Obama bestows science, technology medals

WASHINGTON (AP) — From super glue to microchips to digital cameras, President Barack Obama on Wednesday celebrated the brains behind these inventions and other breakthroughs as examples of “the promise of science.”

In a ceremony in the White House East Room, Obama bestowed the National Medal of Science on 10 researchers and awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation to three individuals and a three-person team.

The medals represent the government’s highest honor for scientists, engineers and inventors.

Obama said their achievements “stand as a testament to the ingenuity, to their zeal for discovery and to the willingness to give of themselves and to sacrifice in order to expand the reach of human understanding. All of us have benefited from their work.”

Other honorees helped unlock the secrets of genetics and disease, nanotechnology, solar energy, and chemistry and biology.

Their work, Obama said, has saved lives, improved health, created new industries and millions of jobs, and transformed education and communication. It serves, he said, “as proof not only of their incredible creativity and skill, but of the promise of science itself.”

Recipients of the National Medal of Science are:

—Yakir Aharonov, Chapman University, Calif., for contributions to the foundations of quantum physics

—Stephen J. Benkovic, Pennsylvania State University, for research contributions in the field of bioorganic chemistry

—Esther M. Conwell, University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., for contributions to understanding electron and hole transport in semiconducting materials, and for extending her analysis to studying the electronic properties of DNA.

—Marye Anne Fox, University of California, San Diego, for research contributions in the areas of organic photochemistry and electrochemistry.

—Susan L. Lindquist, Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for her studies of protein folding.

—Mortimer Mishkin, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., for contributing to understanding the neural basis of perception and memory in primates.

—David B. Mumford, Brown University, Providence, R.I., for contributions to the field of mathematics that changed algebraic geometry, and for connecting mathematics to other disciplines such as computer vision and neurobiology.

—Stanley B. Prusiner, University of California, San Francisco, for discovering prions, the cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, and other related neurodegenerative diseases.

—Warren M. Washington, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo., for developing and using global climate models to understand climate and explain the role of human activities and natural processes in the Earth’s climate system.

—Amnon Yariv, California Institute of Technology, for contributions to photonics and quantum electronics, including his demonstration of the semiconductor distributed feedback laser that underpins today’s high-speed optical fiber communications.

Recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation are:

—Harry Coover of Eastman Chemical Co., Tennessee, for inventing cyanoacrylates, also known as super glues.

—Helen M. Free, Miles Laboratories, Indiana, for contributions to diagnostic chemistry through development of dip-and-read urinalysis.

—Steven J. Sasson, Eastman Kodak Co., New York, for inventing the digital camera and revolutionizing the way images are captured, stored and shared.

—The Intel Corp. team of Federico Faggin, Marcian E. Hoff Jr. and Stanley Mazor for inventing the first microprocessor.


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