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NCSE Members Receive 'Friend of Darwin' Awards
In 1994, NCSE established two special awards: the "Huxley Award" for contributions to evolution education was named after Thomas H. Huxley, who advocated public education as ardently as he supported the theory of evolution; the "Friend of Darwin" award honors NCSE members for outstanding effort to support NCSE and its goals. NCSE's Board of Directors recognized four "Friends of Darwin" in 1998: Barbara Forrest (see RNCSE 17:6), Jere Lipps, Betty McCollister, and Richard Trott.
Jere Lipps, Professor of Integrative Biology and past Director of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California, Berkeley, is always on the alert for ways to improve the public understanding of science. Under his direction the Museum he directs grew not only as a leading research institution, but as a leader in outreach to science teachers and the public. For example, in 1991, when the Blackhawk Quarry site was donated to the Museum, Lipps helped create a "community project" in which people from the San Francisco Bay Area could participate in the excavation of specimens. The Museum regularly conducts teacher workshops and lecture series for the surrounding community, and has created a World Wide Web site that is a fine resource for teaching about evolution.
Lipps also works hard to assure that the media accurately present science, especially evolution. Among his many activities in this area, he works with the Council for Media Integrity to encourage accountability among both news and entertainment broadcasters, and serves on the Paleontological Society's panel of consultants who make themselves available to provide reporters with background information on paleontology.
Betty McCollister was actively defending evolution education even before the founding of NCSE. Long-time members will recall that NCSE was founded as an umbrella organization by autonomous "Committees of Correspondence" working to oppose antievolution legislation in a number of states. McCollister was a member of the Iowa Committee of Correspondence, serving as President in 1988. At that time she was in the midst of a 3 year effort to collect and edit position statements by educational, scientific, and religious organizations supporting evolution education; thanks to her, a major accomplishment of NCSE's first year was the publication of the first edition of Voices for Evolution.
No task has been too grand or too tedious for Betty, who has participated in countless panel discussions of evolution and evolution-creation controversies, and written on the topic for a variety of publications including USA Weekend and her regular column in the Des Moines Register. In her years as a contributing editor of NCSE Reports, Creation/Evolution, and Reports of NCSE, she has spent hundreds of hours of painstaking proof-reading, and offered countless thoughtful suggestions, conscientiously representing the viewpoint of non-technical readers.
Richard Trott is one of those VIPs who works tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the show goes on. While he has contributed articles to NCSE publications and the Talk.Origins FAQ (http://www.talkorigins.org), he has never hesitated to share informally information he has gained from his research in creationist literature and his attendance at creationist lectures. Like Betty McCollister, Trott has devoted countless hours to proofreading NCSE Reports and Creation/Evolution, the predecessors of Reports of NCSE. (When you heard him exclaim, "Bring on the intravenous coffee!" you knew another issue would appear soon.) A computer scientist, Rich has also helped bring the defense of evolution to cyberspace, taking an active role in organizing the information collected at the Talk.Origins FAQ.
Still an undergraduate at Rutgers University when he joined NCSE, Trott recently moved to California and had hardly arrived when he visited NCSE's office looking for ways to help. He has donated hardware, software, and programming expertise so that we could add Macintosh computers to our office equipment, adding to our flexibility and improving our ability to work with graphic designers and printers on producing Reports of NCSE and other printed materials.
As NCSE Executive Director Eugenie C Scott has said, "NCSE depends heavily on its members for so much of the important work we do that the hard work and imagination contributed by Friends of Darwin are indispensable. This award is just a small part of our thanks."