Long-time AAAS Science Diplomat Honored by the President of Poland

Norman Neureiter (right) receives one of the highest Polish State decorations from the president of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski.
[Courtesy of the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland]


Norman P. Neureiter, a senior advisor to the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy and director of the Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy on 6 June received an award from the President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski.

The award, known as the Officers Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (Polish Merit, one of the highest Polish State decorations), recognized Neureiter's "outstanding contributions to Polish-American scientific collaboration." Neureiter, a former science advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, also served as the first science attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw from 1967-69, during some of the darkest days of the Cold War.

"Dr. Neureiter contributed significantly to the success of the Fulbright Exchange program," according to the Washington, D.C.-based Embassy of the Republic of Poland. "He also supported the Polish academic community during its anti-communist protests in March 1968. Upon returning to the United States, Dr. Neureiter served as a U.S. Commissioner of the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Joint Fund II, which supported Polish-American research collaboration."

Earlier this year, Neureiter helped to initiate a new awards program, to be jointly administered by AAAS and the Foundation for Polish Science, recognizing scientists who have made major advances through U.S.-Polish scientific cooperation.

Neureiter received the Officers Cross of the Order of Polish Merit during a ceremony at the historic Belvedere Presidential Palace in Warsaw, where President Komorowski resides. In attendance were officials from the Foreign Ministry; U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull; Professor Michal Kleiber, President of the Polish Academy of Sciences; Andrzej Jajszczyk, Director of the National Science Center of Poland; and Professor Wlodzimierz Bolecki, Vice President of the Foundation for Polish Science.

In his remarks, Neureiter stressed the value of science diplomacy in building and strengthening ties between nations, even in the face of severe strains in official relationships.

Asked how he felt about returning to Poland after so many years, Neureiter said that he and his wife Georgine "were amazed at the huge changes everywhere in Warsaw, from the airport, to the buildings, the buses, the streets, and especially the historical monuments." He said also that he was again impressed by "the warm hospitality of the Polish people."

A research chemist in private industry during his early career, Neureiter entered the U.S. Foreign Service in the 1965 and after serving for two years at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, Germany, he became the first U.S. science attaché in Eastern Europe. Later, he served in President Richard Nixon's Office of Science and Technology, where he helped to develop the scientific elements of historic agreements with the Soviet Union and China. He then spent more than 20 years with Texas Instruments, and in 2000, he was named science advisor to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He remained in that post under Albright's successor, Colin Powell, and he joined AAAS in 2004.

Since that time, Neureiter has been a part of AAAS science-diplomacy delegations to Iran, Cuba, Syria, Myanmar, North Korea, and other countries. In 2008, Neureiter received the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal in recognition of his efforts as a science advisor and champion for international research cooperation. He also received Japan's Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star decoration in 2010, one of the highest honors awarded by the Japanese government, for his efforts to advance U.S.-Japan relations and joint scientific efforts. Last year, Neureiter was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art 1st Class for his efforts to support the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, a Vienna-based international organization that addresses global challenges, and to further scientific relations between the United States and Austria.