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News Release 99-035

Public Service Awards Go to Stephen Jay Gould and PBS' Bill Nye, "The Science Guy"

NSB to honor paleontologist/author and science program's producers

May 3, 1999

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Board (NSB) has named noted paleontologist, author and science popularizer Stephen Jay Gould along with the producers of the Public Broadcasting System's (PBS) Bill Nye the Science Guy, to receive the NSB's second annual Public Service Award. The award honors outstanding individual and organizational contributions to public understanding of science and engineering.

Gould's investigations of evolution, together with those of his colleague Niles Eldredge, have resulted in the seminal concept of punctuated equilibrium, arguably the most significant insight into evolution's mechanisms since Darwin. His contributions to the study of "systematics" (biodiversity and its historical patterns and processes) have significantly influenced that science.

"His public service really covers two fronts," David Perlman, chair of the award selection committee, said. "His seminal contributions to evolutionary science are enormous--and so are his inexhaustible efforts to bring an appreciation of science and understanding of its concepts to the widest possible audiences."

Gould's nearly 20 books, countless essays, lecturing and teaching, plus his advisory role to PBS' NOVA series (which won last year's NSB Public Service Award) and The Children's Television Workshop, have contributed to what Perlman described as "a profound influence on every literate person's thinking about nature and the world around us."

The production team of the television series, Bill Nye the Science Guy, the entertaining and innovative hands-on science program for young people, is receiving the NSB's organizational Public Service Award for 1999. The team includes executive producers Elizabeth Brock, Erren Gottlieb and James McKenna, as well as host and head writer Bill Nye. The four together worked to develop the pilot program, and then produce 100 episodes of the series. The program originates from the studios of KCTS-TV in Seattle, Wash. and is distributed by PBS and Disney's Buena Vista.

"Nye's team of dedicated people has taken science out of the classroom and laboratory and added elements of adventure to excite kids' own curiosities," Richard Zare, Stanford chemistry professor and member of the selection committee, said. "Mix in a little of their own craziness, and they prove each day how science is inherently tied to everyday life. This award also celebrates the many supplementary materials and educational kits that have made Bill Nye the Science Guy a special forum for advancing the public's understanding and appreciation of science."

Bill Nye the Science Guy is an 11-time Emmy Award winner (and is nominated for eight awards in 1999). In addition to its syndicated run, the program airs on more than 300 television outlets around the world. It has won the Television Critics Association's Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming Award, and is a three-time Parent's Choice Award winner. In addition, the program has twice earned the Environmental Media Award.

The NSB will honor the awardees at a ceremony and dinner at the U.S. Department of State on May 5 in Washington, D.C.


Media Contacts
William C. Noxon, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Principal Investigators
Susan Fannoney, NSF, (703) 292-8096, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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