The American Association for the Advancement of Science awarded bestselling children’s author Deborah Lee Rose ’77 a prize for her book that tells the story of an injured bald eagle that gained a 3D-printed beak.
Rose’s book, Beauty and the Beak, won the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books. Rose worked with raptor biologist Jane Veltkamp, to write this story about Beauty, a bald eagle who was illegally shot and lost her top beak before Veltkamp and her team created a 3D-printed prosthetic beak to save her.
Learning what Veltkamp and her team had done to reconstruct the bird’s beak, Rose felt inspired to write her book, she told The Sun.
“I was very inspired by Jane’s work and how she pulled together a team to accomplish something that had not been tried,” Rose said.
She said the most challenging aspects of writing her book were her lack of knowledge regarding bald eagles and the distance between her and Veltkamp, as she lives in California while Veltkamp lives in Idaho.
“I knew nothing about eagles when I started, but that never stops me because I am ready to learn whatever I need to learn to write a book,” Rose said. “I’ve been a science writer for a very long time, covering all types of topics, so I am not afraid to take on new topics if they grab me. It’s endless learning.”
Rose said she and Veltkamp were constantly communicating while writing the book, even while Veltkamp was “busy rescuing raptors all the time.”
When asked what made Beauty and the Beak special in comparison to the 14 other books she has authored, Rose cited her collaboration with Veltkamp and with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which, as an alumna, seemed “like an amazing full circle.”
The award, which is given by one of the largest scientific organizations in the world, “acknowledges the science of the book as well as the story,” she said.
Rose was influenced by the science classes she took at Cornell and her time on The Sun, where she said she wrote news articles and features.
“I recognized I could love the topic and understand it and communicate about it even if I weren’t a scientist,” Rose said. “I got to share my newfound knowledge with a very broad audience.”
The award is meant to “emphasize the importance of good science books and encourage children and young adults to turn to science books, not only for information, but for enjoyment too,” according to the AAAS’ website.
Rose wanted to impart the importance of bald eagle protection and conservation to her readers through her work on the book.
“A huge part of the backmatter is about bald eagle conservation, and most children don’t know that bald eagles almost went extinct,” Rose said. “This book educates kids about the bald eagle as a species and the challenges it faces, and there are still challenges it faces.”