Smithsonian chose people in categories across the sciences as well as in technology, history and visual arts. Marc Edwards and LeeAnne Walters won the Social Progress category for their work exposing the water crisis in Flint, Mich., through widespread water testing and by publicizing the results.
Smithsonian summed up their contribution in the announcement: "Without these whistleblowers, we may never have known the full extent of the Flint water crisis."
Jeff Bezos won the Technology award because Blue Origin, the spaceflight company he founded, created the first rocket to ever launch into space, land on earth and launch into space another time.
Comedian Aziz Ansari won for creating and starring in Netflix original show Master of None, which Smithsonian called "a true American original." And the band OK Go won Visual Arts for its low-gravity music video.
The winners will be honored at the ceremony on Dec. 8 at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. For the full list of winners, including space archaeologist Sarah Parcak and 3-D organ printing expert Anthony Atala, read more here.