Dr. Daniel Lieberman with students at KIPP NYC.

Communication and Outreach Award

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The American Association of Biological Anthropologists and Leakey Foundation Communication and Outreach Award in Honor of Camilla M. Smith

The American Association of Biological Anthropologists (AABA) and Leakey Foundation Communication and Outreach Award in Honor of Camilla M. Smith is awarded annually to recognize outstanding public communication and educational outreach efforts in the field of biological anthropology.

The award was first given in 2020 to recognize the importance and urgency of promoting scientific literacy, clarity of message, and efforts to foster respect and understanding for the variation, adaptation, and evolution of human beings and their living and fossil relatives. It was renamed in 2021 in honor of outgoing Leakey Foundation President, Camilla M. Smith.

Recipients participate in a Leakey Foundation public outreach program and are presented with a commemorative plaque at the AABA Annual Meeting,

If you wish to nominate someone for this award, visit the AABA website to learn how.

About Camilla Smith

Camilla Smith is a community volunteer who focuses on education and science. Inspired by a passion for understanding what makes us human, she joined The Leakey Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2004 and served as president from 2015-2021. Mrs. Smith also serves on the boards of the National Public Radio Foundation, the Public Broadcasting System Foundation, Teachers College at Columbia University, University of California Berkeley Foundation, UC Berkeley Bancroft Special Collections Library, San Francisco State University Foundation, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Science Friday, NOVA Science Visiting Council, and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio.

An accomplished writer and editor, she has worked at G.P. Putnam’s Sons publishers, Columbia University’s Teachers College Press, the New York City Board of Education, and the Japanese American Citizen’s League. She earned a Bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University and a Master’s degree at Columbia University Teachers College.

Award Recipients

2024

Tina Lasisi, University of Michigan

Dr. Lasisi’s public outreach includes human variation, adaptation, and evolution and she reaches a wide range of audiences. As described by her nomination, “Her work exemplifies many best practices for science communication and engagement- including clarity, empathy, and presenting science as a process of generating knowledge, rather than a set of facts. Her work is also distinctive in its embrace of emerging media platforms, to better connect with younger and more diverse audiences about science and its impacts on society.”

Click to watch her Leakey Foundation talk.

2023

Cara Ocobock, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Ocobock’s research integrates human biology and anthropology, with a focus on the interaction between anatomy, physiology, evolution, and the environment. She explores the physiological and behavioral mechanisms necessary to cope with and adapt to extreme climate and physical activity. As described in her nomination, “Collectively Dr. Ocobock’s activities promote scientific literacy in clear, relevant, and engaging ways, and support our field’s efforts to foster respect and understanding for the variation, adaptation, and evolution of human beings and their living and fossil relatives.”

Click to watch her on Lunch Break Science.

2022

Katie Hinde, Arizona State University

Dr. Hinde’s ability to generate interest in biological anthropology and related fields is remarkable, reflecting her expertise and breadth across numerous academic fields. Her nomination notes that: “All of Dr. Hinde’s work in science communication is a master class in how to talk to the public about science in a way that is engaging, fun, informative, and transformative…”

Click to watch her Leakey Foundation talk for educators.

2021

Briana Pobiner, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Dr. Briana Pobiner is a paleoanthropologist whose research centers on the evolution of human diet, but has included topics as diverse as human cannibalism and chimpanzee carnivory. She has done fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Indonesia and has been supported in her research by the Fulbright-Hays program, The Leakey Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, Rutgers University, the Society for American Archaeology, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Since joining the Smithsonian in 2005 to help put together the Hall of Human Origins, in addition to continuing her active field, laboratory, and experimental research programs, she leads the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts which include managing the Human Origins Program’s public programs, website content, social media, and exhibition volunteer training. Briana has more recently developed a research program in evolution education and science communication, and is also an Associate Research Professor of Anthropology in the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology at the George Washington University.

Click to watch her Leakey Foundation talk for educators.

2020

Agustín Fuentes, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Fuentes’ research centers on the question of what it means to be human and he has made significant academic contributions to basic primatology as well as larger integrative questions focusing on creativity and community in human evolution, multispecies relationships, and engaging with race and racism. He is also an active public scientist. He has published a number of popular books, is an active blogger, an enthusiastic participant in public science events, and regularly appears in the broader media as an advocate for the significance of our discipline.

Click to watch his Leakey Foundation Darwin Day presentation.