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Friend of Darwin and Friend of the Planet awards for 2014

NCSE is pleased to announce the winners of the Friend of Darwin award for 2014: Eric Rothschild, Stephen G. Harvey, Witold Walczak, Richard B. Katskee, and Faye Flam. The first four recipients led the victorious legal team representing the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the 2005 case establishing the unconstitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" in the public schools; Flam, a science journalist, wrote "Planet of the Apes" — the only newspaper column dedicated to evolution — for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2010 to 2012.

In a press release issued on April 28, 2014, NCSE's executive director Ann Reid commented, "The Kitzmiller legal team performed a huge service for this country. They effectively stopped intelligent design in its tracks, preventing copycat school districts from adopting Dover's ID policies. They have indeed earned their Friend of Darwin award." She also praised Flam's "scientifically informed (and witty) explanations of evolution and her responses to creationism" as "a major contribution towards our mutual goals."

NCSE's 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 have been truly outstanding. Previous recipients of the Friend of Darwin award include Brian Alters, Marshall Berman, Rob Dillon, Susan Epperson, Barbara Forrest, Philip Kitcher, Lawrence Krauss, Robert T. Pennock, Judy Scotchmoor, Carl Zimmer, Michael Zimmerman, and the eleven plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, to name only a few.

Also presented, for the first time, was NCSE's Friend of the Planet award, in honor of a select few whose efforts to support NCSE and advance its goal of defending the teaching of climate science have been truly exceptional. Receiving the award were Michael E. Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (2012), and Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University and author of Earth: The Operator's Manual (2011).

Mann was described as a hero by Bill McKibben, a member of NCSE's advisory council, who added, "Very few people have sounded more important alarms about our climate future and ... have paid a higher price for doing so." And Ben Santer, a member of NCSE's board of directors, said of Alley, "His research — and his engaging, crystal-clear writing about climate change — have definitely earned him this award." Mann and Alley, as well as Rothschild, Harvey, Walczak, Katskee, and Flam, received their awards on April 26, 2014, at a special ceremony held at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia.