Emmy® Award-winning scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor
Bill Nye has dedicated his life to helping foster a scientifically literate society and helping people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes the world work. His career began as an engineer at Boeing, but not long after going to work for them, Nye began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, developing dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. Eventually, Nye quit his day job and made the transition to a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s homegrown ensemble comedy show “Almost Live,” where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born.
Nye won seven national Emmy® Awards for writing, performing, and producing “Bill Nye the Science Guy®.” The show itself won 18 Emmys in five years. Nye has authored five children’s’ books about science: “Big Blast of Science,” “Bill Nye’s Consider the Following,” “Bill Nye The Science Guy’s Big Blue Ocean,” “Bill Nye The Science Guy’s Great Big Dinosaur Dig,” and “Bill Nye The Science Guy’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.” In addition to his children’s’ books, he is also the author of “Undeniable – Evolution and the Science of Creation,” which was featured on the New York Times’ Bestseller List.
Nye currently serves as CEO of the Planetary Society, the world’s largest space-interest group. Previously, he was elected the American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year in 2010, and he was also the honored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers with the Ralph Coates Roe Medal in 2012. In addition to his degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, he holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Goucher College, Johns Hopkins University, Quinnipiac University, Willamette University, and Lehigh University.
First doctor to discover and diagnose chronic brain damage in NFL athletes
Originally from eastern Nigeria, Dr. Bennet Omalu is the first doctor to discover and identify Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)—chronic brain damage—as a major factor in the deaths of several professional athletes. After he published his findings, he was summarily dismissed—and even ridiculed—by his professional peers, the NFL, and the sports industry. Omalu stood his ground in search of the truth, and today, CTE has become generally accepted in the medical field. His findings have revolutionized neuroscience, sports medicine, the study of all types of brain trauma, and the entire sports industry. In 2015, Omalu’s life and work were chronicled in a book and film, both titled “Concussion.”
In 2015, Omalu was awarded a WebMD Health Heroes award for his discovery and efforts to raise awareness of CTE. He is also a recipient of the United States Sports Academy’s highest award in sports medicine, the Dr. Ernst Jokl Sports Medicine Award. He holds eight medical and non-medical degrees and certifications, including a Master’s in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master’s in Public Heath in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In addition to his work as a forensic pathologist, neuropathologist, and epidemiologist, he is the President of Bennet Omalu Pathology, Inc., a private medico-legal consulting corporation He continues to advise governmental and non-governmental agencies, hospitals, corporations, industries, families, and private attorneys in complex medical and legal cases. Omalu lives in Sacramento with his wife Prema and their two children.
NBA all-time leading scorer, bestselling author, and U.S. Cultural Ambassador
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a six-time NBA champion. A triumphant CML Leukemia cancer survivor, he has a national platform as a regular contributing columnist for The Washington Post and Time Magazine, where he shares his thoughts on some of the most socially-relevant and politically-controversial topics facing our nation today. After 50 years as an athlete, activist, and New York Times bestselling author, he offers his perspectives on how we can work together to solve some of these issues as a nationally recognized speaker. His new political book, “Writings on the Wall – Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White” was released in August 2016 by Time Books and offers his personal perspectives on political issues facing America today.
In 2012, Abdul-Jabbar was appointed to be the U.S. Cultural Ambassador by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He is the founder and chairman of the Skyhook Foundation, whose mission is to “give kids a shot that can’t be blocked” by bringing educational opportunities to under-served communities through innovative outdoor environmental learning. Abdul-Jabbar’s most recent projects include the HBO Sports documentary “Kareem: Minority of One,” which debuted in early November 2015 as HBO’s most-watched and highest-rated sports documentary. His debut fiction novel “Mycroft Holmes” — the first of an action/mystery series based on Sherlock Holmes’s savvy older brother — was released by Titan Publishing in September 2015. Following the success of his novel, the comic “Mycroft Holmes & the Apocalypse Handbook” was released in July 2016.
Abduction survivor, motivational speaker, and bestselling author
Elizabeth Smart was abducted on June 5, 2002, sparking what would become one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Fortunately, the police safely returned Smart back to her family on March 12, 2003 after being held prisoner for nine grueling months. Because of this traumatic experience, Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs, and national legislation, even testifying before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction. The Founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, Elizabeth has also helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.
Elizabeth has chronicled her experiences in the New York Times bestselling book, “My Story.” In addition, she and other abduction survivors worked with the Department of Justice to create a survivors guide, titled, “You’re Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment.” The guide is meant to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences not to give up but to know that there is hope for a rewarding life.
Elizabeth’s abduction and recovery continue to motivate parents, law enforcement, and leaders worldwide to focus on children’s safety. She emphasizes vigilance by “everyday” people and the belief that hope always exists to find every missing child. Elizabeth’s example is a daily demonstration that there really is life after a tragic event.
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