On Nov. 16, President Obama announced the 21 recipients of the annual Presidential Medal of Freedom award, a list that included AAAS Fellow and polymath physicist, Richard Garwin. A trusted advisor to numerous administrations, Garwin helped pioneer U.S. defense and intelligence technologies, low-temperature and nuclear physics, detection of gravitational radiation, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer systems, laser printing, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation's highest civilian honor - it's a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” President Obama said in a statement. “From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way."
Former recipients of the award include Martin Luther King Jr. (1977), Stephen Hawking (2009) and Maya Angelo (2010), among others.
President Bush also recognized Garwin’s work by awarding him the National Medal of Science in 2002. He received the medal for "his research and discoveries in physics and related fields, and of his longstanding service to the Nation by providing valuable scientific advice on important questions of national security over a half a century.”
Garwin was elected as a AAAS Fellow in 1966. A recent Science article covering Garwin’s work begins, “The first thing anybody says about the physicist/inventor/adviser Richard Garwin is that his graduate school adviser 60 years ago, Enrico Fermi, said that he was the only true genius he'd met.”