The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications

The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication, given by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in partnership with Schmidt Sciences, aim to recognize excellence in science communication by Research Scientists and Journalists.



The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications aim to inspire a new generation of science journalists and research scientists to engage the public with complex ideas in science, technology, and engineering, and to encourage continuing excellence in the field.


Each year, in partnership with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the program will award 24 prizes honoring research scientists, science journalists, and science communicators who have produced excellent pieces of science communication. The program has been designed to be forward looking in its potential to encourage continuing excellence in science communication and foster connections and opportunities that help make awardees even more effective communicators. To this end, the program will also provide programming, professional development and networking opportunities to the research scientists, science journalists, and science communicators after receiving their awards.

“From cataloging changes in the Earth’s atmosphere to sequencing genomes of new viruses, scientific knowledge has never been vaster, and effective communication about science has never been more important”

Wendy Schmidt, co-founder, Schmidt Sciences

The Awards

Each year, the program will award 24 prizes honoring excellence in science communication by research scientists, science journalists, and science communicators. The program will welcome submissions that explore the full spectrum of science — its beauty and societal benefits, its complexities, its shortcomings and controversies.


Leading scientists and experts in all aspects of science communication and journalism – from the academic, non-profit, corporate, and other sectors – review the submissions and select the winners.


Learn more about the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications, including eligibility and submission guidelines.

9 Awards for Research Scientists

These awards will be split into three subcategories in science, engineering, or medical fields: graduate students (who were master’s or Ph.D. candidates), early-career researchers (who were zero-five years post-master’s or Ph.D.), and mid-to-later career researchers (who were six or more years post-master’s or Ph.D.).

9 Awards for Science Journalists

These awards will focus on three subcategories in science journalism: community journalists (who reported on local and/or community-specific issues, or the effects of wider issues on a locality or community), early-career journalists (who were under 30 years of age, or had less than five years of professional experience), and freelance journalists (who were self-employed).

6 Awards for Science Communicators

These awards will focus on two other subcategories in science communication: independent communicators (who were self-employed) and organizational communicators (who were employed by an organization).

2022 Awardees

Selected from 550 entries for works published or aired in 2021 through February 2022, this year’s award recipients are:

Science Journalist: Freelancer

Top Prize Winner:

Ben Rawlence, Black Mountains College for The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth (St Martin’s Press USA/ Vintage UK)

A superb, inspiring work that is far and away the most ambitious entry in terms of reporting, storytelling, science, and personal commitment and succeeds on all those fronts.” – Selection Committee commentary of Ben’s work


Brian Christian, Freelance

Brooke Jarvis, Freelance

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, Freelance

Science Journalist: Early Career

Top Prize Winner: 

Katherine Wu of The Atlantic for “COVID-19 Vaccines Are Entering Uncharted Immune Territory,” “The Body’s Most Embarrassing Organ Is An Evolutionary Marvel,” “Why No One Is Sure If Delta Is Deadlier,” “Your Vaccinated Immune System Is Ready For Breakthroughs,” “What J&J Can Still Teach Us,” and “Will Omicron Leave Most of Us Immune?”

Wu is an outstanding example of an early career journalist who has a gift for selecting important topics, exploring them meticulously and thoughtfully and in an engaging way. Absolute powerhouse of a writer who beautifully points out how culture and biases influence science.” – Selection Committee commentary of Katherine’s work


Ridwan Karim Dini-Osman, Freelance

Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science/AAAS

Alex Schwartz, Klamath Falls Herald and News

Science Journalist: Local/Regional

Top Prize Winner: 

Patrick Mayoyo of Next Generation Media LTD for “How Kenyan Villagers Are Using Carbon Credits And Indigenous Knowledge To Fight Climate Change Impacts” (Africa Eco News) and “Climate Change And Shift In Tectonic Plates Linked To Rising Water Levels In Rift Valley Lakes,” “Tiny Village In Kenya Using Mushroom Farming To Fight Climate Change,” “Maasai Women Defy Traditions And Opt For Nutrition To Counter Climate Change” (Daily Reporter)

Mayoyo worked hard to incorporate facts, figures, and explain clearly the science of what he was talking about whether it was fungi, carbon credits, or tectonic plates. He illustrates scientific phenomena in unique and meaningful ways by incorporating tradition and centering his work on ideas that are largely unheard of.”- Selection Committee commentary of Patrick’s work


J.D. Allen, WSHU Public Radio, Long Island, New York

Trent Knoss, Denver Museum of Nature & Science / The Institute for Science & Policy, Craig, Colorado

Brett Walton, Circle of Blue, Aurora, Nebraska

Research Scientist: Graduate Student

Top Prize Winner:

Jessica Kendall-Bar, University of California, Santa Cruz for “Eavesdropping On The Brain At Sea: A First Glimpse At Sleep In Wild Marine Mammals,” “Visualizing Life In The Deep” and “Data Driven Animation For Science Communication Promo” (YouTube), “Ocean Sciences Meeting Coastal Resilience Lab – Data Visualization Portal” (Coastal Resilience Explorer), and “Hawaii’s ‘million-Dollar Reefs’ Need More Funding To Protect Us, Study Finds” (Star Advertiser)

Kendall-Bar’s range of beautiful, relatable work utilizes impressive, innovative tools and platforms that can be used to further the cause of science communication into the future.” – Selection Committee commentary of Jessica’s work


Arianna Long, University of California, Irvine

Alice Lu-Culligan, Yale University

Fayth Hui Tan, California Institute of Technology

Research Scientist: Early Career

Top Prize Winner:

Katelyn Jetelina, School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston for New Concerning Variant: B.1.1.529,” “What Now? How Pandemics End,” “State Of Affairs: Pediatrics And Omicron,” “Pan-Coronavirus “Super” Vaccine,” “Go Get Your Vaccine, Especially With Omicron” (Your Local Epidemiologist, Substack), and “How Vaccines Reduce Transmission”

Jetelina offers very concise and clearly written explanations from the unique (and invaluable) perspective of an early career epidemiologist [who] deals with the nuances relating to COVID infection, vaccination, and public health issues in an extremely effective way. The breadth of her influence and the importance of her work to many members of the public over the last two years reiterates the comprehensiveness and deep impact of her work.” –  Selection Committee commentary of Katelyn’s work


Patience Kiyuka, Kenya Medical Research Institute 

Chloe Lucas, University of Tasmania

Kristel Tjandra, Stanford University

Research Scientist: Mid-Career to Later Career

Top Prize Winner: 

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein of the University of New Hampshire for Enter the Axion” (American Scientist), “Becoming Martian” (The Baffler), and “A Black Femme Dreams In Equations” (Essence) 

Prescod-Weinstein makes dark matter and astrophysics personally meaningful and fascinating for readers by blending physics and metaphysics in jaw-dropping and beautiful ways. It’s not just science, it’s also literary, it’s worldly, it’s masterful. Exceptional writing on complex topics, done in a voice aimed at marginalized audiences. Reading her writing is a joy.” – Selection Committee commentary of Chanda’s work


Jordan Ellenberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jacquelyn Gill, University of Maine

Cassandra Quave, Emory University

Professional Development and Training

The program will partner with science communicators, universities, and science journalism organizations to provide ongoing training and professional development opportunities for the science communicators identified through the awards program. This initiative will provide ongoing resources and training for the awardees, eventually building capacity and networking opportunities within the broader science and journalism communities.

About National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

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