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Press Release 10-222
President Obama Awards National Medals of Science to America's Best and Brightest Scientific Minds

Obama calls celebrating their contributions "one of the most important ways to restore science to its rightful place"

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NSF Deputy Director Cora Marrett, Director Subra Suresh and National Medal of Science laureates.

NSF Deputy Director and Director bookend National Medal of Science laureates at the celebratory black tie dinner that followed the White House ceremony. From left to right, NSF Deputy Director Cora Marrett, Amnon Yariv, Warren Washington (former Chairman of the National Science Board), Stanley Prusiner, David Mumford, Mortimer Mishkin, Susan Lindquist, Marye Anne Fox, Esther Conwell, Stephen Benkovic, Yakir Aharonov and NSF Director Subra Suresh.

Credit: Sandy Shaeffer for the National Science Foundation


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Photo of the National Medal of Science.

The National Medal of Science.

Credit: NSF


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Photo of National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients with President Obama.

The president with National Medal of Technology and Innovation Winners: Marcian E. "Ted" Hoff, Jr., Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin for the conception, design, development and application of the first microcomputer, a universal building block that enabled a multitude of novel digital electronic systems. Other National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients were: Harry Coover for his invention of cyanoacrylates, a new class of adhesives that have influenced medicine and industry, and are known widely to consumers as "super" glues; Helen Free for her seminal contributions to diagnostic chemistry, primarily through dip-and-read urinalysis tests, that first enabled diabetics to monitor their blood glucose levels on their own; and Steven Sasson for the invention of the digital camera, which has revolutionized the way images are captured, stored and shared, thereby creating new opportunities for commerce, for education and for improved worldwide communication.

Credit: Sandy Schaeffer for the National Science Foundation.


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National Medal of Science awardees Stephen Benkovic on left, Esther Conwell and Marye Anne Fox.

From left to right, Stephen Benkovic of Pennsylvania State University joins Esther Conwell of the University of Rochester and Marye Anne Fox of the University of California in a photo as they await their presentation of the National Medal of Science by President Obama at the White House. Since its inception, 468 researchers have been awarded the NMS. Of those, 39 have been women. Including the three female laureates this year, just 8.3 percent of National Medal of Science awardees have been women.

Credit: Sandy Shaeffer for NSF.


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Photo of Caltech's Amnon Yariv, a National Medal of Science awardee for contributions in optics.

Amnon Yariv of the California Institute of Technology was awarded the National Medal of Science for scientific and engineering contributions to photonics and quantum electronics that have profoundly impacted lightwave communications and the field of optics as a whole. His recent NSF award is enabling him to help bring closer to reality the inevitable merger of optics and electronics, or in material terms, the union of silicon and III-V materials on a platform, critical for nanotechnology device performance for the next generation of information technology.

Credit: Ryan K Morris Photography and the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation.


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Photo of National Medal of Science awardee Esther Conwell for contributions in electronics.

Esther Conwell of the University of Rochester was awarded the National Medal of Science for promoting women in science, and for contributions to understanding electron and whole transport in semiconducting materials that has helped to enable integrated circuits and organic electronic devices. Early in her career, President Obama explained during the awards ceremony, she was hired as an assistant engineer, only to be later told that this position was not open to women and that she must instead serve as an assistant to an engineer. This failed to deter her from making significant contributions to her field, the president noted.

Credit: Ryan K Morris Photography and the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation.


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