Karen Bakker’s The Sounds of Life awarded the AAAS/SB&F Prize

The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Plants and Animals by Karen Bakker has been awarded the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, in the Young Adult Science Book category. 

The Sounds of Life takes readers on a remarkable journey into the worlds of non-human sound. Interweaving traditional knowledge with cutting edge innovations, Bakker introduces readers to a myriad of conversations taking place in the natural world—many audible to the human ear for the first time thanks to groundbreaking digital technologies, including artificial intelligence. Highlighting the work of scientists using sound to protect and regenerate endangered species, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Arctic and the Amazon, and the researchers building dictionaries of East African Elephant and Sperm Whalish, Bakker illuminates a hopeful path forward for conservation and affirms humanity’s relationship with nature in the digital age.

Winner of the Sigurd. F. Olson Nature Writing Award and the Nautilus Book Award, Animals and Nature Section, The Sounds of Life published in October 2022 to wide acclaim. The book has been praised as “meticulously researched and colorfully presented…a wonderful mix of animal ecology, narratives of science-doing, futurism, and accounts of Indigenous knowledge” (Science); “a fascinating and forward-looking book” (Psychology Today); and “a beautifully written study” (Nature) that is “full of stories of wonder and curiosity about the world of sound that constantly surrounds humanity” (Mongabay). A paperback edition of The Sounds of Nature is scheduled to publish in March 2024 (May 2024 in the United Kingdom).

Karen Bakker was a scholar at the University of British Columbia and entrepreneur who worked at the crossroads of technology and ecology. The author of seven books and more than 100 scholarly articles, Bakker also led The Smart Earth Project, which explores the impacts of digital technologies on environmental sustainability. In a tremendous loss to the many communities of learning she inhabited and impacted, Bakker passed away in August 2023, before the announcement of this latest recognition for The Sounds of Life.

The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults and is meant to encourage the writing and publishing of high-quality science books for all ages. 

PUP author Kenneth Catania was awarded the Prize in 2022 for Great Adaptations: Star-Nosed Moles, Electric Eels, and Other Tales of Evolution’s Mysteries Solved and Beth Shapiro won in 2016 for How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction. Both were recognized in the Young Adult Science Book category.