Another amazing Philly Geek Awards season has concluded. We’ve once again honored the city’s best and brightest for the sixth year in a row and it wouldn’t have been possible without people such as yourselves. If it weren’t for our nominees, we’d have no one to honor. Regardless of who takes home a beautiful award, all of the nominees embody what this city has to offer and meets our values through and through. Special thanks to sponsors Wildbit (Can’t wait to use their umbrella on a rainy day!), StartupPHL (Sponsors of Startup of the Year), NextFab (creators of our lovely awards) and YIKES Inc. (for creating and managing our website this year and last year). Most of all, thank you city of Philadelphia for being a wonderful place to live, work and create. Stay tuned for photos and video of this year’s awards.
In the meantime…
Here are your winners for 2016. For information on all nominees past and present, visit www.phillygeekawards.com
Multimedia Project of the Year: Media in Neighborhoods Group
Following the success of their celebrated U.S. Department of Justice-funded 2014 documentary Pull of Gravity, which followed three Philadelphia men returning home after incarceration, “Media in Neighborhoods Group (MING)” has launched a series of initiatives this year in its effort to use documentary film and other media for social change. With Knight Foundation funding, MING, founded by El Sawyer and Jon Kauffman, has grown its video production apprenticeship program for returning citizens. Additionally in May 2016, Sawyer won a prestigious two-year $100,000 grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to develop a program to train police, prisons and parole officers how to better reintegrate former inmates into society.
Comic Creator of the Year: Maki Naro
Maki is a comic creator and science communicator through comics. His work breaks down topics such as the Zika virus, recently featured on fusion.net, and vaccines, featured on thenib.com. He also writes/draws regularly for Popsci.com, highlighting current topics as well as a popular ongoing webcomic called “Sufficiently Remarkable.”
Maker of the Year: South Fellini
Originally billed as a film and graphic novel production studio, South Fellini nabbed a win for “Outstanding Achievement in Local Comic Art” in the 2011 inaugural Philly Geek Awards and a nomination for “Feature Length Indie Film of the Year” the following year in 2012 for Alpha Girls. Proving their mastery of many mediums, they’ve recently expanded their skills into the production of artwork in the form of t-shirts, embroidered patches and enamel pins. Right now, they’re working on opening the doors to a brick and mortar store on East Passyunk to sell their locally-crafted works.
Scientist of the Year: Stephan Grupp
Stephan Grupp treated Emily Whitehead, for whom the Emily Whitehead Foundation is named. Enrolled in an experimental T-Cell Therapy clinical trial at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), she became the first child in the world to have her immune system trained to fight cancer. With the help of Grupp and others, not only did Emily survive, in just a few weeks she was declared cancer free — she’s now 11 and healthy.
Feature Length Indie Film of the Year: Ghostheads
Ghostheads is a documentary that explores the extreme side of the Ghostbusters fandom. It tells the tale of culture and looks back at the impact the franchise has had on the world over the past three decades. Tommy Avallone, 2014 winner of “Feature Length Indie Film of the Year” interviews key cast and crew, including Dan Aykroyd, Ivan Reitman, Ernie Hudson and many more, as well as with Ghostbusters fans all over the world. Ghostheads presents countless humanizing stories that will connect with audiences about comradery and overcoming obstacles.
Movement of the Year: #1000BlackGirlBooks
Frustrated by the lack of books about black girls in her school curriculum, 11-year-old Marley Dias launched the #1000BlackGirlBookscampaign in 2015 to collect 1000 books where black girls are the main characters. Books will be donated to Retreat Primary and Junior School and Library in the parish of St. Mary, Jamaica where her mother and GrassROOTS’ President, Dr. Johnson Dias, was raised as a child. Over 4000 books have been collected so far.
Mission Leader of the Year: Chris Lehmann
Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy , a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, project-based, 1:1 laptop school that is considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement nationally and internationally. The school was recognized by Ladies Home Journal as one of the Ten Most Amazing Schools in the US, has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School from 2009 through 2013 and has been written about in many publications. This year, Lehmann oversaw the expansion of the new SLA Middle School in West Philadelphia. He’s Assistant Superintendent of the Innovation Network for the School District and co-chair of EduCon.
Impact Org of the Year: Community Futures Lab
Launched in June by public advocacy attorney Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa, the Community Futures Lab is a resource library, community studio and gallery, workshop space, story recording booth, thinktank, experimental space and more. Over the next year, Black Quantum Futurism, the space’s organizing group, will be building and enacting a quantum time capsule, exploring oral histories/futures, preservation, displacement, and alternative temporalities within the North Philadelphia community known as Sharswood/Blumberg, a multidisciplinary community activist art project.
Partnership of the Year: Ice Cream in Space
Little Baby’s Ice Cream partnered on a science experiment with students at the Workshop School, a project-based public school in West Philadelphia, during the summer of 2015. Then the project got better. “Ice Cream in Space” depicts important scientific concepts such as experiential learning, innovative sustainable frozen food packaging, existential co(s)mic queries, and a cappella rap music, culminating in a absurdist-docu-comedy, directed by Jesse Engaard.
Startup of the Year: BioBots
A DreamIt Health company, BioBots makes 3D printers for living cells. Founded by a trio of Penn students, the BioBot 1 is a desktop printer that uses cells to build living tissue and organs and enables users to easily print high resolution biological structures. Biobots sells bioprinters and consumables, such as bioinks for tissue printing, to labs all over the world. After winning ‘Most Innovative’ at the 2015 SXSW and raising $1.25 million in venture capital last fall, BioBots is one of the city’s most hyped sciences startups.
Technologist of the Year: Yasmine Mustafa
A tech entrepreneur and community leader driven by the desire to leverage technology for social good, Yasmine is the CEO of Roar for Good, a self-defense wearable technology company aimed at protecting women and addressing the underlying causes of violence. Yasmine also started the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It, a nonprofit focused on providing affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn software and web development and is a board member for Coded by Kids, a nonprofit that helps underserved youth learn how to code.
Dev Project of the Year: Food Connect
Founded by Megha Kulshreshtha Food Connect links homeless shelters to restaurants looking to donate their leftover food. The app allows donors to give surplus food to local shelters and community organizations. Recently used by the Democratic National Convention, Food Connect has worked in partnership with most of the major anti-hunger organizations in Philadelphia, including Philabundance, the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council and SHARE Food Program.
Game of the Year: Tailwind: Prologue
Tailwind: Prologue puts you at the controls of a spaceship rocketing through the atmosphere. Inspiration from the art for popular titles such as No Man’s Sky, Mirror Moon, and Firewatch helped bring Cipher Prime’s classic style to a new, lived-in world. A prologue to the upcoming game Tailwind, this gorgeous game was fueled with a passion for blowing up worlds with the wake of a tiny spaceship by the duo Dain Saint and William Stallwood who return to the Philly Geek Awards after an appearance as the 2011 inaugural ceremony for their “Outstanding Achievement to the Philadelphia Indie Game Scene.”
Geek of the Year: Kathryn Killebrew
Kathryn is a software developer on the Geospatial Insights team at Azavea and volunteer at Girl Develop It and Code for Philly. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. Kathryn has been developing software, building websites, and designing databases for over six years. Anyone who has ever explored sustainable transportation options in and around Philadelphia has likely been assisted by one of her software applications like CyclePhilly and Transit Analyst, which took her to the White House earlier in 2016.
(Photo credit: Tracy Levesque)