The Smithsonian Institution tends to highlight physical items of historical or cultural significance, but every year, the Smithsonian magazine moves its focus to actual people with historical or cultural significance for its American Ingenuity Awards. The winners come from nine different categories, all of which are based around the betterment of society in one way or another, and this year they include recognizable famous people like Aziz Ansari, David Lynch, and the members of OK Go. Evidently, comedy shows, spooky dramas, and gimmicky music videos are actually making the world a better place.
The winners will be highlighted at an awards ceremony on December 8, and each one will also be included in a special American Ingenuity Awards issue of the Smithsonian magazine that will be available later this month. The press release doesn’t specify whether the winners will receive a special plaque or trophy, but we imagine they’ll at least get a nice sash to wear around.
The full list of honorees is below:
Social Progress: Marc Edwards and LeeAnne Walters, a professor and mother (respectively) who helped spread awareness of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
History: Sarah Parcak, a “space archaeologist” who uses satellite imagery to discover ancient sites.
Youth Achievement: Christopher Gray, a high school student who developed an app that helps students find scholarships for college.
Technology: Jeff Bezos, a rich businessman whose Blue Origin company is making big advancements in space travel. (He’s also the Amazon guy.)
Visual Arts: Ok Go, for its zero-gravity music video.
Performing Arts: Aziz Ansari, for his “fresh and innovative television show” Master Of None.
Education: David Lynch, for promoting the benefits of transcendental meditation in “high-stress” schools. (We made a joke about spooky dramas up above, but he’s actually being honored for this.)
Physical Sciences: Kip Thorne, Ray Weiss, Barry Barish, and Ronald Drever, for observing gravitational waves for the first time ever.
Life Sciences: Anthony Atala, for his work on 3D-printed blood vessels.