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Press Release 09-193
President Obama Presents 2008 National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation

President and First Lady also hosted Astronomy Night for students

Photo of President Obama, 2008 National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology awardees.

President Obama with the 2008 National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology awardees.
Credit and Larger Version

October 8, 2009

President Barack Obama honored the 2008 recipients of the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in an awards ceremony at the White House on Oct. 7, 2009.

National Medal of Science, National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Awarded annually and each year, administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation, the National Medal of Science celebrated its 50th anniversary since being created by statute in 1959. The Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering, based on their advanced knowledge in, and contributions to, the biological, behavioral/social and physical sciences, as well as chemistry, engineering, computing and mathematics. This year, the medal was awarded to nine distinguished researchers:

  • Berni Alder, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif., and University of California Davis
  • Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health, Md.
  • Joanna Fowler, Brookhaven National Laboratory, N.Y.
  • Elaine Fuchs, the Rockefeller University, N.Y., and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Md.
  • James Gunn, Princeton University, N.J.
  • Rudolf Kalman, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
  • Michael Posner, University of Oregon, Ore.
  • JoAnne Stubbe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mass.
  • J. Craig Venter, J. Craig Venter Institute, Md. & Calif.

Also awarded annually, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Next year it will celebrate its 30th anniversary, as its roots are a 1980 statute. For outstanding contributions to the promotion of technology, and for the improvement of the economic, environmental or social well-being of the United States, the following individuals and company received this year's National Medal of Technology and Innovation are:

  • Forrest M. Bird, Percussionaire Corp., Idaho
  • Esther Sans Takeuchi, University at Buffalo, SUNY, N.Y.
  • Team: John E. Warnock and Charles M. Geschke (Adobe Systems Inc., Va.)
  • Company: IBM Corporation, N.Y.

Astronomy Night

The President and First Lady also hosted an Astronomy Night on the White House South Lawn to highlight STEM education and to increase awareness of the field of astronomy. Joining the President and 150 local middle-school students, were two high school students who have already made notable astronomical discoveries, stargazers Lucas Bolyard and Caroline Moore.

Bolyard, a West Virginia high school sophomore, discovered a new astronomical object--a strange type of neutron star called a rotating radio transient. He made the discovery by analyzing data from a giant radio telescope while participating in a project in which students are trained to scrutinize data from the National Science Foundation's giant Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. The project, called the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC), is a joint project of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and West Virginia University (WVU), funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Moore, a New York high school student, last year made a mark on astronomy with the discovery of Supernova 2008ha. Not only is she the youngest person to discover a supernova, but this particular supernova has been identified as a different type of stellar explosion.

Alex Filippenko, an NSF-funded researcher at the University of California at Berkeley who studies discoveries and rates of supernovae in nearby galaxies, was intrigued with Moore's finding, and in particular, the spectrum of the explosion that she observed. Moore's discovery has made experts question how stars die, since the current supernova models fall short of explaining the low luminosity and low energy of 2008ha. The discovery of her supernova has also shown how amateur astronomers can make a difference.

The event at the White House included more than 20 telescopes set up on the White House lawn focused on various objects. There were also interactive dome presentations and hands-on activities including scale models of the Solar System, impact cratering, and investigating meteorites and Moon rocks.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF, (703) 292-8311, lisajoy@nsf.gov
Dave Finley, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), (575) 835-7302, dfinley@nrao.edu

Program Contacts
Mayra N. Montrose, NSF, (703) 292-4757, mmontros@nsf.gov

Related Websites
National Medals Foundation (photos of medalists with President Obama available for download): http://www.nationalmedals.org/
NSF Fact Sheet: Medal of Science: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=100684
NSF Release Announcing Medalists: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=115622
White House Release: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Honors-Nations-Top-Scientists-and-Innovators/
Livermore Lab's release about Berni Alder: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-09/dlnl-lcp091709.php
NewsVirginian.com story about Francis Collins: /news/longurl.cfm?id=183
Brookhaven Lab's release about Joanna Fowler: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-09/dnl-blj092409.php#
Rockefeller University release about Ellen Fuchs: http://newswire.rockefeller.edu/?page=engine&id=969
Princeton University's release about James Gunn: /news/longurl.cfm?id=184
University of Oregon's release about Michael Posner: http://uonews.uoregon.edu/archive/news-release/2009/9/uos-posner-among-white-house-national-medal-winners
MIT's release about JoAnne Stubbs: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/stubbe-medal-0917.html
TIGR's release about J. Craig Ventor: /news/longurl.cfm?id=182
High-School Student Discovers Strange Astronomical Object (NRAO release): http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2009/pulsarstudent/
Young Scientist Caroline Moore Discovers Supernova (release and video): http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=115097&org=NSF&preview=false

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/

 

Photo of President Obama viewing Double-Double in Lyra with young stargazers.
President Obama views Double-Double in Lyra with young stargazers Lucas Bolyard and Caroline Moore.
Credit and Larger Version

NSF Director Arden Bement and Acting Deputy Director Cora Marrett with the 2008 Science medalists.
NSF Director Arden Bement and Acting Deputy Director Cora Marrett with the 2008 Science medalists.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of Berni Adler receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
Berni Adler received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of Francis Collins receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
Francis Collins received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of Joanna Fowler receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
Joanna Fowler received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of Elaine Fuchs receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
Elaine Fuchs received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of James Gunn receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
James Gunn received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of Rudolf Kalman receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
Rudolf Kalman received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of Michael Posner receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
Michael Posner received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of Joanna Stubbe receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
Joanna Stubbe received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of J. Craig Venter receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.
J. Craig Venter received the National Medal of Science on Oct. 7, 2009, from President Barack Obama.
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