2017 Mensa Foundation Award winners announced

Mensa Foundation Prize
Honoring discoveries in intelligence and creativity

Dr. David SilverThe Foundation Trustees are proud to present the inaugural Prize to Dr. David Silver, who led DeepMind’s efforts to develop the first computer program to defeat the world’s best Go players.

Silver was the main programmer on the AlphaGo team at DeepMind and its primary developer. AlphaGo, comprising a complex algorithm and artificial intelligence software, became the first program to defeat a human professional Go player in 2015. The results were published the following year in Nature. Go has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence due to the enormous complexity of the game. AlphaGo won all three games in May 2017 against Chinese grandmaster Ke Jie, the world’s top Go player.

Lifetime Achievement Award
For contributions to the field of intelligence and related subjects

Dr. Howard GardnerA scholar, author and professor, Dr. Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

His Theory of Multiple Intelligences has been cited by fellow researchers nearly 30,000 times. Gardner’s accolades include MacArthur (1981) and John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2000) fellowships. He ranked fifth among top academic influencers in the 2017 Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings.

Copper Black Award for Creative Achievement
Recognizing a Mensan for exceptional creativity and problem solving

Natalie HamptonCreator of the successful Sit with Us app, Natalie Hampton is being honored for her work as an anti-bullying advocate. Natalie recognized the efficacy of student-led anti-bullying initiatives and, capitalizing on positive media attention, she’s taken her advocacy nationwide with the potential for worldwide reach.

She has spoken at multiple conferences and has partnered with a handful of anti-bullying organizations to promote a message of inclusion, starting with this work ensuring kids never have to sit alone at lunch. A member of Greater Los Angeles Mensa, Natalie aspires to study psychology and neuroscience in college.

Distinguished Teacher Award
Recognizing a teacher for his positive influence on the education or life of a Mensa member

Benjamin Rudolph“I believe that the most impactful learning is done when students engage in discovery based on learning experiences,” says Benjamin Rudolph, who teaches 6th grade Advanced Academics at Keene Mill Elementary in Springfield, Va. Mensan Aiden D., who nominated Benjamin, called him a “Superhero of Imagination” who gave “us all a sense of responsibility in our learning.”

Rudolph’s superhero powers include the Google20time Project, in which students spend the entire school year developing a research question, finding existing information about the topic, and then creating a “product” that demonstrates their learning.

Laura Joyner Award
For outstanding work in the area of human intelligence

Dr. Denise SpirouDr. Denise Spirou “is simply a powerhouse in the field of gifted education here in southeast Florida,” according to one nominating letter.

Spirou leads the Greene School, an experimental private elementary school for high-performing students in West Palm Beach and has taught and provided Gifted Endorsement Coursework for more than 400 teachers in Florida. Her Facebook page, Growing the Gifted Mind with Dr. Spirou, is a platform to understand how the gifted mind works and how individuals process information.

Intellectual Benefits To Society Award
For the application of Mensan’s intellectual abilities that result in a tangible benefit to society

Dr. Harold LyonDr. Harold Lyon, after working with the White House Task Force on the Gifted and Talented, became the first national Director of Education for the Gifted and Talented at the U.S. Department of Education. Under his leadership, teams of leaders were trained in every state, private foundation support was stimulated and national mentor programs were developed.

A member of New Hampshire Mensa, Lyon worked to broaden the federal definition of gifted and talented to include divergent-thinking creative children. Lyon worked with Sen. Jacob Javits to pass the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act.

Awards for Excellence in Resarch

The Mensa Foundation's Awards for Excellence in Research are given internationally for outstanding research on intelligence, intellectual giftedness and related fields. Recognizing outstanding research on aspects of human intelligence and giftedness, this year’s recipients are:

2017 Senior Division

Dr. David Lubinski, Vanderbilt University: From Terman to Today: A Century of Findings on Intellectual Precocity

Dr. Jennifer Riedl Cross, College of William & Mary: Social Coping and Self-Concept Among Young Gifted Students in Ireland and the United States: A Cross-Cultural Study

Dr. Matthew C. Makel, Duke University: When Lightning Strikes Twice: Profoundly Gifted, Profoundly Accomplished

Dr. Bruce Shore, McGill University, Canada: Social-Perspective Coordination and Gifted Adolescents’ Friendship Quality

Dr. Nicholas Benson, Baylor University: Examining the Integrity of Measurement of the Cognitive Abilities in the Prediction of Achievement: Comparisons and Contrasts across Variables From Higher-Order and Bifactor Models

2017 Junior Division

Dr. Tanja Gabriele Baudson, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany: The Mad Genius Stereotype: Still Alive and Well

Dr. Ryan J. McGill, College of William & Mary: Invalidating the Full Scale IQ Score in the Presence of Significant Factor Score Variability: Clinical Acumen or Clinical Illusion?

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