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About the National Medal of Science

a group photo and a marine holding ribbon with the national medal

Established by the 86th Congress in 1959, the National Medal of Science (NMS) is the highest honor bestowed upon American scientists and engineers by the president of the United States. It is given to individuals deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding cumulative contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or behavioral or social sciences, and their exemplary service to the nation.

The president presents the medals to recipients at an annual awards ceremony at the White House. Although up to 20 awards may be given in a single year, the president typically bestows eight to 12 awards annually. Since the medal's inception, over 400 American scientists have been recognized by the president, who chooses awardees with the assistance of the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science (“the Committee”).

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