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National Medal of Science

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What makes a good nomination?

A: Ideal nominations demonstrate that the individual is deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding cumulative contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or behavioral or social sciences, in service to the Nation. These broad areas include such disciplines as astronomy, chemistry, computer and information science and engineering, geoscience, materials research, and research on STEM education. (Evaluation considerations are provided in the Awards Selection Consideration section of the Nomination Information webpage.

Q: Who evaluates the nomination?
A: The nominations are evaluated by a Committee of distinguished scientists and engineers appointed by the President. The Committee is composed of fourteen appointed members and two ex officio members. The ex officio members are the Science Advisor and the President of the National Academy of Sciences.

Q: Who can submit a nomination? Can the nominator be from the nominee’s home institution?

A: With a few exceptions, anyone can submit a nomination, including individuals from the nominee’s home institution. People may not nominate themselves, nor may nominations come from immediate family members. Persons currently on staff at the National Science Foundation should not submit nominations. We emphasize that the nomination is an opportunity to craft a compelling vision and story for the nominee. It may be most beneficial for the nominator to be someone very knowledgeable about the nominee’s work.

Q. If I want to nominate someone for National Medal of Science as a surprise, may I do so without letting them know?

A: You may nominate someone without their knowledge; however, it might be beneficial for the nominee to be involved in the process given that their input may provide useful insights with crafting a compelling nomination.

Q: Who should write the letters of support and is there a page limit?
A: Three letters of support from individuals at organizations other than the nominees home institution are required for nominations to be considered. A total of five letters of support may be submitted. Letters of support are limited to two pages.

Q: How often can I submit a nomination? Can I nominate more than one person or the same person again?
A: You can make as many nominations as you like — of the same person or different people.

Q: How long are nominations eligible for consideration?
A: Nominations are eligible for three years — the year it is submitted and the following two years.

Q. When was the last time National Medal of Science awardees were announced? When will new awardees be announced?

A: The most recent laureates for the National Medal of Science were announced in 2015 and honored at a ceremony at the White House in 2016. NSF and the current administration are working to address the backlog of nominations. We will post new information when we have it.

Q: When will award decisions be announced?

A: After Committee review, the U.S. President makes the final decision on who will be awarded the National Medal of Science, and the White House makes the announcement. Currently, there is no set date for making an announcement.

For any other inquiries, please email nms@nsf.gov.