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Heinz Awards Includes Three of Special Import for Small Islands
The Heinz Awards this year were especially focused on environmental achievements, and among the group of ten who were recognized, three are especially significant from the viewpoint of environmental issues for small islands. Those three are summarized below, and then the entire list as presented in the Heinz Family Foundation press release as quoted below.
Joan Kleypas, Ph.D., National Center for Atmospheric Research (Boulder, Colo.)For conducting breakthrough research on the impacts of climate change on coral reefs andengaging both scientists and policymakers — Dr. Kleypas has been a leader in investigating the impacts of ocean acidification on reef building processes.Nancy Knowlton, Ph.D., Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History,Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.)For broadening the understanding of ocean biodiversity and the impacts of humans on marinelife.Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D., Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (Chauvin, La.)For her pioneering research of severe oxygen depletion in the Gulf of Mexico [Dead Zones] and commitment toreduce water pollution through education and public policy
Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation Announce
Recipients of Prestigious Heinz Awards
17th Annual Awards Honor Environmental Champions
PITTSBURGH, September 13, 2011 – Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation today
announced the winners of the 17
annual Heinz Awards, honoring the contributions of eight
individuals and two co-recipients whose remarkable mix of vision, creativity and passion has
produced significant achievements benefitting the environment. Each recipient receives an
unrestricted cash prize of $100,000, with the pair of co-recipients sharing one of the cash prizes.
This year’s winners include an “environmental composer,” documentary filmmakers, authorities
on toxic chemicals, an ice core guru, ocean scientists and an innovation consultant who borrows
ideas from nature.
“At a time when so much of our public discourse is about constraints and the limits of
possibility, these men and women offer an inspiring reminder that change always comes from
those who see past today’s boundaries to a world of new possibilities and new discoveries,”
Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation, said today. “Their ingenuity and
persistence is a refreshing reminder of America’s can-do spirit, which is as alive today in
innovators like this as it has ever been. They offer us practical, real-world ideas for how to
protect our environment, and their innovative spirit offers us a powerful and much-needed
antidote to the idea that our country is no longer capable of greatness.”
The awards program annually recognizes individuals creating and implementing workable
solutions to the problems the world faces through invention, research and education while
inspiring the next generation of modern thinkers. While this year’s awards focus singularly on
the environment, winners were chosen who address the intersection of the environment with one
of the other award categories recognized in many previous years, including arts and humanities,
human condition, public policy, technology and the economy.
The belief in the power of the individual to improve the lives of others is a quality exemplified
by John Heinz, and an attribute the awards program was created to honor.
The winners of the 17th Heinz Awards are:
John Luther Adams, Independent Composer (Fairbanks, Alaska)
For his musical compositions that invite us to hear the whole world as music . Referred to as the “environmental composer,” John Luther Adams’ works written for orchestra,
ensembles, percussion and electronic media often reflect the environmental, cultural and
spiritual elements of the sweeping, vast wilderness of Alaska. Mr. Adams connects millions of
Americans to nature through his music. He garnered national attention when he partnered with
geologists and physicists to create a groundbreaking sound and light exhibit, which gave voice to
the rhythms of the earth. He assigned notes to seismic activity, the sun and the moon, using live
data feeds from five Alaskan seismic stations. He has influenced a wave of young composers and
he is representative of those in the arts who are trying to find ways to translate and reflect the
importance of the environment. Alex Ross of The New Yorker called Inuksuit “one of the most
rapturous experiences” of his listening life. Mr. Adams has served as a composer-in-residence
with the Anchorage Symphony, the Anchorage Opera, the Alaska Public Radio Network, and as
the principal percussionist for the Fairbanks Symphony and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra.
Richard Alley, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University (University Park, Pa.)
For his polar ice discoveries that showed abrupt climate change is possible and for engaging his
students, policymakers and the public.
Dr. Richard Alley is an international leader in climate and polar ice studies. He broke open the
field of abrupt climate change when he discovered that the last Ice Age came to a quick end over
just a three-year period. Dr. Alley and others removed two-mile long polar ice core samples in
Greenland and in Antarctica to study climate history and elements that lead to climatic changes.
He regularly testifies before congressional committees and policymakers on climate change. At
Penn State, Dr. Alley has received awards for teaching non-scientists and for engaging advanced
students in the rigorous study of climate and ice physics. Earlier this year, he hosted a PBS
special on climate change and sustainable energy called Earth: The Operators’ Manual and
authored the companion book by the same name.
Janine Benyus, Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry Guild (Missoula, Mont.)
For inspiring us to look to nature’s engineering for solutions to our biggest challenges.
Janine Benyus introduced many people to a new way of thinking about design engineering,
advocating the creation of sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s own designs, processes
and strategies to solve real-world problems with the publication of her book Biomimicry:
Innovation Inspired by Nature. Since then, she has worked with NASA, corporations,
universities, design g
roups, architectural firms and non-profit organizations to offer insight into
how their products and manufacturing methods could be improved by borrowing from nature’s
forms and functionality. She created a groundbreaking database called
Ask Nature, which contains nature’s answers to many complex design challenges. Visitors can see how organisms filter air and water, gather solar energy and create non-toxic dyes and glues.
Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, Wicked Delicate Films, Truck Farm and FoodCorps
For using humor and innovative programming to engage people about sustainable food.
