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News from the National Academies

Date:  Jan. 20, 2011

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Academy Honors 13 for Major Contributions to Science

 

WASHINGTON — The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will honor 13 individuals with awards recognizing extraordinary scientific achievements in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics, economics and psychology.

 

The recipients for 2011 are:

 

Bonnie L. Bassler, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and Squibb Professor in the department of molecular biology at Princeton University, is the recipient of the Richard Lounsbery Award. Bassler is being honored for her pioneering discoveries of the universal use of chemical communication among bacteria and the elucidation of structural and regulatory mechanisms controlling bacterial assemblies. This $50,000 prize recognizes extraordinary scientific achievement by French and American scientists in biology and medicine.

 

Stephen J. Benkovic, Evan Pugh Professor and Eberly Chair in Chemistry at Pennsylvania State University, is the recipient of the NAS Award in Chemical Sciences. Benkovic is being honored for groundbreaking contributions to understanding catalysis and complex biological machines: the purinosome and DNA polymerases — demonstrations of the power of chemistry to solve biological problems. Supported by the Merck Company Foundation, the award and $15,000 prize honors innovative research in the chemical sciences that contributes to a better understanding of the natural sciences and to the benefit of humanity.

 

James M. Berger, Walter and Ruth Schubert Family Chair in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, is the recipient of the NAS Award in Molecular Biology. Berger is being honored for elucidating the structures of topoisomerases and helicases and providing insights into the biochemical mechanisms that mediate the replication and transcription of DNA. Sponsored by Pfizer Inc., the award consists of a $25,000 prize to recognize a recent notable discovery in molecular biology by a young scientist.

 

Elizabeth A. Buffalo, assistant professor of neurology at Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University School of Medicine, and Joshua B. Tenenbaum,  associate professor of cognitive science and computation in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are the recipients of the Troland Research Awards. Buffalo is being honored for innovative, multidisciplinary study of the hippocampus and the neural basis of memory. Tenenbaum is being recognized for formulating a groundbreaking new Bayesian model of human inductive learning and for using this model to generate innovative empirical studies of human perception, language, and reasoning. Two Troland Research Awards of $50,000 are given annually to recognize unusual achievement by young investigators and to further empirical research within the broad spectrum of experimental psychology.

 

R. Lawrence Edwards, George and Orpha Gibson Chair of Earth Systems Science and Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the department of geology and geophysics at the University of Minnesota, is the recipient of the Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship. Edwards is being honored for innovative use of U-Th and stable isotope systems to discover and quantify abrupt 30-500 ka temperature excursions and their timings attending Milankovitch cycle-induced global climate changes. This $20,000 prize and lectureship recognizes an individual making lasting contributions to the study of the physics of the Earth.

 

Carol A. Gross, professor in the departments of microbiology and immunology and of cell and tissue biology at University of California, San Francisco, is the recipient of the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology. Gross is being honored for her pioneering studies on mechanisms of gene transcription and its control, and for defining the roles of sigma factors during homeostasis and under stress. The award recognizes excellence in the field of microbiology and comes with a $5,000 prize.

 

John W. Harvey, astronomer at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Ariz., is the recipient of the Arctowski Medal. Harvey is being honored for major contributions to understanding the sun’s magnetic fields and its interior structure, and for developing the instrumentation that has made these discoveries possible. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the study of solar physics and solar-terrestrial relationships and consists of a $20,000 prize, as well as $60,000 to an institution of the recipient’s choice.

 

Paul J. Reider, vice president (retired) of chemistry research and discovery at Amgen Inc., is the recipient of the NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society. Reider is being honored for his contributions to the discovery and development of numerous approved drugs, including those for treating asthma and for treating AIDS. The award, established by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., recognizes contributions to chemistry, either in fundamental science or its application, that clearly satisfy a societal need. The award comes with a $20,000 prize and is presented in alternate years to chemists working in industry and to those in academia, government, and nonprofit organizations.

 

Thomas J. Sargent, professor in the department of economics at New York University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, is the recipient of the NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing. Sargent is being honored for his pathbreaking books that integrate dynamic macroeconomic models under uncertainty with time series econometric methods, which have informed and enlightened a generation of economic researchers. The prize of $10,000 — presented in this year in the field of economics — recognizes excellence in scientific reviewing. The award is supported by Annual Reviews, Thomson Reuters, and The Scientist in honor of J. Murray Luck.

 

H. Boyd Woodruff, president of Soil Microbiology Associates Inc., is the recipient of the NAS Award for the Industrial Application of Science. Woodruff is being honored for leading the development of multiple antibiotics, vitamin B12, and the avermectins, the latter revolutionizing parasite treatment in livestock and humans. The award, established by IBM in honor of Ralph E. Gomory, recognizes applications in industry of significant achievements in science and is presented in this year in the field of agricultural science. The recipient receives a prize of $25,000.

 

Martin T. Zanni, Meloche-Bascom Professor in the department of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is the recipient of the NAS Award for Initiatives in Research. Zanni is being honored for revolutionary advances in multidimensional spectroscopies, which are enabling discoveries in biological, medical and condensed matter chemical systems. Supported by Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, the award -- given this year in optical sciences -- recognizes innovative young scientists and encourages research likely to lead toward new capabilities for human benefit. It comes with a $15,000 prize.

 

The recipients will be honored in a ceremony on Sunday, May 1, during the National Academy of Sciences’ 148th annual meeting. Also to be honored is Ismail Serageldin, founding director of the New Library of Alexandria in Egypt, the recipient of the 2011 NAS Public Welfare Medal. The medal was established to recognize distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare and has been presented since 1914.

 

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare.  Since 1863, the National Academy of Sciences has served to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.

 

Contacts:                                                                 

Maureen O'Leary, Director of Public Information

Christopher White, Media Assistant

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail <news@nas.edu>