AAAS Board Chair Geraldine Richmond is among the AAAS fellows honored at the White House on 19 May. | White House
Eleven AAAS fellows were among the 17 scientists, engineers, and inventors bestowed the nation’s highest honor for scientific achievement and innovation as recipients of this year’s National Medal of Science or National Medal of Technology and Innovation at a 19 May White House ceremony.
“These scientific laureates exemplify the American spirit and ingenuity that have enriched our society and the global community in profound and lasting ways,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “Their ambition and accomplishments are an inspiration to the next generation pursuing careers in the essential fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.”
The annual awards are considered the most prestigious honor that can be earned by the nation’s top scientists and inventors. The National Medal of Science has recognized outstanding contributions to science and engineering since 1962. The National Science Foundation administers the program for the White House.
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created in 1980 to credit “those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness, quality of life, and helped strengthen the nation’s technological workforce,” a White House statement said. The Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office administers the innovation award program.
The president receives nominations for the National Medal of Science from a panel of leading scientists selected for their expertise and contributions to the field. An independent committee of distinguished individuals from both the public and private sectors present recommendations to the president for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
Of the 17 individuals honored, the AAAS fellows are:
Armand Paul Alivisatos of the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab was awarded the National Medal of Science for his contributions to the field of nanoscience, particularly the development of nanocrystals, a building block of nanotechnologies.
Michael Artin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was awarded the National Medal of Science for his leadership in modern algebraic geometry, citing three bodies of work in: étale cohomology; algebraic approximation of formal solutions of equations; and non-commutative algebraic geometry.
Stanley Falkow of the Stanford University School of Medicine was awarded the National Medal of Science for his contributions to the understanding of how microbes cause disease and fend off antibiotics as well as his role in creating the field of molecular microbial pathogenesis.
Shirley Ann Jackson of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was awarded the National Medal of Science for her work in condensed matter physics and particle physics as well as her public policy achievements and mentorship in science. Jackson served as AAAS president in 2004-2005 and chair of AAAS’ Board of Directors in 2005-2006.
Rakesh K. Jain of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital was awarded the National Medal of Science for his research leveraging both engineering and oncology and resulting discoveries that led to the development and use of drugs for treating cancer and other diseases.
Mary-Claire King of the University of Washington was awarded the National Medal of Science for her contributions to human genetics. Her work contributed to AAAS efforts to develop genetic methods to match children of “disappeared” victims of human rights abuses with their grandparents, an innovation that has helped reunite more than 100 families in Argentina.
Simon Levin of Princeton University was awarded the National Medal of Science for his leadership in the field of environmental science and contributions to multiple disciplines including ecology, environmental economics and applied mathematics.
Geraldine Richmond of the University of Oregon was awarded the National Medal of Science for “landmark discoveries” of the molecular characteristics of water surfaces. Richmond also was recognized for her efforts to promote women in science. She served as AAAS president February 2015-February 2016 and currently serves as the chair of the AAAS Board of Directors.
Joseph DeSimone of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the North Carolina State University, and Carbon3D was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his work in the field of material science.
Arthur Gossard of the University of California, Santa Barbara was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his creation and application of artificially structured quantum materials used in semiconductor device technology.
Cato T. Laurencin of the University of Connecticut was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his work in the engineering of musculoskeletal tissues and for his work promoting diversity in the sciences.