This week the White House announced winners of the 2011 National Medals of Science and Technology. There were seven awardees of the National Medals of Science and five awardees of the National Medals of Technology and Innovation. Here's one article on the science winners.
President Barrack Obama awarded 7 National Medals of Science this week to American researchers who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields. Among the honorees are 4 life scientists who have made seminal contributions in various areas of biology, including DNA structure and function, genetics, and biomedical engineering. Obama also named 5 inventors who will receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for contributing to the country’s competitiveness. “Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” Obama said in a statement.
Here are the National Medal of Science winners, who will receive their awards from the president at a White House ceremony to be held later this year:
- Jacqueline K. Barton, California Institute of Technology, for the discovery of a new property of the DNA helix called long-range electron transfer and for showing that this process, which may aid in the repair of damaged DNA molecules, depends upon the specific arrangement of stacked base pairs and other DNA dynamics.
- Ralph L. Brinster, University of Pennsylvania, for his fundamental contributions to the development and use of transgenic mice.
- Shu Chien, University of California, San Diego, for pioneering work in cardiovascular physiology and bioengineering.
- Rudolf Jaenisch, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for improving our understanding of epigenetic regulation of gene expression.
- Peter J. Stang, University of Utah, for his contributions to the development of organic supramolecular chemistry, which focuses on weaker and reversible, non-covalent interactions between molecules, and for his record of public service.
- Richard A. Tapia, Rice University, for his contributions in optimization theory and numerical analysis and for his efforts in mathematics and science education.
- S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan, New York University, for his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior.
I've always found what I'll call "Achievement Medals" very interesting. Each recipient has a story, and the awarding of the medal connotes a great honor. You can't BUY one of these medals - you have to EARN it. Well, MAYBE you can buy them in the aftermarket on eBay. But by definition, these are very scarce medals - when so few are given each year, the total number issued is generally small.
Because these medals are so scarce and so rarely show up in the marketplace, it's difficult to place a value on them. And as a numismatist, it's equally hard to learn about them. Although the Internet has made this a little easier, there is often little information to be had regarding the artists who designed them, the engravers who made the dies, or the company that struck them. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a book we could turn to to learn about them?
Perhaps a "Top 10 (or 100?) Achievement Medals" survey would get the ball rolling. Certainly famous medals like the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize medals would achieve a high ranking, as would the Congressional Medal of Honor. Would the National Medal of Technology and Innovation make the cut? It could be easy to get bogged down in a long nomination process, but regardless of the size of the nominating pool it would be interesting to learn which medals come out on top. Who can generate the longest list of medal nominees? Send me your nominations and I'll compile the initial list.
To read the complete article, see:
Seven New National Medal Winners
For more information on the medals, see:
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