Anita K. Jones Wins 2012 AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Award

Anita Katherine Jones of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, has been chosen by AAAS to receive the 2012 Philip Hauge Abelson Award. Jones is University Professor Emerita at the University of Virginia. She will receive the award during a 15 February ceremony at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

She was honored by AAAS “for her outstanding scientific-technical achievements; her contributions as a mentor, inspiration, and role model for other scientists and engineers; and her lifetime of exemplary public service to government, professional institutions, academia and industry.”

The Abelson Award was inspired by Philip Hauge Abelson, long-time senior advisor to AAAS and editor of the journal Science. Abelson, who also served as president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, died 1 August 2004, following more than 60 years of service to science and society. The award is given annually to either a public servant, in recognition of sustained exceptional

Anita K. Jones (Courtesy of The University of Virginia Engineering School)

Anita K. Jones
(Courtesy of The University of Virginia Engineering School)

contributions to advancing science, or to a scientist whose career has been distinguished both for scientific achievement and for other notable services to the scientific community. Established in 1985 by the AAAS Board of Directors, the award consists of a commemorative medallion and an honorarium of $5000.

Jones received her Ph.D. degree in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU) in 1973. After ten years as an associate professor at CMU, she co-founded the software firm Tartan Laboratories, where she was vice president until 1987. The following year, she became a full professor and chair of the computer science department at the University of Virginia (UVA). In 1993, she took leave from UVA to be director of defense research and engineering at the Department of Defense, where she had oversight responsibility for science and technology programs, research laboratories, and DARPA. She held this position until 1997, receiving awards for distinguished public service. She then returned to UVA to become University Professor in 1997, assuming the role of Lawrence A. Quarles Professor of Engineering and Applied Science in 1999.

In addition to her outstanding scientific-technical achievements in the rapidly developing field of computer science, Jones has demonstrated stellar performance in a wide range of public service roles, and through her service in senior advisory capacities to academic and business institutions, said Stephen D. Nelson, the AAAS staff officer in charge of administering the award. For example, she has served on the National Science Board, the DOD Defense Science Board, the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and the National Academies’ Policy Division Advisory Council. Her service roles have included work on the influential National Academies report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, as well as a follow-up study that helped raise awareness about the importance of investing in the nation’s innovation infrastructure.

In nominating Jones for the award, Susan L. Graham of the University of California at Berkeley and Edward D. Lazowska of the University of Washington said: “She brings sound judgment, broad knowledge and experience, and strong commitment to every activity she initiates or joins.”

Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation added: “Anita’s success, in my opinion, is founded in part upon her deep technical knowledge…This is backed by her ability to apply that knowledge in a wide variety of fields. She is as comfortable discussing the latest developments in informatics as she is speaking with White House budget officials, and frequently does both. Her constructive, selfless approach to solving problems, coupled with her impeccable integrity, gives her credibility even with those who may disagree with her.”

Robert F. Sproull, retired vice president and director of Oracle Labs, said Jones “has served the nation in manifold ways that apply science and technology to serve the public.” Robert W. Lucky, retired corporate vice president of Telcordia Technologies, said he has “always truly enjoyed working with her” and respects her “intelligence, insight, and dedication to her profession and to our country.”

Her honors, awards, and distinctions have included the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) Arthur M. Bueche Award, the DOD Award for Distinguished Public Service, a Meritorious Civilian Award from the U.S. Air Force, and the IEEE Founders Medal. She is a member of the NAE and a Fellow of AAAS as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association of Computing Machinery, the Defense Science Board, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

In summary, AAAS said, Jones is “respected and listened to as an experienced stateswoman in the field.” Her nominators further described her as “a truly extraordinary leader, technologist, policy developer, and public servant.”

Read more about the AAAS Abelson Award.

Learn more about events at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting, 14-18 February in Boston.