How we picked our finalists

Nominees were submitted through an online form that was open to the public through the month of February 2021. You can view all nominees on our web map here.

Please note that we will continue to accept submissions going forward so that we may continue to build the list of resources providing COVID-19 data across the country. No further submissions will be considered for the award, though.

From the pool of more than 400 unique nominees, our board reviewed the submissions and narrowed the group to 25 finalists in five different groups:

  1. The Newcomers, recognizing five young, talented individuals who may be new to the data-science scene, but are making an immediate and profound impression. Each of the nominees in our Newcomers group are students, from high school to doctoral studies, and each made a tangible difference in their community from their efforts in communicating the data to the public.

  1. The Specialists, rewarding a a group made of five amazing doctors, researchers and academics who dedicated their time and energy to furthering our collective understanding of the disease and its trends through their use of data-driven communications.

  1. The Professionals, five nominees whose experience in producing high-quality data reporting applications played an integral role in keeping the public informed of the facts during COVID-19. From early-career scientists to executives of software companies, this group used their talents in data science and communication to build applications, deliver free and public data resources, and communicate the nuances of data and data reporting.

  1. The Press, five carefully-chosen members of the media whose vital role in informing the public through data- and science-based journalism has never been more vital nor difficult. Our nominees for members of the press who made data central to their COVID-19 reporting ranged from small-time newspaper writers to national and prime-time network news anchors. To review nominees in our press cohort, we developed a unique set of questions based on each nominee’s media portfolio and body of work related to data and data reporting during COVID-19.

  1. The Provocateurs, five nominees serving the critical role of advocates for data access, transparency, and advocacy, even when it became difficult and even dangerous to do so. The five nominees in this cohort represent the best cross-section of every other group, and who made advocacy and a commitment to transparency and data access the primary focus of their efforts.

Some of the criteria used to evaluate submissions include:

  • Does the nominee regularly, transparently and accurately report data and data analysis about COVID-19?
  • Is the nominee’s primary focus data and data analysis, or reporting on data and data analysis?
  • Has the nominee advanced their community’s understanding of COVID-19 through data, analysis or information?
  • Has the nominee used creative and innovative approaches in reporting data, analysis and information about COVID-19?
  • Has the nominee encountered opposition or even retaliation for their work? How did the nominee respond to those pressures?

Through this process, we narrowed down our finalists.

Online voting opens Friday, March 5, and will continue through March 30, 2021.

You can vote for one finalist out of each cohort. We ask that you review each finalist’s profile before casting a vote, and that you share each of our amazing nominees with your own social and community networks. Each nominee is deserving of the final prize and all of the praise that comes with it.

Winners will be announced at 5:00 PM on March 31, 2021.

Each of our five-member judging panel will review the finalists and submit their choices. We will announce the members of the judging panel after the final awards are announced to avoid any “courting” of our judges by finalists. The results from online voting will represent one vote out of the five-member panel.

We also interviewed and included profiles for a number of nominees who did not become finalists, which you can view by browsing by state or by cohort using the menu at the top of the page. We will continue to build profiles and add submissions as we receive them.

We want to thank everyone who submitted the hard-working newcomers, professionals, specialists, press and provocateurs last month. The goal of this project centered on gathering resources and celebrating those who put blood, sweat and tears into communicating data and keeping their communities informed.

We will continue to update the list of nominees, profile pages, and our map of our data heroes as we continue to process submissions


