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Photo of Arden Bement

Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr.
National Science Foundation

NSF Awards Ceremony
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Building
Arlington, Virginia

June 11, 2008

Good morning and welcome to the 2008 Director's Awards Ceremony. Kathie and I look forward to this opportunity each year to acknowledge and reward the many individual efforts it takes to maintain NSF's mission and high standing in the Federal government.

In the day-to-day shuffle, it's easy to feel like one's personal contributions are going unnoticed. That's why today's event is so important – it gives us all the chance to pause from our daily routine and celebrate those particular people who make it easier for the rest of us to do our best work.

Every year, thousands of funding awards travel through our doors. Your passion and dedication to funding the very best research and education makes NSF one of the most esteemed organizations in science and engineering. This ceremony allows us to share in each other's accomplishments.

It also gives us the opportunity to take stock of the past year.

We've welcomed several distinguished additions to our senior management team. CISE brought Jeanette Wing on board as Assistant Director last July. Tim Killeen will soon take the helm in GEO. And Ed Seidel, our new director of the Office of Cyberinfrastructure, will be joining us in September.

We've also said farewell to good friends this year. Nat Pitts retired from OIA after a long and distinguished career at NSF. Engineering's AD Richard Buckius is soon off to a new opportunity at Purdue, and he will be missed.

Marta Cehelsky is departing NSF after 25 years of outstanding service. And Dan Atkins will soon return to the University of Michigan after serving as the director of OCI. And Tom Weber will soon leave us after serving in a variety of leadership positions at NSF, including heading OISE and the Division of Materials Research.

This year, several staff members were asked to perform one of the most daunting tasks I can think of: testifying before Congress. In addition to Kathie and I, Cora Marrett, Lynda Carlson, Kesh Narayanan, David Ucko, and Mark Weiss did a wonderful job of representing our Foundation before Congress. It is a testimony, no pun intended, to the entire Foundation that Congress takes this extra interest in our work.

Our public affairs staff took home multiple 2007 National Association of Government Communicators awards, including three First Place prizes for web and video content. And OLPA recently expanded our on-site audio-visual capabilities this year with the launch of Studio 8, a state-of-the-art production studio that will allow us to expand our mission of outreach to the public.

And last month, NSF was one of only four government agencies to earn an "A+" for computer security from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The rest of the government managed to squeeze by with a "C" average, so we can truly claim to be at the head of the class when it comes to safeguarding our information technology!

In January, I traveled to the South Pole to join our scientists and several representatives of Congress and the administration in the official dedication of the new Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The dedication coincides with the International Polar Year, which is currently in full swing, with special research projects targeting both Polar Regions.

The amount of activity surrounding IPY research projects is off the charts, not just in the US, but also around the world. IPY is just one example of many success stories in international scientific collaboration.

In November, we joined with pioneers of computer networking to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of the modern Internet, which began as an initiative to upgrade NSFNET.

In February, we announced the launch of, the result of long hours of work by many of you in the audience. The launch is just the beginning for, and in the years to come, we look forward to seeing it grow and evolve into an essential tool for the research and education communities we serve.

Also in February, we held our annual Budget Roll-Out and open house. Thanks to the outreach and dedication of our cadre of science assistants, we hosted a record number of children, who took delight in the various demonstrations and activities that our tireless science assistants spent long hours preparing.

And last month, our science assistants were hard at work once again doing outreach at the Taste of Arlington event for Ballston. Thanks to their efforts, the science IQ of the surrounding community has gone up quite a bit.

It was an auspicious year for NSF-funded researchers in a number of ways.

For one, three NSF-funded economists shared the Nobel Prize in Economics. That brings the total number of NSF-funded Nobel Prize winners in Science to 175. We’re on an 11-year winning streak for the Economics Prize.

And speaking of the Nobel, here's one we don't see every year: the Nobel Peace Prize! Multiple NSF-funded researchers, including 40 scientists from NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, participated in the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was honored for its two decades of scientific reports on global warming.

It's nice to know that our efforts are not only promoting science, but world peace as well!

NSF is a proud and honored institution – proud of our accomplishments, and honored to have such an outstanding staff. We are a small agency with a grand mission and you make us what we are.

Whether you are picking up an award yourself, watching a friend or family member accept an award, or are just here to support and celebrate your colleagues, thank you for coming today.

Congratulations to everyone on another year of excellence. I will now turn the podium over to Kathie.