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
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:
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:
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.
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) 2017, 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.
Useful NSF Web Sites: