UChicago announces recipients of Academic Communicators Network awards for 2024

The annual Academic Communicators Network Excellence Awards recognize the outstanding contribution of academics who excel at sharing their field-defining research and expertise with the public. Four University of Chicago scholars have received awards in 2024: Prof. Selwyn O. Rogers Jr. for media relations, Prof. John List for digital communications, Asst. Senior Instructional Prof. Peggy Heffington for op-ed writing and Prof. Luigi Zingales for best overall communicator.

They were selected by the awards committee (composed of the ACN Faculty Advisory Committee, the Office of the Provost and University Communications) from numerous entries submitted by faculty, staff and academic leadership.

Established in 2018, ACN supports UChicago faculty and other academics across disciplines in sharing their research with a variety of external audiences. The program is a partnership between the Office of the Provost and University Communications, and offers programming throughout the year on topics including presentation delivery, media training, opinion writing and more. The program also hosts a media engagement platform as a resource for journalists interested in connecting with faculty experts.

"Academics are trusted and reliable sources of information, and there is a real demand for UChicago scholars to share their research and expertise,” said Paul M. Rand, vice president for communications. “The ACN Excellence Awards honor UChicago academics for their outstanding efforts in effectively communicating their groundbreaking work and its far-reaching impact to the global community.”

Media relations award: Selwyn O. Rogers Jr.

University Communications fields more than 950 ACN media requests each year. The media relations award recognizes scholars who demonstrate leadership while working with online, broadcast and print news media to promote their research and scholarship.

A leading voice on the impact of gun violence on individuals, families and communities, Selwyn O. Rogers Jr. is the Dr. James E. Bowman Jr. Professor of Surgery and the founding director of the University of Chicago Medicine Trauma Center. Rogers has garnered more than 420 media hits in the 2022 to 2023 academic year in national outlets and Chicago-based newspapers, magazines and TV programs—many of which reached South Side communities.

A widely respected surgeon and public health expert, Rogers has published op-ed articles in the Chicago Tribune and the New England Journal of Medicine on the cost of gun violence, the emotional toll of trauma care and racial inequities that affect victims in underserved populations. He has brought his perspective and expertise on these issues in interviews with CNN, ABC 7 Chicago, WGN-TV, the Hyde Park Herald and other outlets—and has been instrumental in building relationships between journalists and colleagues at UChicago Medicine.

Op-ed writing award: Peggy Heffington

The op-ed writing award honors academics who write insightful op-eds and have received recognition in noteworthy publications, sharing their research and scholarship with external audiences.

Peggy Heffington is an assistant senior instructional professor who teaches and writes on feminism, women’s movements, and motherhood in American and European history. Recently, she has written on the long history of non-motherhood and non-biological parenthood, reframing contemporary discourse on rising rates of childlessness today.

Her op-ed articles have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Jezebel, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Review of Books and elsewhere. Heffington also has recently appeared in interviews with NPR, WBEZ Chicago and ABC News Live.

Digital communications award: John List

The digital communications award recognizes scholars who used innovative ways to highlight their research and scholarship on digital channels.

John List, the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, has focused his research and public communications on issues including the inner-workings of markets, how behavioral economics can augment the standard economic model, early childhood education and interventions, the gender earnings gap in the gig economy and other issues.

In the past year, he has collaborated on website projects including Economics for Everyone—an innovative platform providing an engaging UChicago curriculum to wide audiences—and an online economics research hub for generating new research and initiatives in the field. Additionally, List’s X account has a wide following and makes economics accessible to the general public.

Best overall communicator award: Luigi Zingales

The best overall communicator award honors scholars who excel in two or more of the other ACN award categories: media relations, op-ed writing and digital communications.

Luigi Zingales is the Robert C. McCormack Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance. His podcast and media engagement efforts reflect his research interests, which span from corporate governance to financial development, from political economy to the economic effects of culture. Zingales created and co-hosts the Capitalisn’t podcast, which has reached nearly three million downloads, is heard in more than 190 countries and has been cited in publications such as The New York Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

In addition to Capitalisn’t, Zingales engages with the public through media engagement, op-ed writing and his popular X account. He has been quoted extensively in outlets including The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Forbes, NPR, The New Yorker and more. He has also penned op-ed articles on his pivotal work with Nobel laureate Oliver Hart, and appeared in a viral television segment on Bloomberg News following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in the U.S.

Join ACN

All UChicago faculty, lecturers, postdoctoral researchers and other academic appointees are invited to join and participate in ACN. To learn more, visit the ACN website.