NCSE is pleased to announce the winners of the Friend of Darwin award for 2021: Mohamed Noor, Professor of Biology and Dean of the Natural Sciences at Duke University and author of Live Long and Evolve (2018); Briana Pobiner, a paleoanthropologist who leads the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's Human Origins Program’s public programs, website content, social media, and exhibition volunteer training; and Jason R. Wiles, Associate Professor of Biology at Syracuse University, a specialist in evolution education.
"The Friends of Darwin for 2021 have tirelessly promoted the cause of evolution education," commented NCSE's executive director Ann Reid. "For Mohamed Noor, through his use of Star Trek to teach evolution concepts as well as through his popular open online course. For Briana Pobiner, through her profound commitment to bringing human evolution to formal and informal educational settings alike. And for Jason Wiles, through his innovative research on teaching and learning about biological evolution as well as his advocacy in his native Arkansas."
NCSE is also pleased to announce the winners of the Friend of the Planet award for 2021: Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist specializing in ocean conservation and climate policy and the co-editor of All We Can Save (2020); Marshall Shepherd, the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia; and Climate Generation, a Minneapolis-based non-profit organization that seeks to build climate literacy and action among educators, youth, and the broader public.
Reid extolled the Friends of the Planet for 2021 as well, explaining, "When it comes to climate change, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is at the vital nexus of science, policy, and communication, while Marshall Shepherd is not only a distinguished scientist but also a highly successful communicator on issues related to weather and climate." She added, "And I can't praise Climate Generation highly enough for its work on climate literacy and action, especially for its extensive and effective outreach to educators."
The Friend of Darwin and Friend of the Planet awards are presented annually to a select few whose efforts to support NCSE and advance its goal of defending and supporting the teaching of evolution and climate science have been truly outstanding. Previous recipients of the Friend of Darwin award include Brian Alters, Susan Epperson, Brandon Haught, Lawrence S. Lerner, and Patricia Princehouse. Previous recipients of the Friend of the Planet Award include Katharine Hayhoe, Frank Niepold, and the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN).