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News from the National Academy of Sciences
Date: Feb. 7, 1997
Contacts: Barbara J. Rice, Deputy Director
Shannon Flannery, Media Relations Assistant
(202) 334-2138; Internet <>


Academy Honors 18 for Major Contributions to Science

WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has selected 18 individuals to receive awards honoring their outstanding contributions to science. The awards will be presented on April 28 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., during the Academy's 134th annual meeting. Awards and recipients are:

The NAS Award for Behavioral Research Relevant to the Prevention of Nuclear War -- a prize of $15,000 to recognize basic research in any field of cognitive or behavioral science that has employed rigorous formal or empirical methods, optimally a combination of these, to advance the understanding of problems or issues relating to the risk of nuclear war -- goes to Alexander L. George, Graham H. Stuart Professor of International Relations, Emeritus, department of political science, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. George was chosen "for combining theory with history to elucidate the requirements of deterrence, the limits to coercive diplomacy, and the relationship between force and statecraft." The award was established by a gift from William K. and Katherine W. Estes.

The John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science -- a bronze medal and a prize of $25,000 for noteworthy and distinguished accomplishments in any field of science within the scope of the Academy's charter (the 1997 field is anthropology) -- goes to Patrick V. Kirch, Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology, department of anthropology, University of California, Berkeley. Kirch was recognized "for the unique breadth of his distinguished anthropological accomplishments, spanning many Pacific islands and joining their archaeology with ethnobotany, ethnobiohistory, historical linguistics, and human biology." The award was established in 1930 by Carty's associates at American Telephone and Telegraph Co.

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences -- a prize of $10,000 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 M. Frederick Hawthorne, professor of chemistry, department of chemistry and biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles. Hawthorne was selected "for his fundamental contributions to boron chemistry, especially his groundbreaking studies of boron hydrides and metallocarboranes and their uses in catalysis and radioimaging." The award was established originally by Occidental Petroleum Corp. and is supported today by gifts from individuals.

The NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society -- a prize of $20,000 for contributions to chemistry, whether in fundamental science or its application, that clearly satisfy a societal need -- goes to Ernest L. Eliel, professor of chemistry emeritus, department of chemistry, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Eliel was chosen "for his seminal and far-reaching contributions in organic stereochemistry and for his wise and energetic leadership in professional societies that represent the interests of chemists and of society, both in the United States and abroad." This award is given alternately to chemists working in industry and to those in academia, government, or non-profit organizations. The award was established by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

The Henry Draper Medal -- a gold-plated bronze medal and a prize of $10,000 to an original investigation in astronomical physics -- goes to Bohdan Paczynski, Lyman Spitzer Jr. Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, department of astrophysical science, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. Paczynski was recognized "for his epochal contributions toward understanding gamma-ray bursts, the evolution of binary stars, and especially the gravitational lensing and microlensing of light from distant objects." The award was established in 1883 by a gift of Mary Anna Palmer Draper.

The Gibbs Brothers Medal -- a vermeil medal and a prize of $5,000 for outstanding contributions in the field of naval architecture and marine engineering -- goes to William B. Morgan, head, hydromechanics directorate, David Taylor Model Basin, Carderock division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Bethesda, Md. Morgan was cited "for his technical leadership in improving performance, quieting, and design of advanced marine propulsion systems, and development of large modern propulsion research and testing facilities." The selection committee for this prize is designated by the National Academy of Engineering. The award was established by a bequest of William Francis Gibbs and his brother, Frederic H. Gibbs.

The NAS Award for Initiatives in Research -- a prize of $15,000, awarded annually in a different field (condensed matter physics in 1997) to recognize innovative young scientists and to encourage research likely to lead toward new capabilities for human benefit -- goes to Matthew P.A. Fisher, permanent member, Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara. Fisher was recognized "for his seminal contributions to the theory of the vortex-glass phase, the superconductor-insulator transition, and the quantum properties of mesoscopic wires and n-leg Hubbard ladders." The award was established by AT&T Bell Laboratories in honor of William O. Baker.

