Seven scientists, mostly in molecular biology and genetics, received the National Medal of Science, and five innovators were awarded the technology version, the White House announced this week.
“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,” President Barack Obama said in a prepared statement. “Their ingenuity inspires us all to reach higher and try harder, no matter how difficult the challenges we face.”
The recipients are listed below, from the official announcement. They will be honored at a White House ceremony later this year. Congratulations to them all!
National Medal of Science
Jacqueline K. Barton, California Institute of Technology
For discovery of a new property of the DNA helix, long-range electron transfer, and for showing that electron transfer depends upon stacking of the base pairs and DNA dynamics. Her experiments reveal a strategy for how DNA repair proteins locate DNA lesions and demonstrate a biological role for DNA-mediated charge transfer.
Ralph L. Brinster, University of Pennsylvania
For his fundamental contributions to the development and use of transgenic mice. His research has provided experimental foundations and inspiration for progress in germline genetic modification in a range of species, which has generated a revolution in biology, medicine, and agriculture.
Shu Chien, University of California, San Diego
For pioneering work in cardiovascular physiology and bioengineering, which has had tremendous impact in the fields of microcirculation, blood rheology and mechanotransduction in human health and disease.
Rudolf Jaenisch, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
For improving our understanding of epigenetic regulation of gene expression: the biological mechanisms that affect how genetic information is variably expressed. His work has led to major advances in our understanding of mammalian cloning and embryonic stem cells.
[Indeed, stem cell studies in Jaenisch's lab have gotten many mentions in Scientific American, such as this one about a new way to grow them faster and one about how adult stem cells could replace the controversial embryonic kind.]
Peter J. Stang, University of Utah
For his creative contributions to the development of organic supramolecular chemistry and for his outstanding and unique record of public service.
Richard A. Tapia, Rice University
For his pioneering and fundamental contributions in optimization theory and numerical analysis and for his dedication and sustained efforts in fostering diversity and excellence in mathematics and science education.
Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, New York University
For his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior, which has revolutionized this field of study during the second half of the twentieth century and become a cornerstone of both pure and applied probability. The mathematical insights he developed have been applied in diverse fields including quantum field theory, population dynamics, finance, econometrics, and traffic engineering.
National Medal of Technology and Innovation
Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue University
For an extraordinary record of innovations in improving the energy efficiency and reducing the cost of gas liquefaction and separation. These innovations have had significant positive impacts on electronic device manufacturing, liquefied gas production, and the supply of industrial gases for diverse industries.
[Rakesh Agrawal of Purdue is not to be confused with Rakesh Agrawal of Microsoft Research, who won a Scientific American 50 award in 2003 for devised methods to preserve the privacy of information in large databases.]
B. Jayant Baliga, North Carolina State University
For development and commercialization of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor and other power semiconductor devices that are extensively used in transportation, lighting, medicine, defense, and renewable energy generation systems.
C. Donald Bateman, Honeywell
For developing and championing critical flight-safety sensors now used by aircraft worldwide, including ground proximity warning systems and wind-shear detection systems.
Yvonne C. Brill, RCA Astro Electronics (Retired)
For innovation in rocket propulsion systems for geosynchronous and low earth orbit communication satellites, which greatly improved the effectiveness of space propulsion systems.
Michael F. Tompsett, TheraManager
For pioneering work in materials and electronic technologies including the design and development of the first charge-coupled device (CCD) imagers.