'1491' wins 2006 Best Book Award from the National Academies

Lion Television's 'Ape to Man' and the New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert also awarded top prizes

WASHINGTON -- The National Academies today announced the recipients of its 2006 Communication Awards. Part of the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious awards recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. This is the fourth year the National Academies have given the three $20,000 prizes. The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Nov. 9 at the Academies' Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, Calif.

Selected from 252 print, radio, and broadcast entries, the recipients of the awards for works published or broadcast in 2005 are:


Charles Mann, author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Alfred A. Knopf), for his engaging and thought-provoking rediscovery of the early human history of our continent.


Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer, The New Yorker, for her authoritative treatment of the science and politics of global climate change in the three-part series "The Climate of Man."


Nic Young, director, Anna Thomson, producer, and Bill Locke, executive producer, for Lion Television's "Ape to Man," an accurate and entertaining overview of human evolution made accessible to broad audiences.

"It is an honor to recognize the achievements of these individuals, and the vital role they play in improving the public's understanding of science, engineering, and medicine," said Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "We hope these awards inspire many others to report clearly and creatively about the world we live in."

A list of finalists for the awards follows.

Book finalists:

  • Sean Carroll, author of Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom (W.W. Norton & Co.)

  • Marla Cone, author of Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic (Grove Atlantic)

Newspaper/Magazine/Internet finalists:

  • Michelle Nijhuis, writer, High Country News, for her series "Hot Times: Global Warming in the West"

  • Anthony Wood, reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer, for "A Mighty Stream"

TV/Radio finalists:

  • Sarah Holt, producer/director, for "Rise of the Superbugs," a co-production of WGBH/NOVA and Vulcan Productions

  • Clayton Sandell, producer, and Bill Blakemore and Jay Lamonica, co-producers, for "Global Warming & Extinction," ABC News

The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative was created in 2003 to encourage interdisciplinary research and is funded by a 15-year, $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The initiative also sponsors conferences to bring together outstanding researchers from many fields to pose new questions and share ideas for cross-disciplinary projects.

The award recipients will be honored during this year's Futures Initiative conference, "Smart Prosthetics: Exploring Assistive Devices for the Body and Mind," to be held Nov. 9-11 in Irvine, Calif. The conference will bring together selected researchers who specialize in prosthetics to explore how this field intersects with disciplines across science, engineering, and medicine. Conference participants will have the opportunity to compete for grants to pursue new lines of cross-disciplinary research.

The winners of the communication awards were selected by a committee of 10 judges:

  • Barbara J. Culliton (committee chair and member, Institute of Medicine), journalist, former deputy editor, Nature, and former news editor, Science

  • Donald Kennedy (committee vice chair and member, National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine), editor in chief, Science

  • Deborah Blum, professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison

  • David Clark, producer/director, David Clark Inc., Bethesda, Md.

  • Peter Dykstra, executive producer, CNN Science and Technology, Atlanta

  • Samuel C. Florman (member, National Academy of Engineering), chairman, Kreisler Borg Florman Construction Co., Scarsdale, N.Y.

  • Lubert Stryer (member, National Academy of Sciences), Winzer Professor Emeritus, department of neurobiology, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.

  • Curt Suplee, science writer and former science editor for The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

  • Abigail Trafford, author and columnist for The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

  • Dan Vergano, science reporter, USA Today, McLean, Va.


Nominations for the 2007 Communication Awards will be accepted beginning Feb. 1, 2007, for work published or broadcast in 2006. For more information on the Futures Initiative and the communication awards, please visit www.keckfutures.org.

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