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Nomination Deadline: June 30, 2024 11:59pm ET

The AAAS Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science, formerly the AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology, was established in 1987 to recognize scientists and engineers who demonstrate excellence in their contribution to public engagement with science. The recipient receives a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and recognition at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

Beginning with the 2019 award year, the award is endowed by and named for quantum physicist Mani L. Bhaumik. Bhaumik is internationally known for the advances he made to excimer laser technology, which eventually led to Lasik eye surgery. He hopes to elevate recognition of working and retired scientists for their exceptional efforts to communicate science in ways that inform and engage the public.

Under the auspices of this new endowment, the award has an increased and renewed focus on public engagement. Public engagement activities emphasize dialogue with various publics and often result from a public interaction, request, or need. Specifically, these activities are defined as the individual’s active participation in efforts to engage with the public on science- and technology-related issues and promote meaningful exchanges between science and society, as highlighted here.

The award is presented each year at the AAAS Annual Meeting. View a list of all past recipients.


  • Nominations may be made by individuals, universities, government agencies, media, research organizations, and AAAS affiliate organizations. One nominator can nominate multiple candidates.
  • Editors from publishing houses may only offer one nomination.
  • Self-nominations are permitted.
  • Prior nomination does not exclude a nominee applying in subsequent years. Re-nomination is encouraged.
  • Nominee must be an individual scientist, mathematician, or engineer. Groups or institutions will not be considered for this award. 
  • AAAS employees are ineligible.
  • Eligible nominees include active or retired scientists and engineers from all disciplines (including social sciences, mathematics, engineering, and medicine) who have contributed substantially to the public's engagement with science or technology. They may be based in academia, government or industry. Public engagement activities must be above and beyond job responsibilities.
  • Nominees considered “early career” may be eligible for the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.  Early career is defined as an individual who has completed their terminal degree within seven years of the deadline for nominations.

Required Materials

All nominations must be submitted electronically through our nomination site. If you require an alternate format, please contact awards@aaas.org and include the award name in the subject title. Nominations and supporting materials will not be accepted by email or by post.

Nominations and materials must be in English.

You will be asked to provide:

  • Name, email address, institution, position, professional address and phone number of the nominee.
  • Name, email address, institution, position, professional address and phone number of the nominator (if not a self-nomination). 
  • Nomination statement describing the public engagement activities that form the basis for the nomination.
    • This statement of no more than 2 pages should discuss the nominee’s approach to public engagement.  It should emphasize the nominee’s public engagement goal(s), intended audience(s), and message(s), as well as the level and type of dialogue achieved with their audiences, evaluation of public engagement work, and examples of how public engagement has affected the nominee’s scientific work. 
    • More information about AAAS’s approach to public engagement is available in the Center for Public Engagement's Communication Toolkit.
  • The nominee’s curriculum vitae
    • Limit CV to five pages, with a specific section highlighting public engagement activities distinct from work that is required as part of the nominee’s job. If the CV is longer than five pages, only the first five pages will be considered.
  • At least two (up to five) representative samples or other documentation which illustrate or describe the nominee’s public engagement contributions
    • Samples should exhibit the activities discussed in the statement and further contribute to the narrative of the nomination, showing different representations of the breadth of their public engagement.
    • Letters of support (up to two) are optional and count toward the five sample/document limit. Letters should provide more insight into the candidate's public engagement and discuss their accomplishments and can be written by a colleague, supervisor, or participant. 
  • If the nominee uses social media as part of their public engagement work, there will be a space to include all relevant accounts

All materials submitted become the property of AAAS. 

​​​Selection and Criteria

  • One scientist or engineer will be chosen to receive the award each year and will be announced at the AAAS Annual Meeting.
  • Successful nominees will have demonstrated excellence in their contributions to public engagement with science activities, with a focus on interactive dialogue between the individual and their audience(s).
    • Types of public engagement activities might include but are not limited to: informal science education; public engagement and public dialogue activities, such as science cafés and science festivals; public policy activities; science communication activities, such as mass media, including radio, TV, books, and film; and social media.
  • The selection committee includes distinguished scientists, engineers,and public engagement practitioners named by AAAS. Decisions of the committee are final after approval by the board.
  • AAAS may ask winners to contribute to public engagement with science by speaking to groups of AAAS constituencies, helping to identify scientists to participate in AAAS engagement events, and participating in other AAAS activities related to public engagement with science.

​​​The award selection committee will evaluate nominations through the questions below.  Nominees will possibly excel in one category more than others. 

  1. Does the candidate demonstrate active participation in public engagement activities?
  2. Does the candidate approach public engagement work thoughtfully and strategically?
  3. Does the candidate reach a critical audience(s)?
  4. Does the candidate use appropriate and innovative messages to address important topic(s)?
  5. Does the candidate approach engagement in thoughtful and/or innovative ways?
  6. Does the candidate demonstrate a focus on active engagement with the audience(s)?
  7. Does the candidate’s public engagement have a high impact
  8. Does the candidate demonstrate excellence in their field of research?


All information must be submitted electronically through our submission site by 11:59pm ET on June 30. Late nominations will not be accepted.