UAB’s Parcak to receive Smithsonian’s 2016 American Ingenuity Award

UAB’s Parcak to receive Smithsonian’s 2016 American Ingenuity Award
UAB's Sarah Parcak is being honored with a Smithsonian 2016 American Ingenuity Award. (Freddie Claire/BBC)

Sarah Parcak, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham associate professor and 2016 TED Prize winner, will be honored with a 2016 American Ingenuity Award by Smithsonian Magazine.

The magazine presents the awards annually in nine categories: technology, performing arts, visual arts, life and physical sciences, education, history, social progress and youth achievement. The Smithsonian has been celebrating innovation in American culture for more than 150 years; the American Ingenuity Award is its highest honor, recognizing revolutionary breakthroughs in these areas.

Parcak is an archaeologist, Egyptologist and expert in the field of remote sensing. She uses satellites and high-resolution imagery to uncover ancient sites around the world.

In addition to Parcak, the Smithsonian 2016 American Ingenuity Awards recognized Christopher Gray, a Birmingham native and creator of the Scholly app that matches students to scholarships.

Gray got a major boost for his young startup when he went on the ABC show “Shark Tank” and convinced Lori Greiner and Daymond John to invest $40,000 in his business.

Gray, whose company is based in Philadelphia, has met with Bill Gates, been honored by Oprah Winfrey and invited twice to the White House.

Other awardees of the 2016 American Ingenuity Award include comedian Aziz Ansari; Jeff Bezos, founder of; Michigan mother LeeAnne Walters and Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, who helped expose water quality issues in Flint, Michigan; director David Lynch, whose “Quiet Time Program” brings meditation to inner-city schools; and the band “OK Go,” for their music video shot in zero gravity, which was directed by band member Damian Kulash with Trish Sie.

Parcak, Gray and other awardees will be honored at a ceremony this month.

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