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National Science Foundation Alan T. Waterman Award

Alan T. Waterman Award

Alan T. Waterman Award

August 5, 2020

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Background. The National Science Foundation's (NSF) annual Alan T. Waterman Award honors an outstanding young U.S. scientist or engineer. The awardee receives a grant of $1 million over five years for scientific research or advanced study in any field of science, plus a medal and other recognition.

Public Law 94-86 of the 94th Congress established the Waterman Award in 1975 to mark the 25th anniversary of the NSF and to honor its first director, Alan T. Waterman.

Criteria. A candidate must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. He or she must be 40 years of age or younger, OR not more than 10 years beyond receipt of the Ph.D. degree, by December 31st of the year in which they are nominated.  The candidate should have demonstrated exceptional individual achievements in scientific or engineering research of sufficient quality to be placed at the forefront of his or her peers. Criteria also include originality, innovation and a significant impact on the individual's field. 

Candidates. Nominations come from responses to a call for nominations sent to universities and colleges; scientific, engineering and other professional societies and organizations; and members of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The solicitation is also made available on the NSF web site. Candidates are nominated on the basis of the above criteria.

Selection. The Waterman Award Committee reviews all nominations and supporting documentation, then forwards its recommendation to the NSF director and to the National Science Board for a final determination.

Recipients. Recent recipients include the following:


Program Contacts
Sherrie M. B. Green, NSF, (703) 292-5053, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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