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Contributed by David Maley on 09/14/2011
The Heinz Family Foundation has named scientist and author Sandra Steingraber as one of 10 recipients of the Heinz Award, given for significant achievements benefiting the environment. A Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Steingraber has dedicated her career to shedding light on the links between cancer and environmental contamination. The award carries with it an unrestricted $100,000 cash prize.
“Dr. Steingraber brings attention to the effects of chemical contaminants on human health,” said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation. “Through her personal story, writings and public speaking, she powerfully communicates the environmental links to cancer and other health problems and points us to meaningful ways to address these challenges.”
A biologist as well as a cancer survivor herself, Steingraber came to prominence with the 1997 book “Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment.” Her second book, “Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood,” was both a memoir of her own pregnancy with her daughter and an investigation of fetal toxicology. This past spring she published “Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis,” speaking as both a scientist and a mother about the joys of bringing up her son while searching for ways to shield him — and all children — from the toxic, climate-threatened world they inhabit.
“I’m thrilled to receive a Heinz Award in recognition of my research and writing on environmental health,” said Steingraber. “This is work made possible by my residency as a scholar within the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Ithaca College. Many past and present Heinz Award winners are personal heroes of mine — and Teresa Heinz herself is a champion of women’s environmental health — so this recognition carries special meaning for me. I intend to devote my prize money to the fight against hydrofracking in upstate New York, which I believe is the environmental issue of our time.”
The Heinz Awards annually recognize individuals creating and implementing workable solutions to the problems the world faces through invention, research and education while inspiring the next generation of modern thinkers. Winners this year were chosen who address the intersection of the environment with one of the other award categories recognized in many previous years, including arts and humanities, human condition, public policy, technology and the economy. The Heinz Family Foundation began as a charitable trust established by the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. His widow, Teresa Heinz, established the Heinz Awards in 1993 to honor and sustain the legacy of her late husband.
Heralded by the Sierra Club as “the new Rachel Carson,” Steingraber has testified before the President’s Cancer Panel and the European Parliament and participated in briefings for members of Congress and United Nations delegates. Her honors include the Rachel Carson Leadership Award from Carson’s alma mater, Chatham College; the Hero Award from the Breast Cancer Fund; and the Environmental Health Champion Award from Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles.
In addition to the cash award, recipients are presented with a medallion inscribed with the image of Senator Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other. The Heinz Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on November 15.