As best friends at Yale University, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis were among a group who
pioneered a new college dining system, reconnecting students to New England agriculture and
sourcing local, sustainable foods for school cafeterias. Following graduation, the duo set out for
Iowa to examine the political and agricultural origins of American obesity. The resulting
documentary, King Corn, directed by Aaron Woolf, received a Peabody Award and was screened
by members of Congress as they debated the 2007 Farm Bill. To illustrate that you can grow
vegetables anywhere, their whimsical documentary Truck Farm chronicles the transformation of
Mr. Cheney’s 1986 pickup into an edible, mobile garden. Truck Farm inspired a national fleet of
25 farms-on-wheels teaching schoolchildren about healthy eating. Most recently, they helped
establish FoodCorps, a national organization spearheaded by Mr. Ellis that places recent college
graduates into high-obesity, limited-resource communities for a year of public service
transforming school food. And a new documentary, directed by Mr. Cheney, will explore the role
of food in reviving urban waterfronts.
Louis J. Guillette, Jr., Ph. D., Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, S.C.)
For being a leader in the field of hormone disruption and the impact chemicals have on wildlife.
Dr. Louis Guillette is internationally recognized for his research on the effect of chemicals on
reproductive anatomy, genetics and physiology of wildlife. By exhibiting how alligators can
function as sentinel species for environmental contaminant exposure, Dr. Guillette’s research
gives insight into how toxic chemicals may impact human health. He has served as an expert
witness to the U.S. Congress and as a science policy adviser to governmental agencies regarding
environmental contamination and health. As a teacher and mentor he has been recognized for his
work in the field of comparative reproductive biology and developmental endocrinology. Dr.
Guillette is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a professor of
the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and has received honorary professorships from institutions
in Japan, the Philippines, South Africa and South America.
Joan Kleypas, Ph.D., National Center for Atmospheric Research (Boulder, Colo.)
For conducting breakthrough research on the impacts of climate change on coral reefs and
engaging both scientists and policymakers.
Dr. Joan Kleypas has conducted seminal research on how changes in temperature and in
seawater chemistry and acidity have impacted coral reefs. She has also identified ways to bolster
coral reef health so that the critically important ocean organisms can survive climate changes.
She was a member of a National Academies of Science committee that produced a 2010 report
“Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenge of a Changing Ocean,” and has
led many efforts to bring climate change and ocean acidification to the attention of scientists, the
public and policymakers. Her testimony before Congress in 2009 on the threat of ocean
acidification to marine ecosystems helped to ensure the passage of the Federal Ocean
Acidification Research and Monitoring Act.
Nancy Knowlton, Ph.D., Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History,
Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.)
For broadening the understanding of ocean biodiversity and the impacts of humans on marine
Dr. Knowlton has had a lifelong focus on the ecology, evolution and conservation of coral reefs.
She leverages the best and most current science to help seek protection for the ocean. Dr.
Knowlton founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution
of Oceanography, a model for interdisciplinary education around the world. She chaired the
synthesis panel of the World Bank’s Coral Reef Targeted Research Program which, for the first
time, coordinated the skills and resources of many of the world’s leading coral reef scientists.
She also co-led the Census of Coral Reefs, part of the 10-year Census of Marine Life, an effort
that documented the vast biodiversity sheltered by coral reefs. In her 2010 popular book Citizens
of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures from the Census Marine Life, she portrayed the unique qualities
of ocean creatures and the threats that they face, using a mixture of humor and passion. Her
ongoing Beyond the Obituaries project celebrates success stories in ocean conservation,
providing an alternative to the narrative of doom and gloom.
Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D., Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (Chauvin, La.)
For her pioneering research of severe oxygen depletion in the Gulf of Mexico and commitment to
reduce water pollution through education and public policy.
Dr. Nancy Rabalais has been the driving force behind identifying and characterizing the
dynamics of the low oxygen area or “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico — the largest dead zone
affecting the United States and second largest worldwide. Because dead zones can significantly
impact regional fishing economies and the health of coastal environments, Dr. Rabalais’ work is
key to restoring oceans so that both marine and human life can thrive. In 2000, she led one of six
research teams in a scientific assessment of the dead zone, connecting it to nutrient runoff
originating from the vast farming areas of the Mississippi watershed. Dr. Rabalais is addressing
the impacts of the 2010 Macondo oil spill on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico. She is
constantly working to keep the issue of ocean dead zones in front of the public by testifying
before Congress, educating state environmental officials and working with the media. Her work
was featured in the 2010 public television documentary Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River
Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., Ithaca College (Ithaca, N.Y.)
For highlighting the link between toxic chemicals and diseases through her written work, as well
engaging the public as a cancer survivor.
Dr. Sandra Steingraber was diagnosed with bladder cancer at 20 after growing up in an area
polluted by industrial toxins. She has dedicated her career as a biologist and ecologist to finding
links between toxic chemicals and diseases, as well as urging the government to protect its
citizens. She has authored numerous books about her per
sonal story and scientific research that
have reached millions of Americans. Her book, Living Downstream, was made into a
full-length documentary in 2010. With the recent publication of Raising Elijah: Protecting Our
Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, Dr. Steingraber demonstrates how the world of
parenting and childhood staples such as milk and pizza can be sources of toxic exposure.
About the Heinz Awards
The Heinz Awards annually recognize individuals creating and implementing workable solutions
to the problems the world faces through invention, research and education while inspiring the
next generation of modern thinkers. While this year the awards focus singularly on the
environment, winners were chosen who address the intersection of the environment with one of
the other award categories recognized in many previous years, including arts and humanities,
human condition, public policy, technology and the economy.
The Heinz Family Foundation began as a charitable trust established by the late U.S. Senator
John Heinz. His widow, Teresa Heinz, established the Heinz Awards in 1993 to honor and
sustain the legacy of her late husband.
Nominations for the Heinz Awards are submitted by invited experts, who serve anonymously.
Award recipients are selected by the board of directors for the Heinz Awards upon
recommendation by a blue-ribbon panel of jurors.
In addition to the $100,000 award for their unrestricted use, recipients are 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 ceremony in
Washington, D.C. on November 15. For more information about the Heinz Awards or the
recipients, including photographs, visit
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