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Hundreds of people packed the String Theory School’s Vine Street campus in Center tonight for the Philly Geek Awards, but only 14 went home with coveted trophies.
The annual event shines a spotlight on the city’s creatives — everyone from gamers to scientists, makers and mission leaders.
The complete list of 2017 winners is below, and you can read up on all the nominees here.
Comic Creator of the Year
As an writer and illustrator, Larsen has worked with clients such as Dark Horse, DC Online, and Cartoon Network, in addition to publishing her own comics on The Larsen Project. Last October, her work appeared in the final issue of the Regular Show comic series, to favorable reviews. Her contributions to a forthcoming Adventure Time shorts collection will be released in November from KaBOOM!
Multimedia Project of the Year
Curiosity 180 – Let’s Talk About It!
In 180 seconds or fewer, these fun animated shorts help curious viewers explore questions like “how big is the universe” or “how does the internet work.” Created and narrated by game developers from Jumpbutton Studios, the series has already been viewed more than 66,000 times on YouTube.
Dev Product of the Year
After a traumatic brain injury affected his short term memory, Tom Dixon collaborated with Jumpbutton Studios to develop this solution for those living with memory loss. On a secure mobile app, users can log detailed reminders, store specific memories, or even tag photos with names for easy recognition.
Maker of the Year
Peter English and Jeff Gregorio
What happened when an artist (English) and an engineer (Gregorio) came together to explore music and technology? Drumhenge, a new musical instrument composed of 16 drums that are played by electromagnetic vibrations. The exhibit, on display at Drexel’s ExCITe Center, is part rock show, part art installation, park interactive tech demonstration.
Feature Length Indie Film of the Year
Director Ted Fendt’s taut 61-minute feature debut follows Mike, a listless Haddonfield, New Jersey pizza delivery guy who finds himself subletting a friend’s apartment in Philadelphia for a short while. Described as a throwback to “early mumblecore” by the New York Times, the film made its debut in December 2016 at the Berlin Film Festival to positive reviews.
Partnership of the Year
Clarifi and the Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services for Ex-Offenders (RISE)
In an effort to expand its reintegration services, RISE, a city-run support agency for previously incarcerated individuals, partnered with Clarifi, a financial wellness nonprofit. Through workshops and individual counseling, the partnership sought to provide financial literacy education and coaching to help individuals reentering society work toward financial stability and lessen their likelihood of recidivism.
Technologist of the Year
Dr. Basil Harris
Harris, an ER doctor from the Philly suburbs, turned his appreciation for Star Trek technology into a real revolutionary healthcare device—and a $2.6 million prize. As part of the global Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize competition, Harris and a team of friends and family developed a tricorder-like diagnostic device; powered by an AI engine, the gadget can recognize up to 34 health conditions.
Scientist of the Year
Dr. Alan W. Flake
In March, researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia released a groundbreaking report on efforts to create an artificial womb to potentially improve survival odds for extremely premature infants. Led by Dr. Flake, an attending pediatric and fetal surgeon at CHOP, the researchers created a fluid-filled “Biobag” to extend the gestational period; in a study, the device kept fetal lambs alive for up to four weeks.
Game of the Year
From designers Anthony Amato and Nicole Kline of Cardboard Fortress Games, this Kickstarter-funded tabletop game takes players on a high-speed race through the galaxy. Ripe with 80s nostalgia, Lazer Ryderz! ships in box shaped like VHS tapes and has its own synth-driven soundtrack for more immersive play.
Startup of the Year
Nurses in neonatal intensive care units are tasked with tracking and managing pumped breast milk meant for premature babies—a critical job. Founded by Penn grad Vidur Bhatnagar and developed through DreamIt Health’s 2016 accelerator cohort, Keriton uses a suite of HIPAA-compliant apps to help automate in-hospital breast milk management, reducing human error and improving communication between hospitals and parents.
Mission Leader of the Year
Hauger, an engineer and a current math and science teacher, started the after school Hybrid X Team in West Philadelphia High school a little over a decade ago. He challenges the students in math, science and engineering by mentoring them to creating hybrid vehicles. They have won multiple national competitions, and have even outperformed universities and corporations.
Impact Organization of the Year
Black and Brown Workers Collective
Standing at the intersection of the Worker’s Right’s movement and the Black Lives Matter movement, the Black and Brown Workers Collective are combating injustices happening every day in the community—deliberate wage disparity, racial bias, sexual abuse and harassment, and more. The 200+ strong group strive to challenge and dismantle systems of oppression through collective community action.
Movement of the Year
Battling Racism in the Gayborhood
After a video of a bar owner using racial slurs surfaced in September of 2016, Philly’s LGBTQ community leaped into action to address discrimination from within. Responding to public outcry following the video, City Council passed an anti-discrimination bill to strengthen penalties against businesses that discriminate against their employees, tenants, or customers. In June, the city revealed a new Pride flag design with black and brown stripes as a symbolic step towards inclusion.
Geek of the Year
Marion Leary is a University of Pennsylvania professor, researcher, writer, and an advocate for science, technology, education, arts, and math education—otherwise known as STEAM. This April, she helped lead Philadelphia’s March for Science, which drew thousands to rally around the shared mission to support scientists and enable the use of science to improve society. Marion Leary is a Billy Penn Who’s Next: Givers honoree