Press Release

Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the Sagan Medal to Dr. David H. Grinspoon

By SpaceRef Editor
October 12, 2006
Filed under ,

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication by a Planetary Scientist to David H. Grinspoon, the Curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Few practicing researchers in planetary science have devoted so much effort to public outreach, and done it so effectively, as David Grinspoon. He has a special gift in being able to communicate exciting ideas at the leading edge of planetary and astrobiological research to the interested public. In his prize-winning popular book, “Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life,” and his earlier “Venus Revealed,” one encounters amazingly engaging works that seek to place diverse aspects of life in the universe, and of our sister planet, into larger cultural contexts. The reader is treated to fresh, “outside the box” perceptions, and asked to stretch his or her mind in unexpected directions, an inevitably intensely rewarding experience!

Grinspoon received several awards recognizing his excellent teaching while at the University of Colorado. In more recent years, he has traveled and lectured extensively, appeared on radio and in television science documentaries, and written popular articles for magazines and Op Ed pieces for the nation’s leading newspapers. In Grinspoon’s interactions with the public there is visible joy and enthusiasm about planetary science and science in general, all supported by his profound sense of science as an ethical human enterprise. He is one of just a few excellent active planetary science researchers who self-describe their careers in education and public outreach as being of equal or greater importance. Grinspoon thus follows in the tradition of Carl Sagan himself, and like Sagan in his time, Grinspoon is nearly unique in making science truly hip.

For his strong dedication to excellence in communicating planetary science to the public, and illuminating the numinous, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to present the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal to David H. Grinspoon.

Dr. Grinspoon is curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, has been awarded the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society. The prestigious medal was created to recognize scientists whose efforts have significantly contributed to a public understanding of, and enthusiasm for, planetary science.

Grinspoon’s research focuses on the evolution of Earthlike planets elsewhere in the universe. He is a recognized expert on the planet Venus, and he serves as an advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy. Grinspoon is particularly interested in improving our ability to understand and predict climate change, and the implications of climate change on the habitability of different planets, including Earth in the future.

Though he is an accomplished researcher whose scientific findings have been published in journals such as Science and Nature, Grinspoon has always placed a high priority on sharing his knowledge of science with the general public. In 2004, he won the Pen Center Literary Award for Research Nonfiction for his book Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life , which explores the possibility of other life in the universe from scientific, historical and philosophical perspectives. The book won praise from Publishers Weekly, Scientific American, WIRED magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Kirkus Reviews (which gave Lonely Planets a starred review), and Booklist , which said, “Grinspoon comes across like a buddy in a bar, trying out ideas over a beer or a few.”

The success of Lonely Planets was a highlight in a long list of other accomplishments. Grinspoon’s first book, Venus Revealed: A New Look Below the Clouds of Our Mysterious Twin Planet, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and his popular writing has appeared in Scientific American, Natural History, and The New York Times, among other publications. In addition, he has been featured on National Public Radio, PBS, BBC World Service, and was a regular guest on The John Batchelor Show on the ABC Radio Network.

The Carl Sagan Medal was established by the Division for Planetary Sciences to recognize and honor outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public. It is to be awarded to scientists whose efforts have significantly contributed to a public understanding of, and enthusiasm for, planetary science.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Denver Museum of Nature & Science:
Laura Holtman
303-370-6407
Pager: 303-266-8525
Laura.Holtman@dmns.org
Web site: www.dmns.org

About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science:
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region’s leading resource for informal science education. A variety of engaging exhibits, discussions and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the natual wonders of Colorado, Earth and the universe. To learn more about the Museum, check www.dmns.org.

SpaceRef staff editor.