Text Only Version text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text
Transcoder Skip top navigation and go to page content
National Science Foundation

About the National Medal of Science

Photo of marine holding ribbon with Medal
Group photo

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").

Center image: NSF Deputy Director Cora Marrett (far left) and NSF Director Subra Suresh (far right) with the 2009 National Medal of Science laureates at the black tie dinner preceding the White House medals ceremony. The laureates are, from left to right: Amnon Yariv, Warren Washington (former chairman of the National Science Board), Stanley Prusiner, David Mumford, Mortimer Mishkin, Susan Lindquist, Marye Anne Fox, Esther Conwell, Stephen Benkovic and Yakir Aharonov.
Credit: Sandy Shaeffer for the National Science Foundation

Right image: At the ready, a marine holds a National Medal of Science for presentation to a laureate during the White House ceremony.
Credit: Sandy Shaeffer for the National Science Foundation

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.