Schmidt Futures and The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Announce the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication

February 22, 2022

Multi-Year Award Program Funded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt Will Recognize Excellence in Science Communication by Research Scientists and Journalists 

Professional Development and Training Program for Awardees to Run in Partnership with University Journalism Schools and Communications Organizations

New York, NY Schmidt Futures, in partnership with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, announced today the establishment of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication. 

The awards are part of Schmidt Futures’ new program to reward excellence in science communication, provide talented scientists with the skills and knowledge to be effective communicators and foster opportunities for freelance and early-career science journalists to make connections and pursue critical local and regional stories. The goal of this program is to recognize the best science communication by scientists and science reporters and to encourage continuing excellence in the field.

“From cataloging changes in the Earth’s atmosphere to sequencing genomes of new viruses, scientific knowledge has never been vaster, and effective communication about science has never been more important,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder with her husband Eric of Schmidt Futures. “We’re honored to join the National Academy of Sciences in recognizing the people who help us understand science better so that we can make better choices for ourselves, our communities and our planet.” 

“The pandemic has tragically reminded us that science communication is often as important as science itself,” said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. “It takes great skill to effectively communicate the wonder and complexity of science, engineering, and medicine, and we hope these new awards will not only recognize such talent but also help nurture the next generation of leaders in science journalism and communication.” 

The Awards: Each year, the program will award 24 prizes honoring the best science communication by research scientists and the best science journalism. 

  • 12 Awards for Best Science Communication by Research Scientists:  These awards are focused on the effective communication of scientific topics or research to the general public. The 12 awards will be split into three categories based on career level: graduate students, early career researchers (one to five years after their Ph.D.), and later career researchers. A top prize of $40,000 and three $20,000 awards of recognition will be awarded in each category.
  • 12 Awards for Best Science Journalism: These awards will focus on three categories in science journalism: freelance journalists, early career journalists (less than 5 years experience or under age 30), and local/regional reporting. A top prize of $40,000 and three $20,000 awards of recognition will be awarded in each category.

The program will welcome submissions that explore the full spectrum of science — its beauty and societal benefits, its complexities, its shortcomings and controversies.

The first call for submissions is expected to launch March 1, 2022. Leading scientists and experts in all aspects of science communication and journalism – from the academic, non-profit, corporate, and other sectors – will review the submissions and select the winners.  The winners will be announced in fall 2022.  For more information, see:

Professional Development and Training: The program will partner with science communicators, universities, and science journalism organizations to provide ongoing training and professional development opportunities for the science communicators identified through the awards program. This initiative will provide ongoing resources and training for the awardees, eventually building capacity and networking opportunities within the broader science and journalism communities. 

“We hope these awards will inspire a new generation of communicators to engage the public with complex ideas in science, technology, and engineering, leading to greater support for funding, more evidence-based policies, and a more informed general population,” said Stuart Feldman, chief scientist at Schmidt Futures.

About Schmidt Futures

Schmidt Futures bets early on exceptional people making the world better. Founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that brings talented people together in networks to prove out their ideas and solve hard problems in science and society. 

To learn more about our method and the diverse types of capital and tools that we deploy, visit

About National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.