The Jon C. Graff, PhD Prize for Excellence in Science Communication

Since 2016, Science News has featured the SN10, ten scientists under the age of 40 who are the ones to watch in the years ahead.  Each scientist included in the annual SN10 was nominated by a Nobel laureate, a recently elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, or a member of the Society’s Honorary Board, and selected by Science News staff for their potential to shape the science of the future.

The Jon C. Graff, PhD Prize for Excellence in Science Communication was established in 2019 with a cash gift and is now supported by an endowed fund.

The Graff Prize is awarded annually to one of Science News’s SN10.  The prize is given to a scientist who demonstrates deep enthusiasm for the field, the ability to explain scientific breakthroughs and inventions clearly to a wide range of audiences, and the use of various media, both academic and popular, to reach the public.

The Graff Prize winner will receive a monetary prize of $1,000 and a medal. Each year, the prize winner is selected by a committee convened by Society for Science.

The Jon C. Graff, PhD Prize for Excellence in Science Communication

Judging Criteria

The winning scientist:

  • Conveys complex ideas with clarity, making the science accessible to variety of audiences
  • Uses a range of media (e.g. peer-reviewed journals, magazines, newspapers, radio and television, social media, webinars, and blog posts) to share their ideas with the public
  • Communicates the long-term value of their work and field of study for society

About Jon C. Graff, PhD

Jon Graff, who lived in San Jose, CA, was a Science News reader from 1974 until his death in 2021.

A pioneer in the field of digital cryptography, Dr. Graff started his career as a biochemistry, virology and cell biology researcher, authoring 17 scientific papers. He then moved into computer technology, developing secure digital communications as a cryptographic architect. He designed secure communication systems for Fortune 500 companies and was awarded a patent in digital communications.  He is the author of Cryptography and E-Commerce: A Wiley Tech Brief and An Introduction to Modern Cryptography (Springer Verlag, 2000).  Dr. Graff endowed the Graff Prize through his estate so the award can be given in perpetuity.

Jon C Graff, PhD
Sousa-Silva is a quantum astrochemist at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and an expert in knowing things from afar.

2023

Clara Sousa-Silva, PhD, Bard College

The 2023 Selection Committee awarded the Graff Prize to Clara Sousa-Silva, Assistant Professor of Physics at Bard College. The committee praised Dr. Sousa-Silva’s dynamic communication style and her ability to explain clearly an often abstract field of science to a range of audiences with enthusiasm.

Biological anthropologist Tina Lasisi, who studies the evolution of human variation, hosts a PBS Digital Studios show and is a popular voice on TikTok. She wants to inspire people of color to ask questions important to them. “Research is me-search,” she says.

2022

Tina Lasisi, PhD, University of Michigan

Biological anthropologist Tina Lasisi, who studies the evolution of human variation, hosts a PBS Digital Studios show and is a popular voice on TikTok. She wants to inspire people of color to ask questions important to them. “Research is me-search,” she says.

Emily Fischer, 39 Atmospheric chemist Affiliation: Colorado State University

2021

Emily Fischer, PhD, Colorado State University

An atmospheric chemist, Fischer uses field-based and applied modeling approaches to investigate the sources of atmospheric trace gases. Her work aims to improve our understanding of the role of climate in determining the atmosphere’s self-cleansing capacity. Her studies of wildfire smoke and its effect on our atmosphere have received media attention over the past few years.

Anna Mueller, PhD Indiana University

2020

Anna Mueller, PhD  Indiana University

Mueller’s long-term goal is to create a sort of litmus test that identifies schools that could be at risk of a suicide cluster. That way, school and community leaders can intervene before the first suicide and its resulting firestorm.

Abigail Swann’s alternate Earths show how plants shape climate

2019

 Abigial Swann, PhD, University of Washington

Swann was selected for her mastery of conveying complex ideas with clarity, making science accessible to a variety of audiences.