Last week the Heinz Family Foundation announced the recipients of the 15th annual Heinz Awards. This top prize awards those dedicated to long term change for the good of humanity and leave an enduring and meaningful impact on their community.
Created to honor U.S. Senator John Heinz, the 2009 Heinz Awards commemorate the late senator’s long-standing commitment to the environment by bestowing $100,000 awards to 10 individuals whose achievements have helped protect the environment and championed for a more sustainable planet.
Until this year, the Heinz Awards recognized individual achievements in five distinct categories including: Arts and Humanities, Environment, Human Condition, Public Policy, and Technology, the Economy and Employment.
"The sense of urgency so many of us share to heal what’s broken and to right what’s been wrong will not diminish in the years to come," said Mrs. Heinz. "It is growing stronger every day in large part due to the amazing people we are honoring this year."
While this year’s awards focus on the environment, the nominees were evaluated through the prism of the traditional five Heinz Awards categories. The recipients were also chosen based on a rigorous set of criteria including the need for the prize winners to be actively working in the field in which they were nominated. The hope being they will continue to work in their field with this added boost.
In addition to the $100,000 award for their unrestricted use, recipients will be presented with a medallion inscribed with the image of Senator Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other. The Heinz Awards will be presented at a private ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 28.
Among this year's winners are an environmental journalist, activist, scientist and farmer. Read more about the recipients after the jump:
Robert Berkebile, 72, BNIM Architects (Kansas City, Mo.)
For his green building advocacy and promotion of sustainable design and planning. As the founder of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) National Committee on the Environment, Robert Berkebile has been one of the central forces behind a new focus on sustainable building that has influenced thousands of architects and changed the face of green architecture in America. He has devoted himself to improving the world through his profession, Heinz Awards, embracing the cause of sustainability and responsible environmental design practices, helping to found both the U.S. Green Building Council and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. His sustainable design and planning projects extend from new developments to several restorative sites along the Mississippi River including New Orleans.
P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D., 62, University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)
For developing greater understanding of the impact of humans on marine ecosystems. Dee Boersma is honored for her extensive field studies on penguins and other sea birds which she has used to promote understanding of the human impact on marine ecosystems and for advocating conservation through education, research and policy. She considers penguins marine sentinels, at great risk, sounding the alarm on environmental threats to ocean ecosystems. Her research in Argentina has shown that in the last decade, climate-induced change has forced the penguins to swim about 25 miles farther during incubation in search of food. Working with the Wildlife Conservation Society, she provided the data that resulted in the government moving tanker lanes farther from shore to protect the penguins from petroleum pollution. She founded and is now the executive editor of Conservation Magazine, an award-winning publication dedicated to conservation science.
Christopher B. Field, Ph.D., 56, Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)
For his leadership and innovation in carbon cycle and climate science. Chris Field receives a Heinz Award for his contributions towards understanding the impacts of climate change on Earth’s ecosystems as well as for his national and international leadership in bringing science to the policy process. He has played a critical role in the emergence of global ecology as a unique discipline, applying it to diverse questions concerning the scientific foundations for a sustainable future. Dr. Field plays a major role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where he currently co-leads the international effort on assessing climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.
Ashok Gadgil, Ph.D., 58, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)
For his work as an inventor and humanitarian. Ashok Gadgil is recognized for his work as a researcher, inventor and humanitarian. He is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Berkeley and leads a group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that works to understand airflow and pollutant transport in buildings. The work helps to reduce health risks, improve energy efficiency and enhance the quality of life in developing countries. Dr. Gadgil is known for creating simple inventions to solve fundamental problems in developing countries, such as an inexpensive and reliable water purification system and an improved cook stove for Darfur.
Chip Giller, 38, Grist magazine (Seattle, Wash.)
For creating an innovative media platform for delivering environmental information to new audiences. Chip Giller is being honored for founding Grist, an online media platform devoted to environmental news and views. Mr. Giller launched grist.org in 1999 to counter the notion of environmentalists as dour doomsayers and to spread a new, positive form of green journalism with a humorous twist. In doing so, Mr. Giller established a new model for delivering independent environmental content free of charge via the web, and other new-media channels, reporting on everything from climate change to green celebrity news, and showing how the environment intersects with critical issues like poverty, health care and economic growth.
Deborah Rice, Ph.D., 61, Maine Deptartment of Health and Human Services,
Environmental and Occupational Health (Augusta, Maine)
For research yielding new understanding about exposure to toxicants during human development. Deborah Rice is chosen as a Heinz Award laureate for her research into neurotoxicology, the study of the interactions of chemicals within the brain and nervous system. Her seminal work has created enhanced understanding of the potential impact of toxicants on human development, demonstrating that early exposure to major environmental pollutants – lead, methylmercury and PCBs – can plant the seeds for later deficits in cognitive, sensory and motor function. Dr. Rice’s work has also led to national and state policies that regulate exposure to developmental toxicants.
Joel Salatin, 52, Polyface Farm (Swoope, Va.)
For creating alternative, environmentally friendly farming techniques. Joel Salatin, farmer, author and lecturer, is honored for creating alternative, environmentally friendly farming techniques, spawning a movement towards local, sustainable agriculture that has been replicated by family farms around the country. Mr. Salatin has developed a new paradigm for sustainable agriculture by successfully challenging the commercial production of chickens and beef by food industry giants of the 1970s. His pioneering agricultural practices inextricably and beautifully interweave a food system with the land and have been embraced by farmers throughout the country. (Continues on page 2)