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Photo of Cora Marrett

Dr. Subra Suresh
National Science Foundation

at the Awards Dinner of the
2009 National Medal of Science and
National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Washington, DC

November 16, 2010

Photo by Sandy Schaeffer

Good evening. To our distinguished Laureates, to their families and friends, and to all gathered here tonight, it is my pleasure to welcome you to a splendid evening celebrating the achievements of U.S. scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and innovators.

At this point, the pride and appreciation that I express to you, the Laureates, are but dim echoes of the plaudits that your families, friends, and colleagues have already expressed. But know that the passage of time does not diminish the enthusiasm of my comments for your notable accomplishments.

This year is the 51st anniversary of the National Medal of Science and the 30th anniversary of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

These two Medals celebrate the heritage of American discovery, invention, and innovation that traces back at least to Benjamin Franklin, a Philadelphia printer, statesman, and scientist, who, some 250 years ago, discovered the dual charges of electricity, developed the lightning rod, mapped the Gulf Stream, founded a university, and helped launch a nation.

This year's Laureates will join giants of science such as chemist Harold Urey; cytogeneticist Barbara McClintock; behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner; mathematician Kurt Gödel; space scientist and physicist James Van Allen; and earthquake engineer George Housner; among other past Medal recipients.

Yet, as we celebrate our past, we also affirm that America has always been about the future.

Tonight, we acknowledge not only the heritage that you received and have carried on, but even more so, we celebrate the legacy that you bestow to coming generations of explorers, discoverers, inventors, and innovators.

You are renowned for creating new knowledge and new fields. Your have opened frontiers for your peers and for future generations to explore. You consistently affirm that in discovery and innovation, we are not done. In fact, we have only just begun.

As you were becoming leaders in your fields, we recognized you. Now as Laureates, you feed our anticipation of continued contributions and leadership. And, we look forward to the future flowering of science and innovation in your hands and in the hearts and minds of those you mentor and train.

For whether scientist or engineer, mathematician or innovator, we share common aspirations:

To go and to explore and to find out;

To probe and to prove;

To create and to doubt and to figure out;

To invent and to innovate; and

To put the minds and the hands of humanity to work in creating a better world for all.