CAST “Two-part Celebration” at National Press Club

April 20, 2015

Dr. Van Eenennaam–Communicating Science in a Networked World

Alison Van Eenennaam (UC-Davis professor and 2014 BCCA recipient) spoke about “Communicating Science in a Networked World” prior to the announcement of the 2015 BCCA winner. As CAST EVP Linda Chimenti said, “It was a two-part celebration. Alison’s speech was truly thought provoking, and the selection of Dr. Prakash as the BCCA recipient was very well received.”

Sponsored by CAST and DuPont, a video of the event is available here. It features Dr. Van Eenennaam’s presentation and several speeches about Dr. Prakash, the 2015 BCCA winner. The page includes a separate link to Van Eenennaam’s four-minute, high-energy video about “a year in the life of a BCCA winner.”


Dr. Prakash Influential in the Realms of Science, Education, and Communication

Dr. Channapatna Prakash is a respected scientist–but he is also an effective communicator. Colleagues focus on the widespread influence Prakash has had in the agricultural community. As one nominator pointed out, Prakash’s position involves research and teaching, but he has “arguably done more than anyone else in academia or industry to promote agricultural technologies that can help feed the world’s growing population.”

As a professor of crop genetics, biotechnology, and genomics at Tuskegee University in Alabama, Prakash conducts research and educational outreach–working actively to help educate communities and schools across the globe on both technical and societal issues of agricultural biotechnology.

Prakash was instrumental in establishing the plant biotechnology research and training program at Tuskegee University. In the classroom, he uses storytelling, discussions, guest lectures, and technology to keep lessons exciting–his students become life-long learners. His research focuses on crop genomics, genetics, and biotechnology. He has many “firsts” to his scientific credits, including the development of a transgenic (genetically engineered) sweet potato.

Prakash once served on the USDA’s Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee for the Department of Biotechnology with the government of India. He is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, and he has won numerous accolades and honors, including the Progressive Farmer “Man of the Year” award.

Educated in India and Australia, Prakash has strong connections with those who have made an impact on global food production. Norman Borlaug once praised him for “bringing common sense into the use of biotechnology,” and Julie Borlaug Larson says that Prakash–much like her grandfather–is “dedicated to utilizing science and technology to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations.”

Established in 1986 by CAST, the annual award goes to a specialist who communicates the importance of food and agricultural science. Prakash accomplishes this through his scientific publications, presentations, public outreach, and willingness to engage both conventional and social media. Many note his ability to communicate to “every kind of audience… in every medium available.” He uses social media, radio/TV interviews, and other methods to emphasize the potential of agricultural technology. As Dr. Nina Fedoroff of Penn State University said, “He is one of the strongest and most consistent voices countering the spread of misinformation.”

Prakash is known for his efforts to enhance the public understanding of agricultural biotechnology issues. He has worked in the field, on the pages of his popular newsletter AgBioView (from 2000 to 2012), and on the digital highways. He engages online audiences with stories, memes, infographics, and a dose of wit–entertaining while also educating.

A popular speaker, Prakash has delivered more than 500 public lectures in more than 70 countries. He has written more than 100 articles and appeared on numerous radio and television shows. He works with students, farmers, researchers, and university staff members–he even spoke with Pope Francis at the Vatican “Bread and Brain” meeting. Prakash is a scientist, but he is also certainly a communicator. As a farmer from India wrote, “Dr. Prakash has ensured that scientists extend their horizon beyond the lab and speak out for the farming community.”

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