StateNameCohortTwitter HandleWebsite
AlabamaDavid MarconnetPros@BamaTracker
AlabamaDr. Bertha HidalgoSpecialists@berthahidalgo
AlabamaDr. Ellen Eaton Specialists@DrEllenEaton
AlaskaDr. Anne ZinkSpecialists@annezinkmd
ArizonaAndy FlachNewcomers@AndyfromTuscon
ArizonaGarrett ArcherPress@Garett_Archer
ArizonaNicole GriggPress@NicoleSGrigg
ArkansasMisty OprinNewcomers@arkansasCovid, @mistytrails
CaliforniaAllie CanningtonProvocateurs@AllieCannington
CaliforniaChristian HammondPros@bc19live, or @chipx86
CaliforniaJessica Malaty RiveraSpecialists@jessicamalaty
CaliforniaJorge CaballeroProvocateurs@DataDrivenMD
CaliforniaLauryn SchroederPress@LaurynSchroed
CaliforniaPatrick McKenziePros@patio11
CaliforniaSoumya KarlamanglaPress@skarlamangla
ColoradoDr. Shelly MillerSpecialists@ShellyMBoulder
ColoradoMarmi LePros@marmimle
District of ColumbiaAlexis
District of ColumbiaAndy
District of ColumbiaEric Feigl-DingSpecialists@DrEricDing
District of ColumbiaLeana WenSpecialists@DrLeanaWen
Florida Allison TantPolitician@AllisonTantFL
Florida Ben
Florida Benita HauskinsProvocateurs
Florida Benjamin BlueNewcomer@tbluegator
Florida Brian,
Florida Carley FitzgeraldPros@CarleyAnneGISP
Florida Catherine Deborah Davidson-HiersPress@DavidsonHiers
Florida Dr. David KuhnSpecialists@DavidKuhnMD
Florida Jason SalemiSpecialists@jasonSalemi
Florida Jessica SteierPros@unbiasedscipod 
Florida Katherine Quirk and Russ SchwartzNewcomers@Russ_Schwartz
Florida Laura HoffmanNewcomers@LauraPriscilla6
Florida Michael EngPress@MikeTheObserver
Florida Natalie DeanSpecialists@nataliexdean
Florida Sara GreenNewcomer
Florida Taylor KennedyProvocateurs@MaskCatchers
GeorgiaAmber SchmidtkeSpecialists@AmberSchmidtk
GeorgiaDavid BlakeSpecialists@_stah
GeorgiaDr. Theresa ChappleSpecialists@Theresa_Chapple
GeorgiaLaurel BristowSpecialists
GeorgiaLee BeckerPress@lbbecker
GeorgiaMary LandersPress@MaryLandersSMN
IllinoisBenhamin KaganNewcomers
IndianaEileen WhiteProvocateurs@EpiRNActivist
IndianaGabriel BossletSpecialists@gbosslet
IndianaMicah PollakSpecialists@MicahPollak
IowaSara Anne WillettProvocateurs@AmeThyStarlight
KentuckyAndy BeshearPolitician@andybeshear
KentuckyMark RothsteinSpecialists
LouisianaJeff AsherPros@crimealytics
LouisianaJoey SimmonsNewcomers@wizardmama1
LouisianaLee LemondNewcomers@LeeJLemond
MaineRosemary MosherSpecialists
MarylandDave TroyPros@davetroy
MarylandEnsheng DongNewcomers
MarylandLauren GardnerSpecialists@TexasDownUnder
Maryland Beth
MassachusettesCharlie BackerPolitician
MassachusettesDr. Eleanor MurraySpecialists@EpiEllie
MichiganDebbie DingellPolitician@RepDebDingell
MichiganGretchen WhitmerPolitician@GovWhitmer
MinnesotaAaron CollinsPros@masknerd
MinnesotaDavid MontgomeryPress@DHMontgomery
MinnesotaMichael OsterholmSpecialists
MissouriChris PrenerSpecialists@ChrisPrener
MissouriDr. Alex GarzaSpecialists
MissouriMatthew HollowayPros@_mattyflex
MissouriSteve EdwardsPros@SDECoxHealth
NebraskaDr. Ali KhanSpecialists@DrAliSkhan
NebraskaFerial PearsonProvocateurs
NevadaMegan MesserlyPress@MeganMesserly
New JerseyGavin RozziProvocateurs@gavroz
New JerseyJen JenningsSpecialists@eduwonkette_jen
New YorkCarl ZimmerPress@carlzimmer
New YorkChris CuomoPress
New YorkDiana BerrentProvocateurs@dianaberrent, @Survivor_Corps
New YorkRyan McMahonPolitician@CHM_McMahon
New YorkYouyang GuPros@youyanggu
North CarolinaMandy CohenSpecialists@SecMandyCohen
North CarolinaPaul
North CarolinaRachel WoodulNewcomerrs@RachelWoodul
OhioAmy ActionSpecialists
OhioAndy ChowPress@andy_chow
OhioJo InglesPress@joingles
OhioKaren KaslerPress@KarenKasler
OklahomaDillon RichardsPress@KOCODillon
OklahomaKassie McClungPress@KassieMcClung
OklahomaKim FletcherSpecialists
OklahomaLourdes PlanasSpecialists
OklahomaPaul MoniesPros@pmonies
PennsylvaniaAlanna BortlinProvocateurs@AlannaBortolin
PennsylvaniaDr. Andrea LovePros@doctor_love87
PennsylvaniaDr. Rachel LevineSpecialists
Puerto RicoRafael A. IrizarrySpecialists@rafalab
South CarolinaDr. Harley T. DavisSpecialists
South CarolinaPhilip NelsonNewcomers@blu3r4d0n
TexasChristine Crudo BlackburnSpecialists
TexasClay JenkinsPolitician@JudgeClayJ
TexasDr. Emily SmithSpecialists@ersmith2016
TexasJosh and Amanda SmithVolunteers@wookielovemachn
TexasKatelyn JetelinaSpecialists@dr_kkjetelina
TexasLauren MeyersSpecialists@meyerslab
TexasPeter HotezSpecialists@PeterHotez
UtahAlex Mumme??None
VermontBenjy RentonNewcomers@bhrenton
WashingtonAvi SchiffmannNewcomers@AviSchiffmann
WashingtonDr. Bob LutzProvocateurs
WashingtonVin GuptaSpecialists@VinGuptaMD
YumaDr. Cleavon GilmanProvocateurs@Cleavon_MD
British ColombiaJustin McElroyPress@J_Mcelroy
OntarioDr. Jennifer KwanSpecialists@jkwan_md
OntarioJean-Paul SoucySpecialists@JPSoucy
OntarioRyan ImgrundPros@imgrund
QuebecAaron DerfelPress@Aaron_Derfel
QuebecOlivier DrouinPros@CovidEcoles
QuebecSimon CoulombeProvocateurs@coulsim
EnglandJohn Burn-MurdochPress@jburnmurdoch