• 15th annual awards focus on environmental achievements by 10 Americans
PITTSBURGH, PA, Sept. 15, 2009 - Celebrating the noble American ideal that individuals have the power and responsibility to change the world for the better, Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation today announced the recipients of the 15th annual Heinz Awards, which this year, focuses singularly on the environment.
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 bring about a cleaner, greener and more sustainable planet.
"At this unique time in history, when the environment is more important than ever to our lives, our economy, our national security and our future, it is only fitting that we focus exclusively on this critical topic," said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation. "These awards honor those guardians of our future who value our natural resources, work to remove toxic chemicals from our air and water, and create policies and the new technology that will ensure a sustainable planet for generations to come. In highlighting the work of some of our country's most thoughtful, innovative and creative individuals, we are pleased to shine a deserving spotlight on their extraordinary achievements."
Until this year, the Heinz Awards recognized individual achievements in five distinct categories - Arts and Humanities, Environment, Human Condition, Public Policy, and Technology, the Economy and Employment. While this year's awards focus on the environment, the nominees were evaluated through the prism of the traditional five Heinz Awards categories.
Examples of his inventions include the UV Waterworks, an inexpensive and reliable water purification system suitable for rural villages and disaster relief. The device significantly reduces the risk of life-threatening diseases. He also has devised the Berkeley-Darfur cook stove for safer indoor use in Darfur, Sudan, as well as a filter to remove arsenic from groundwater, which in some developing countries is often present at toxic levels. The World Health Organization estimates that about two million people, mostly children, die each year in developing countries from diarrhea cased by contaminated water, and nearly a billion people lack access to drinkable water.
Dr. Gadgil is also a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2005, the UC, Berkeley chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World persuaded Dr. Gadgil to create a class on designing low-cost, sustainable infrastructure projects in regions with scarce resources. This popular class, which encourages students to consider political and social factors in their engineering decisions, routinely exceeds enrollment.
Dr. Gadgil is featured in the documentary film "Flow: For the Love of Water." The film highlights the importance of water and depicts the battles between private industry and the public sector in bringing clean water to the world's people. His invention, which also is featured, produces 2.5 gallons of water for two cents and can be powered by a car battery. His earlier work is chronicled in the 1999 documentary film "Me and Isaac Newton."
Said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation: "If invention is the mother of necessity, then Dr. Gadgil has been one of the fathers of necessary and practical inventions that have had profound effects on people's lives. He has dedicated his life to finding affordable solutions to some basic but critical human needs. He invented a new ultraviolet bucket to clean the water, a more efficient burning stove for the women in Darfur, and he saw a way to reduce arsenic in the drinking water by using coal ash. His combination of vision and practicality is extraordinary and his passion and dedication make him a truly deserving recipient of a Heinz Award."
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 EnvironmentalDesign (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.
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.
Kirk R. Smith, Ph.D., 62, University of California, Berkeley, (Berkeley, Calif.) - For exposing the relationships among household air pollution, fuel use, climate and health. Kirk Smith's research documents the dangerous relationships among household fuels, public health and climate. Dr. Smith was the first to recognize and quantify the magnitude of the pollution exposure received by the poorest women and children in developing countries as a result of cooking indoors with solid (wood, coal or other biomass) fuels. He has pioneered ways to measure and compare the effects, showing both the tremendous costs of ignoring the problems of indoor air pollution and pointing the way to inexpensive solutions for protecting health and Heinz Awards,climate. Throughout his career, Dr. Smith has advised major international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, and is routinely cited by other scientists who use his work as a standard.
Thomas Smith, 59, Public Citizen - Texas (Austin, Texas) - For his advocacy of wind and solar energy efficiency. Thomas "Smitty" Smith is honored for his work as one of the most effective renewable energy advocates in Texas. He has been an essential player in the key pieces of legislation that have addressed both energy efficiency and the development of renewable sources of energy. His work in crafting and passing the Texas Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is now being adopted in other parts of the country and has made Texas a leader in wind energy creation, putting it on the path to lead in solar energy as well. Since 1985, Mr. Smith has served as director of the Texas state office of Public Citizen, a consumer and environmental group active in areas concerning energy, environment and other socio-economic issues.
Beverly H. Wright, Ph.D., 61, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (New Orleans, La.) - For her work as an environmental justice advocate. A leading scholar on and advocate for environmental justice, Beverly Wright is honored for her work on behalf of communities, especially those in Louisiana's "Cancer Alley." As head of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University in New Orleans, she has been tackling issues of environmental racism and is working to raise the profile of environmental issues in poor and minority communities nationwide. For more than two decades, she has directed numerous grassroots, community-initiated programs and provided opportunities for communities, scientific researchers and decision makers to collaborate on programs and projects that promote the rights of everyone to be free from environmental harm.
Mrs. Heinz said today: "The notion that our environment is indeed threatened and needs collective action to fix has, thankfully, for the most part been won. People are now seeing the true link between them and their surroundings, bypassing and dissolving traditional categories and labels. It is a real step, but still only the first one. 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. It is growing stronger every day in large part due to the amazing people we are honoring this year. They are builders, farmers, inventors,-a new breed of smart, gritty and enlightened people who are connecting the dots for us all and showing us the new path to a better, more sustainable environment."
"The Heinz Awards seeks to find those individuals who are quietly and boldly working to improve this world. Our recipients this year have already accomplished so much, but there is still important work left to do. This year's recipients give me great hope that a transformation is underway, that it will continue and that it will grow and ultimately succeed in preserving our common home."
About the Heinz Family Foundation
The Heinz Family Foundation, one of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, 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. The awards recognize exceptional leadership and accomplishments in areas of special interest to Senator Heinz. "The most important investments - and the most profitable," he once said, "are investments in people."
In addition to the Heinz Awards, the foundation directs a grant-making program that is active in a wide range of issues, principally those concerning women's health and environment, health care costs and coverage, as well as pensions and retirement security.
Nominations for the Heinz Awards are submitted by an invited Council of Nominators, all experts in their fields, 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.
Past recipients of Heinz Awards include author Dave Eggers, medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, "environmental watchdog" Thomas FitzGerald, marine biologist Jane Lubchenco, Paul Anastas, a leader in the "green chemistry movement," and physicist John Holdren, who is now director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President.
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 private ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 28.
Additional information about Teresa Heinz, the Heinz Family Foundation and each of the recipients is available online www.heinzawards.net.