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National Science Foundation Alan T. Waterman Award

Alan T. Waterman Award

Alan T. Waterman Award
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January 25, 2017

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, 35 years of age or younger, or not more than seven years beyond receiving a Ph.D. by December 31 of the year in which 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:

  • 2016 - Mircea Dincă, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chemistry
  • 2015 - Andrea Alù, University of Texas at Austin, Engineering
  • 2014 - Feng Zhang, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Biological Sciences
  • 2013 - Mung Chiang, Princeton University, Computer Science
  • 2012 - Robert Wood, Harvard University, Engineering, and Scott Aaronson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Computer Science
  • 2011 - Casey Dunn, Brown University, Evolutionary Biology
  • 2010 - Subhash Khot, New York University, Computer Science
  • 2009 - David Charbonneau, Harvard University, Astronomy
  • 2008 - Terence Tao, University of California, Los Angeles, Mathematics
  • 2007 - Peidong Yang, University of California, Berkeley, Chemistry
  • 2006 - Emmanuel Candes, California Institute of Technology, Mathematics
  • 2005 - Dalton Conley, New York University, Sociology
  • 2004 - Kristi Anseth, University of Colorado, Boulder, Bioengineering
  • 2003 - Angelika Amon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cell Biology
  • 2002 - Erich Jarvis, Duke University, Neurobiology
  • 2001 - Vahid Tarokh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wireless Communications
  • 2000 - Jennifer Doudna, Yale, Biochemistry


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

Related Websites
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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) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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