Saad Bhamla, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is a winner of an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Award for Excellence in Science Communications from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in partnership with Schmidt Futures.
A total of 24 awards, split among eight categories, were announced, recognizing science journalists, research scientists, and science communicators who have developed creative, original work to communicate issues and advances in science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. In each of the categories, one $40,000 top prize and two $20,000 awards were given, totaling $640,000.
Bhamla is a winner ($20,000) in the Research Scientist: Later Career category, with the award recognizing his multilingual comic series, "A Curious Zoo of Extraordinary Organisms," an outreach effort supported by a National Science Foundation CAREER grant.
Of the Schmidt honor, Bhamla said, "This award validates that science communication isn't a 'waste of time' but a vital part of science itself. It's not just a nod to my work but an endorsement of a path that blends rigorous science with public engagement. It says curiosity matters."
The National Academies noted that Bhamla, a self-proclaimed "tinkerer," studies biomechanics across species to engineer knowledge and tools that inspire curiosity. His lab is trove of discoveries and inventions that span biology, physics, and engineering. His current projects include studying the hydrodynamics of insect urine, worm blob locomotion and ultra-low-cost devices for global health.
Bhamla's work has appeared in the New York Times, the Economist, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and more. He is a prolific inventor and his most notable inventions includes a 20-cent paper centrifuge, a 23-cent electroporator, and the 96-cent hearing aid.
His work is recognized by numerous awards including a NIH R35 Outstanding Investigator Award, NSF CAREER Award, CTL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, and INDEX: Design to Improve Life Award. He is also a National Geographic Explorer, and a TED speaker. Newsweek recognized Saad as 1 of 10 Innovators disrupting healthcare.
The National Academies' Schmidt Award winners will be honored during an invitation-only workshop and recognition event on January 11 and 12, 2024, in Washington, D.C.
“The scientists, communicators, and journalists honored in the second year of these awards can take the most complex of subjects — race and genetics, climate anxiety, the nature of infinity, AI blood disease detectors — and transform them into accessible, understandable stories,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and president and co-founder of the Schmidt Family Foundation and Schmidt Ocean Institute. “Their words are a light that cuts through the fog of jargon and disinformation, guiding us to a clearer and more profound understanding of our world.”
Brad Dixon, firstname.lastname@example.org