Established in 1993 to honor Sen. John Heinz (R-PA), who was killed in a plane crash in 1991, the awards, among the largest prizes for individual achievement in the world, recognize significant accomplishment in five areas that were important to the senator: arts and humanities; the environment; the human condition; public policy; and technology, the economy, and employment. As in 2009, this year the family foundation chose to honor Sen. Heinz's commitment to the environment by awarding $100,000 prizes to ten individuals — instead of $250,000 to five individuals — whose achievements have contributed to a cleaner, more sustainable planet.
This year's awardees are James Balog, a photographer with the Extreme Ice Survey; Frederick vom Saal, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri; Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust; Terrence Collins, professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University's Institute for Green Science; Gretchen Daily, professor of biological sciences at Stanford University and chair of the Natural Capital Project; Daniel Sperling, a professor and founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis; Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer at the New Yorker; Michael Oppenheimer, director of the program in science, technology, and environmental policy at Princeton University; Richard Feely, senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory; and Lynn Goldman, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University.
"We're living in a time of unprecedented global change. Our planet is facing rising temperatures, and our communities are affected by toxic chemicals that weren't on the market a hundred years ago," said Heinz Family Foundation chair Teresa Heinz. "We're recognizing innovators who are tackling some of the most vexing problems facing our planet."