Ava DuVernay attends the 2017 Film Independent filmmaker grant and Spirit Award nominees brunch on January 7, 2017 in West Hollywood, California.
Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images
By Jennifer Calfas
October 31, 2017

From a groundbreaking director and screenwriter to a 12-year-old who is changing what children read, this year’s recipients of Smithsonian Magazine’s annual American Ingenuity Awards boast a wide-ranging set of accomplishments.

Smithsonian Magazine last week announced its winners for the annual awards, which honor innovators in a variety of fields, including technology, history, performing arts, physical sciences and more.

Ava DuVernay, who became the first female African-American director to have a film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards with 2014’s Selma, will be honored for her achievements in the visual arts category. Singer-songwriter John Legend, who has used his platform as a celebrity to advocate for criminal justice reform and other issues, will receive the award for the performing arts category.

Jony Ive, the chief design officer at Apple who is responsible for many of the company’s designs, won the Technology award.

Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin won the History award for their Tony Award-winning musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, which is an adaptation of a section of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

For the Social Progress award, Sesame Workshop, the non-profit that supports Sesame Street, won for creating the first Muppet with autism.

Marley Dias, the 12-year-old who created #1000BlackGirlBooks after she noticed a lack of racial representation in children’s literature, won for the Youth category.

As for the sciences, Gary Steinberg, the chair of neurology at Stanford University, won for Life Sciences, and Natalie Batalha, mission scientist for NASA’s Kepler Mission, which is searching the Milky Way for other Earth-like planets, won for Physical Sciences.

The award recipients will be honored at an event at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 29.

Last year, Jeff Bezos, Aziz Ansari and the scientists who exposed the water crisis in Flint, Mich., won several of the awards.

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