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Chemists Win Presidential Science Awards

Accolades: Obama picks honorees for National Medals of Science and Technology & Innovation

by Andrea Widener
December 28, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 1

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Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/LBNL
A. Paul Alivisatos
Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/LBNL
A. Paul Alivisatos

Chemists and chemical engineers are among the winners of the nation’s top scientific and technical awards. President Barack Obama announced the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology & Innovation honorees in late December.

“Science and technology are fundamental to solving some of our nation’s biggest challenges,” Obama said. “The knowledge produced by these Americans today will carry our country’s legacy of innovation forward and continue to help countless others around the world. Their work is a testament to American ingenuity.”

Medal of Science winners include A. Paul Alivisatos, a nanomaterials scientist and a chemistry professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He directs Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Geraldine Richmond, a chemistry professor at the University of Oregon who studies complex surfaces and boundary layers, also received the award. She is a founder of COACh, an organization that aims to promote women in chemistry, and is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Credit: Dustin Richmond
Geraldine Richmond
Credit: Dustin Richmond
Geraldine Richmond

In addition, physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, former chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, received the award. She is president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Winners of the National Medal of Technology & Innovation include chemist and nanomanufacturing expert Joseph DeSimone of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. He is the founder of the nanotech company Carbon3D.

A pair of chemical engineers also received the technology and innovation award. Nancy Ho, founder of the biotech company Green Tech America and a chemical engineering professor at Purdue University, is known for her work improving industrial microorganisms, especially for biofuels. Jonathan Rothberg, a chemical engineer and biochemist, is founder of business incubator and financer 4Catalyzer Corp. and companies that work on genetic sequencing technology.

The National Medal of Science was established in 1959 to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to U.S. science and engineering. Created in 1980, the technology medal recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to U.S. competitiveness. The winners will receive their award at a White House ceremony in early 2016.

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