAAS engagement events, and participating in other AAAS activities related to public engagement with science.
  • ​​​The award selection committee will evaluate nominations through the questions below.  Nominees will possibly excel in one category more than others. 

  1. Does the candidate demonstrate active participation in public engagement activities?
  2. Does the candidate approach public engagement work thoughtfully and strategically?
  3. Does the candidate reach a critical audience(s)?
  4. Does the candidate use appropriate and innovative messages to address important topic(s)?
  5. Does the candidate approach engagement in thoughtful and/or innovative ways?
  6. Does the candidate demonstrate a focus on active engagement with the audience(s)?
  7. Does the candidate’s public engagement have a high impact
  8. Does the candidate demonstrate excellence in their field of research?

2022 Recipient

Rashawn Ray, Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, has been awarded the 2022 Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Ray is an internationally recognized expert on racial and social inequality, with a focus on police-civilian relations and men’s treatment of women. Among the key goals of his research is to assess how racial, class, and gender inequality can be reduced, at the policy, community, and interpersonal levels.

During an interview with AAAS, Ray explained how he grew interested in researching social inequality. “It probably goes back to seeing some of my friends who were just as smart as me, if not smarter, who didn’t have certain opportunities,” he said. “I am one of the tokenized lucky ones. Yet, people shouldn’t need luck or to be a token. They need equity. Research documents that race, gender, and social class operate as a leg-up or as intersectional bootstraps. I want to continue to provide more nuance to understanding factors that contribute to these inequitable phenomena and help build a truly equitable society.”

Please view the complete list of past recipients.

AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science

Nominees considered "early-career" might be eligible for the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.

AAAS Awards

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

Ethics Statement

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.

Diversity Statement

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, including a wide range of disciplines, institutional types, and geographic locations.