Friends of Darwin awards for three Texans

NCSE is pleased to announce the winners of the Friends of Darwin award for 2010: David Hillis, Gerald Skoog, and Ronald Wetherington, all scientists in Texas who have fought for the integrity of science education in the Lone Star State. Hillis, Skoog, and Wetherington received their awards in San Diego, on February 12, 2010, during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Scientific American's Steve Mirsky emceed the ceremony.

Hillis is Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor in Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. "When we anticipated problems with the Texas board of education's adoption of high school biology textbooks in the early 2000s, we turned to David," commented NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott in a February 24, 2010, press release from NCSE about the awards. "He was brilliant in his response then, and in the most recent battles in Texas in the rewriting of the science education standards."

Gerald Skoog is Director of the Center for Integration of Science Education & Research at, and Dean Emeritus of, the College of Education at Texas Tech University. "Skoog's lifelong scholarship in evolution education has had a huge impact for forty years," Scott explained. "He literally wrote the book on the coverage of evolution in textbooks. We all depend on Jerry for his scholarship. And he has served NCSE in very important ways — when we've needed help, especially in Texas, he's always been there for us."

And Ronald Wetherington is Professor of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University, where he also is Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. Scott remarked, "Ron is second to none when it comes to the time, energy, skill, and enthusiasm he's brought to the battle over Texas science standards. His honesty and his ability to earn the trust of school board members has paid huge dividends in the struggle for good science education standards in Texas." He was also named a "Grasshoots Hero" in 2009 by the Texas Freedom Network.

The three Texans join Carl Zimmer, Steven Schafersman, Lawrence Krauss, Kenneth R. Miller, John F. Haught, Philip Kitcher, Victor H. Hutchison, Philip Appleman, Fred Edwords, Barbara Forrest, and the eleven plaintiffs of Kitzmiller v. Dover, to name a few, as NCSE's Friends of Darwin. The Friend of Darwin award is presented annually to a select few whose efforts to support NCSE and advance its goal of defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools have been truly outstanding.