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News from the National Academies
Date: Jan. 16, 2004
Contacts: Maureen O'Leary, Director, Broadcast and Special Projects
Heather McDonald, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail <news@nas.edu>

Academy Honors 16 for Major Contributions to Science

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has selected 16 individuals to receive awards honoring their outstanding scientific achievements. The awards will be presented on April 19 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., during the Academy's 141st annual meeting. Awards and recipients are:

Alexander Agassiz Medal – a medal and a prize of $15,000, awarded every three years for original contributions in the science of oceanography goes to Klaus Wyrtki, professor emeritus, department of oceanography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Wyrtki was chosen "for fundamental contributions to the understanding of the oceanic general circulation of abyssal and thermocline waters and for providing the intellectual underpinning for our understanding of ENSO (El Niño)." The award was established by a gift from Sir John Murray and has been presented since 1913.

John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science a medal and a prize of $25,000, awarded annually for noteworthy and distinguished accomplishment in science (social/political science in 2004) – goes to Elinor Ostrom, Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, department of political science, Indiana University, Bloomington. Ostrom was chosen "for her exceptional contributions to the study of social institutions, research that has greatly advanced our understanding of resource management, and the governance of local public economies." The award was established by the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. in honor of John J. Carty and has been awarded since 1932.

Comstock Prize in Physics a prize of $20,000 awarded approximately every five years to a resident of North America for recent innovative discovery or investigation in electricity, magnetism, or radiant energy, broadly interpreted – goes to John N. Bahcall, Richard Black Professor of Natural Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J. Bahcall was chosen "for his many contributions to astrophysics, especially his definitive work on solar models and his crucial role in identifying and resolving the solar neutrino problem." The prize was established through the Cyrus B. Comstock Fund and has been presented since 1913.

Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal a medal and a prize of $15,000 awarded every four years in recognition of a meritorious, recently published work in zoology or paleontology goes to Rudolf A. Raff, distinguished professor of biology, department of biology, and director, Indiana Molecular Biology Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington. Raff was chosen "for creative accomplishments in research, teaching, and writing (especially The Shape of Life) that led to the establishment of a new field, evolutionary developmental biology." The medal was established by a gift of Margaret Henderson Elliot and has been presented since 1917.

Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics – a prize of $20,000 awarded every three years for excellence in biophysics – goes to Carlos J. Bustamante, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor, department of physics, University of California, Berkeley. Bustamante was chosen "for his ingenious use of atomic force microscopy and laser tweezers to study the biophysical properties of proteins, DNA, and RNA, one molecule at a time." The award was established by a bequest from Henrietta W. Hollaender in honor of her husband and was first presented in 1998.

Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal – a medal and prize of $25,000 awarded every three years for important contributions to the medical sciences goes to Irving L. Weissman, professor, departments of pathology and developmental biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif. Weissman was chosen "for his seminal studies that defined the physical properties, purification, and growth regulation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cells." The award was established by a gift from Michael S. Kovalenko in memory of his wife and presented since 1952.

NAS Award in Chemical Sciences – a medal and prize of $15,000 awarded annually for innovative research in the chemical sciences that, in the broadest sense, contributes to a better understanding of the natural sciences and to the benefit of humanity goes to Robert G. Parr, Wassily Hoeffding Professor of Chemical Physics, department of chemistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Parr was chosen "for being a pioneer, leader, and central figure in the development of density functional theory in chemistry and for his deep insights into quantum chemical calculations." The prize, supported by The Merck Company Foundation, has been presented since 1979.

NAS Award for Initiatives in Research a prize of $15,000 awarded annually in a field supporting information technology (condensed matter/materials science in 2004) to recognize innovative young scientists and to encourage research likely to lead toward new capabilities for human benefit – goes to Yoel Fink, Thomas B. King Assistant Professor of Materials Science, department of materials science and engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. Fink was chosen "for his pioneering contributions and ingenuity in the creative design and development of photonic materials and devices." The award, presented since 1981, was established by AT&T Bell Laboratories in honor of William O. Baker.

NAS Award in Mathematics – a prize of $5,000 awarded every four years for excellence in published mathematical research – goes to Dan-Virgil Voiculescu, professor, department of mathematics, University of California, Berkeley. Voiculescu was chosen "for the theory of free probability, in particular, using random matrices and a new concept of entropy to solve several hitherto intractable problems in von Neumann algebras." The award was established by the American Mathematical Society in commemoration of its centennial and has been presented since 1988.

NAS Award in Molecular Biology – a medal and a prize of $25,000 awarded annually for a recent notable discovery in molecular biology by a young scientist – goes to Xiaodong Wang, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair, and professor, department of biochemistry, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He was chosen "for his biochemical studies of apoptosis which have resolved a molecular pathway leading in and out of the mitochondrion." The award is supported by Pfizer Inc and has been presented since 1962.

NAS Award in the Neurosciences – a prize of $25,000 awarded every three years for extraordinary contributions to progress in the fields of neuroscience – goes to Brenda Milner, Dorothy J. Killam Professor, Montreal Neurological Institute, and professor, department of neurology and neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal. Milner was chosen "for her pioneering and seminal investigations of the functioning of the temporal lobes and other brain regions in learning, memory, and speech." The award was established by a gift from the Fidia Research Foundation and has been presented since 1988.

NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing – a prize of $10,000 awarded annually for excellence in scientific reviewing within the past 10 years (the 2004 field is chemical physics) – goes to Donald G. Truhlar, Institute of Technology Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Chemical Physics, and Scientific Computation, Lloyd H. Reyerson Professor of Chemistry, and director, Supercomputing Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Truhlar was chosen "for his incisive reviews on transition-state theory, potential energy surfaces, quantum scattering theory, and solvation models, which have informed and enlightened the chemical physics community for a generation." The award was established by Annual Reviews, the Institute for Scientific Information, and The Scientist in honor of J. Murray Luck and has been presented since 1979.

Troland Research Awards – a sum of $50,000 given annually to each of two recipients to support their research within the broad spectrum of experimental psychology – go to Robert L. Goldstone, professor, department of psychology, Indiana University, Bloomington, and to Wendy A. Suzuki, associate professor, Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York City. Goldstone was chosen "for novel experimental analyses and elegant modeling that show how perceptual learning dynamically adjusts dimensions and boundaries of categories and concepts in human thought." Suzuki was chosen "for her fundamental work on the neuroanatomy, physiology, and function of brain structures important for memory." The awards were established by a bequest from Leonard T. Troland and have been presented since 1984.

James Craig Watson Medal – a medal and a prize of $25,000 plus $25,000 to support the recipient's research awarded every three years in recognition of contributions to the science of astronomy goes to Vera C. Rubin, senior fellow, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C. Rubin was chosen "for her seminal observations of dark matter in galaxies, large-scale relative motions of galaxies, and for generous mentoring of young astronomers, men and women." The award was established by a bequest from James C. Watson and has been presented since 1887.

Also to be honored at the April 19 ceremony is Maurice F. Strong, undersecretary general and special adviser to the secretary-general, United Nations, New York City, and chairman, Earth Council, Toronto, who was chosen to receive the Academy's Public Welfare Medal. The Academy selected Strong "in recognition of inspired moral leadership in the 1972 and 1992 United Nations' environmental conferences and for tireless efforts to link science, technology, and society for our common benefit." The medal was established to recognize distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare and has been presented since 1914.

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