APS News

President Announces 1997 Medal of Science Winners

In May, President Clinton announced the nine 1997 winners of the National Medal of Science, recognizing exemplary work in such diverse fields as human genetics, mathematics, physical science, and cognition and learning. The winners include four long-standing APS members. Including this year's recipients, the Medal has been awarded to 353 distinguished scientists and engineers.

NSF Director Neal Lane, in announcing the names of the recipients of the nation's highest honor for groundbreaking scientific research, noted "It is important that the nation publicly repay its debt to these outstanding men and women, whose contributions to science have helped to advance human learning, fight disease and provide insight into the central questions of the nature of universe and humanity's place in it".

The National Medal of Science was established by Congress in 1959, and is administered by the NSF. The Medal of Science winners were announced simultaneously with those of the National Medal of Technology, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The four APS members receiving the Medal of Science this year are: Darleane C. Hoffman, director of the Glenn T. Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley, was recognized for her discovery of plutonium in nature and for her numerous contributions to the understanding of radioactive decay, notably of heavy nuclei.

Harold S. Johnston, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, was cited for his understanding of the chemistry of nitrogen compounds and their role and reactions in the earth's stratosphere and in urban areas. His chemical and environmental research, have resulted in contributions to the understanding and conservation of the earth's atmosphere.

Marshall N. Rosenbluth, professor and research physicist, University of California, San Diego, was honored for his fundamental contributions to plasma physics, his leadership in the quest to develop controlled thermonuclear fusion, and his wide-ranging technical contributions to national security. He is noted for his theoretical studies of the behavior of plasmas and their instabilities.

Shing-Tung Yau, professor of mathematics at Harvard University, was recognized for his profound contributions to mathematics that have had a great impact on fields as diverse as topology, algebraic geometry, general relativity and string theory. His work has resulted in the solution of several long-standing and important problems in mathematics.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin