A Nobel laureate, a pioneering cosmologist, a climate change researcher and the federal government's top expert on infectious diseases are among the recipients of the National Medal of Science named Tuesday by President Bush.
The medal ranks among the highest honors given out by the White House for scientific research. The program was established by Congress in 1959 and is administered by the National Science Foundation.
"The National Medal of Science honors individuals for pioneering scientific research in a range of fields, including physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral and engineering sciences, that enhances our understanding of the world and leads to innovations and technologies that give the United States its global economic edge," Tuesday's White House statement said.
Because of the program's long selection process, these laureates are being honored with the 2005 National Medal of Science. The eight are to receive their awards from Bush during a White House ceremony later this year.
The recipients include:
- Jan D. Achenbach, Northwestern University: Achenbach's engineering research involves the propagation of mechanical disturbances in solids. Current research activities are in ultrasonic methods for quantitative non-destructive evaluation. Achenbach has also carried out research on earthquake mechanisms, on the mechanical behavior of composite materials under dynamic loading conditions and on the vibrations of solid propellant rockets. Achenbach was a recipient of the 2003 National Medal of Technology, which is also awarded by the White House but is administered by the Commerce Department's Technology Administration.
- Ralph A. Alpher, The Dudley University: Alpher, a cosmologist, is best known for his prediction of residual background radiation from the Big Bang in 1948, along with fellow physicist George Gamow. The prediction was backed up by observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation in 1964, opening the way toward scientists' current view of the inflationary Big Bang universe.
- Gordon H. Bower, Stanford University: Bower, a psychology professor emeritus, was cited "for his unparalleled contributions to cognitive and mathematical psychology, for his lucid analyses of remembering and reasoning and for his important service to psychology and to American science."
- Bradley Efron, Stanford University: Efron, a professor of statistics as well as health research and policy, was cited "for his contributions to theoretical and applied statistics, especially the bootstrap sampling technique; for his extraordinary geometric insight into nonlinear statistical problems; and for applications in medicine, physics and astronomy." He invented the bootstrap method, a method for attaching plus-or-minus values to a statistical estimate (as in, for example, "57 percent of the public plus or minus 3 percent are in favor of subsidizing public utilities").
- Anthony S. Fauci, National Institutes of Health: Since 1984, Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, where he oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism.
- Tobin J. Marks, Northwestern University: Marks is a materials scientist and engineer who specializes in thin-film photonic materials, electrically functional materials and electroceramics. Such works contributes to the development of new methods for high-speed data transmission, organic-based display devices and molecular-scale electronics.
- Lonnie G. Thompson, Ohio State University: Thompson, a glaciologist who has probably spent more time at high altitudes than any other person, was cited for providing explicit evidence of global climate change. He has led more than 50 expeditions to ice caps and glaciers on five continents. Thompson and his research colleagues have provided irrefutable evidence that the last half-century was the warmest period in recorded history.
- Torsten N. Wiesel, The Rockefeller University: Wiesel is president emeritus of The Rockefeller University, having previously served as its president. Under his leadership, the university added 30 new laboratories conducting vanguard research in key areas of biology, chemistry and physics. In 1981, Wiesel shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research into how visual information collected by the retina is transmitted to and processed by the brain.