James A. Conrad

Three Scientists Who Were Awarded an Oscar Statuette

The Scientific and Technical Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, based in Beverly Hills, California in the United States, bestows awards every year to deserving individuals, companies, or organizations who have advanced the science and technology involved in the creation and exhibition of movies and documentaries.

The awards, which are decided by committee and do not pertain to any particular film, take the form of a certificate, plaque, medallion, or the familiar gold-plated Oscar statuette. The statuette is bestowed as one of the following: Award of Merit, Honorary Award, or Gordon E. Sawyer Award.

Most individuals who win a Sci-Tech Academy Award have an engineering degree, are self-taught inventors, or have other on-the-job experience. When a company receives an award, it will cover collectively all the employees, unnamed, some of whom may be scientists.

In researching this list using the official Academy Awards search database as a starting point, I could identify only three individuals having a science degree who were the named recipients of the top prize — the Oscar statuette — in the entire history of the Academy. Scientists may have won in the other non-statuette categories, but this list is about Oscar statuette recipients. Additions and updates are welcome.

John G. Frayne / John Frayne . . . (1894 – 1990), Irish-born American physicist; Ph.D. in physics from the University of Minnesota; sound engineer.
  • 1952: Certificate.
  • 1979: Medallion.
  • 1983: Gordon E. Sawyer Award (statuette).
  • Bio
Peter D. Parks / Peter Parks . . . (19?? – ), British-born zoologist; zoology degree from Oxford University; cinematographer; visual effects engineer.
Ed Catmull . . . (1945 – ), American-born computer scientist and physicist; Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in computer science and physics; Ph.D in computer science from the University of Utah; animation studio executive.

This list was researched and complied by author James A. Conrad and first published on this web page. If you see it copied elsewhere, this is likely the source from where it originated, if no credit is given.
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