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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Physical Society is thrilled that Cherry A. Murray, dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Burton Richter, Nobel Prize winner, were named recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the National Medal of Science, respectively.
The awards are the nation’s highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology. President Obama will honor Murray and Richter, along with 16 other awardees during a White House ceremony later this year.
“This is truly a wonderful pair of honors,” said APS President Malcolm R. Beasley. “The careers of Murray and Richter reflect distinction in research and in leadership in the service of science, both at the highest level.”
Both Murray and Richter previously served as APS presidents.
Murray earned her bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in physics in 1973 and 1978, respectively from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She began her career at Bell Laboratories, where she was recognized for her research on the use of light-scattering and condensed-matter physics. She later worked at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and led 3,500 employees in providing core science and technology support for the lab’s major programs.
Murray was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999. In 2001, Discover Magazine named her one of the “50 Most Important Women in Science.” She has served on the APS Executive Board and Council and has been an active member of many APS task forces, divisions and forums. In 1989, Murray won the APS Maria Goeppert Mayer Award for outstanding achievement by a female physicist in the early years of her career.
In 2005, she was lauded with the APS George E. Pake Prize in recognition of outstanding work combining original research accomplishments with leadership and development in industry. Murray is currently a member of the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and serves on the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories.
Richter earned a bachelor’s of science degree in physics in 1952 and Ph.D. in 1956, both from MIT. In 1976, he shared the Nobel Prize in physics with Samuel Ting for their co-discovery of a subatomic particle known as the J/psi. It provided evidence that Gell-mann & Zweig’s theory about quarks — fundamental building blocks of matter — was incomplete, leading to the Standard Model.
As director of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, from 1984 to 1999, Richter led advances in accelerator science and technology that resulted in discoveries in particles physics and laid the groundwork for advances in photon science. He began his career at Stanford in 1956 as a research associate in the High Energy Physics Laboratory.
Richter is also widely regarded as a formidable leader in the energy policy arena, including chairing the committee that developed the APS Energy Efficiency report and serving as a member of the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force at Stanford University. He is also author of the book, “Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century.” Richter has been lauded with numerous honors and awards, including the Enrico Fermi Award in 2012 for scientific achievement.
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The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 55,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, Maryland (Headquarters), Ridge, New York, and Washington, D.C.