The Pittsburgh-based has announced the recipients of the seventeenth annual .
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 Senator Heinz. Although this year the awards focus singularly on the environment, winners were chosen to reflect at least one of the other award categories recognized in previous years, including arts and humanities, the human condition, public policy, technology, and the economy.
This year's awardees are John Luther Adams, an independent composer living in Fairbanks, Alaska; Richard Alley, an international leader in climate and polar ice studies; Janine Benyus, a pioneer in the field of biomimicry engineering; Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, the team behind the Peabody award-winning documentary ; Louis J. Guillette, an internationally recognized expert on the effect of chemicals on the reproductive anatomy, genetics, and physiology of wildlife; Joan Kleypas, who took her breakthrough research on the impacts of climate change on coral reefs to Congress and helped to ensure the passage of the ; Nancy Knowlton, founder of the at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Nancy Rabalais, who has conducted intensive research on the low oxygen area or "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and its ecological impact; and Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and ecologist who has dedicated her career to highlighting the link between toxic chemicals and diseases as well as engaging the public as a cancer survivor.
"At a time when so much of our public discourse is about constraints and the limits of possibility, these men and women offer an inspiring reminder that change always comes from those who see past today's boundaries to a world of new possibilities and new discoveries," said Heinz Family Foundation chair Teresa Heinz. "Their ingenuity and persistence is a refreshing reminder of America's can-do spirit."