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ACS News

Alan Alda Receives Public Service Award

by Linda Wang
September 30, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 39

Credit: Linda Wang
ACS President Marinda Li Wu (right) presents Alda with a trophy.
ACS President Marinda Li Wu (right) presents Alan Alda with the ACS Award for Public Service during the ACS national meeting in Indianapolis.
Credit: Linda Wang
ACS President Marinda Li Wu (right) presents Alda with a trophy.

The American Chemical Society has presented Alan Alda, best known for his role in the TV series “M*A*S*H,” with the ACS Award for Public Service, which recognizes outstanding contributions to public service or to the development of public policy that benefits the chemical sciences. Alda, who is a strong supporter of science communication, was presented with a trophy and then gave a talk at the fall ACS national meeting in Indianapolis.

Alda is a founding member of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, SUNY, where he uses improvisational theater exercises to help scientists share their work and their passion with the public. He also started the center’s annual Flame Challenge contest, which invites scientists to explain complex scientific concepts to 11-year-olds.

From 1993 to 2005, Alda hosted PBS’s “Scientific American Frontiers,” and in 2006, he received the National Science Board’s Public Service Award “for his contagious enthusiasm in fostering wonder and discovery.” In 2010, he received the American Association for the Advancement of Science Kavli Science Journalism Award for his PBS series “The Human Spark.”

Linda Wang compiles this section. Announcements of awards may be sent to


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