Calling the three-part, prime-time PBS special Your Inner Fish an “enthralling examination of the ancient animal ancestry in the fossil record and in our own bodies,” the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine named Neil Shubin, the Robert R. Bensley professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago — and his colleagues Michael Rosenfeld of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and David Dugan of Tangled Bank Studios — recipients of its 2015 Communication Award for Film/Radio/TV. The series, which aired in April 2014, was based on Shubin’s 2008 book.
For the first time, two separate awards were presented in this category. David Kaplan and Mark Levinson also shared a Film/Radio/TV award for Particle Fever, a “minute-by-minute diary of the roller-coaster nature of scientific discovery.”
“We enjoyed an embarrassment of riches this year, with outstanding entries representing a tremendous diversity of scientific subjects,” said May Berenbaum, NAS member and chair of the communication awards selection committee, and professor and head of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Choosing the best among the best was difficult but the winners are exemplars of how excellent popular science writing can make complex science understandable, relevant, and thoroughly engaging.”
Supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation since 2003 as part of the Keck Futures Initiative, the winners were selected from 344 entries for works that were published or aired in 2014. They recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering and medicine to the general public. Each award includes a $20,000 prize. The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Oct. 14 in Washington, D.C.
Your Inner Fish has also been nominated for two Emmy awards, for graphics and for science. Shubin, who is the university’s associate dean for academic strategy, won the National Academies’ book award in 2009 for Your Inner Fish.