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News Release 09-175

President Honors Nation's Top Scientists and Innovators

the National Medal of Science

President Obama named 2008 National Medal of Science awardees, the nation's highest science honor.

September 18, 2009

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

President Obama named nine researchers as recipients of the National Medal of Science, and four inventors and one company as recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honors bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers and inventors. The recipients will receive their awards on October 7, at a White House ceremony.

"These scientists, engineers and inventors are national icons, embodying the very best of American ingenuity and inspiring a new generation of thinkers and innovators," said President Obama. "Their extraordinary achievements strengthen our nation every day--not just intellectually and technologically but also economically, by helping create new industries and opportunities that others before them could never have imagined."

"Each year we are proud to help select the National Medal of Science recipients, gifted individuals who have contributed to America and to science with superb research," said Arden L. Bement, Jr., director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). "These 2008 laureates have impacted our lives by enhancing understanding of the human brain, mapping the human genome and uncovering the basis of human diseases to designing influential astronomical telescopes that further reveal the properties of matter, and establishing a scientific basis for Moon landings and today's widely used GPS [Global Positioning System]. Their accomplishments reflect the great import of this award."

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959, and is administered for the White House by NSF. Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. Nominees are selected by a committee of Presidential appointees 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's National Medal of Science recipients are:

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.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation has its roots in a 1980 statute and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The award recognizes individuals or companies for their outstanding contributions to the promotion of technology for the improvement of the economic, environmental or social well-being of the United States. Nominees are selected by a distinguished independent committee representing both the private and public sectors.

This year's National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients 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.

Note to regional reporters: For more information about or interviews with local winners of the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, please contact the awardees' home institution or agency.


Media Contacts
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF, (703) 292-8311, email:

Program Contacts
Mayra N. Montrose, NSF, (703) 292-4757, 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 2023 budget of $9.5 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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