The Richard Lounsbery Award -- a vermeil medal, a prize of $50,000, and a $20,000 travel stipend to recognize extraordinary scientific achievement in biology and medicine -- goes to James E. Rothman, chair, program in cellular biochemistry and biophysics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City. Rothman was selected "for a dissection of the biochemical mechanisms by which proteins are transferred from one cellular compartment to another and to the outside world. These mechanisms are important in neurotransmission, tissue biogenesis, and hormonal secretion." The award was established by Vera Lounsbery in memory of her husband.

The NAS Award in Molecular Biology -- a bronze medal and a $20,000 prize for a recent notable discovery in molecular biology by a young scientist -- will be shared this year. Richard H. Scheller, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professor, department of molecular and cellular physiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Thomas C. Südhof, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Gil Distinguished Chair in Neurosciences Research, department of molecular genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, will be honored "for their performance of elegant experiments to resolve the molecular components responsible for controlling neurotransmitter vesicle release and chemical communication within the nervous system." This prize continues an award established by the U.S. Steel Foundation and now supported by Monsanto Co.

The NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing -- a prize of $5,000 for excellence in scientific reviewing within the past 10 years (the 1997 field is evolutionary biology) -- goes to Paul Harvey, professor of zoology, department of zoology, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Harvey was named "for his many influential reviews embracing all aspects of evolutionary biology, and particularly for bringing evolutionary perspectives to other areas of biological investigation." The award was established by Annual Reviews Inc. and the Institute for Scientific Information, in honor of J. Murray Luck.

The Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal -- a bronze medal and a prize of $15,000 for excellence in published research on marine or freshwater algae -- goes to Isabella A. Abbott, G.P. Wilder Professor of Botany, department of botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Abbott was selected "for her comprehensive investigations of the biogeography and systematics of marine algae in the eastern and central Pacific with emphasis on Rhodophyta, the red algae." The medal was established through the Helen P. Smith Fund.

The J. Lawrence Smith Medal -- a bronze medal and a prize of $20,000 for investigations of meteoric bodies -- goes to Ernst Zinner, research professor of physics and of earth and planetary sciences, McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis. Zinner was chosen "for his pioneering studies of the isotopic composition of circumstellar dust grains preserved in meteorites, opening a new window to the formation of the solar nebula." The medal was established through the J. Lawrence Smith Fund by a gift from Sara Julia Smith.

The Troland Research Awards -- a sum of $35,000 given annually to each of two recipients to be used to support recipients' research within the broad spectrum of experimental psychology -- go to Richard Ivry, associate professor, department of psychology, University of California, Berkeley, "for his innovative work with normal humans and neurological patients showing the importance of the cerebellum for computations related to sensory and motor timing," and to Keith R. Kluender, associate professor, department of psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, "for his empirical and theoretical contributions to our understanding of the perception of speech." The awards were established by a bequest of Leonard T. Troland.

The Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology -- a prize of $5,000 for excellence in the field of microbiology -- goes to Carl R. Woese, professor of microbiology, department of microbiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Woese was selected "for discovering a kingdom of life, the Archaea -- using ribosomal RNA sequences for phylogenetic studies of microorganisms -- which has influenced concepts of evolution and microbial ecology, and has major technical and industrial applications." The award was established by the Foundation for Microbiology.

The Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal -- a bronze medal and a prize of $2,000 to stimulate research in Precambrian and Cambrian life and history -- goes to Mikhail A. Fedonkin, head, laboratory of Precambrian paleobiology, Paleontological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. Fedonkin was cited "for his meticulous and insightful documentation of the body fossils, tracks, and trails that record the earliest evolution of animals." The medal was established through the Walcott Fund by a gift from Mary Vaux Walcott.

George W. Thorn also will be honored at the April 28 ceremony. Thorn is Samuel A. Levine Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, and Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston, and was chosen to receive the 1997 Public Welfare Medal, the Academy's highest honor. The Academy recognized Thorn "for his establishment, guidance, and administration of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a major force for the welfare both of scientists and students." This award -- consisting of a bronze medal -- was established in 1914 to honor "distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare."

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, non-profit institution that provides science advice under a congressional charter.