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The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the
President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Federal government of the United States#Executive branch, executive branch of the Federal govern ...
to individuals in
science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the u ...
and
engineering Engineering is the use of scientific method, scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad rang ...
who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences,
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Developmenta ...
,
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a Ch ...
,
engineering Engineering is the use of scientific method, scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad rang ...
,
mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It has no generally ...
and
physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, spa ...
. The twelve member presidential Committee on the National Medal of Science is responsible for selecting award recipients and is administered by the
National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an Independent agencies of the United States government#Examples of independent agencies, independent agency of the United States government that supports fundamental research and education in all the non- ...
(NSF).


History

The National Medal of Science was established on August 25, 1959, by an act of the
Congress of the United States The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government) is the Federation#Federal governments, n ...
under . The medal was originally to honor scientists in the fields of the "physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences". The Committee on the National Medal of Science was established on August 23, 1961, by
executive order An executive order is a means of issuing federal directives in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily lo ...
10961 of President John F. Kennedy. On January 7, 1979, the
American Association for the Advancement of Science The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an American international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibil ...
(AAAS) passed a resolution proposing that the medal be expanded to include the social and behavioral sciences. In response, Senator Ted Kennedy introduced the ''Science and Technology Equal Opportunities Act'' into the
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on March 7, 1979, expanding the medal to include these scientific disciplines as well.
President Jimmy Carter
President Jimmy Carter
's signature enacted this change as Public Law 96-516 on December 12, 1980. Theodore von Kármán In 1992, the National Science Foundation signed a letter of agreement with the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation that made the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation the metaorganization over both the National Medal of Science and the very similar National Medal of Technology. The first National Medal of Science was awarded on February 18, 1963, for the year 1962 by President John F. Kennedy to Theodore von Kármán for his work at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The citation accompanying von Kármán's award reads:
For his leadership in the science and engineering basic to aeronautics; for his effective teaching and related contributions in many fields of mechanics, for his distinguished counsel to the Armed Services, and for his promoting international cooperation in science and engineering.
The first woman to receive a National Medal of Science was Barbara McClintock, who was awarded for her work on plant genetics in 1970. The awards ceremony is organized by the Office of Science and Technology Policy. It takes place at the White House and is presided by the sitting United States president. Although Public Law 86-209 provides for 20 recipients of the medal per year, it is typical for approximately 8–15 accomplished scientists and engineers to receive this distinction each year. There have been a number of years where no National Medals of Science were awarded. Those years include: 1985, 1984, 1980, 1978, 1977, 1972 and 1971. President Donald J. Trump did not confer any National Medals of Science during his presidency. The last time the medal was awarded was on May 19, 2016, when President Barack Obama conferred the 2013 and 2014 medals.


Award process

Each year the National Science Foundation sends out a call to the scientific community for the nomination of new candidates for the National Medal of Science. Individuals are nominated by their peers with each nomination requiring three letters of support from individuals in science and technology. Nominations are then sent to the Committee of the National Medal of Science which is a board composed of fourteen presidential appointees comprising twelve scientists, and two ''ex officio'' members—the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the president of the United States National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences (NAS). According to the Committee, successful candidates must be United States citizenship, U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are applying for U.S. citizenship, who have done work of significantly outstanding merit or that has had a major impact on scientific thought in their field. The Committee also values those who promote the general advancement of science and individuals who have influenced science education, although these traits are less important than groundbreaking or thought-provoking research. The nomination of a candidate is effective for three years; at the end of three years, the candidates peers are allowed to renominate the candidate. The Committee makes their recommendations to the President for the final awarding decision.


The Medal

The National Medal of Science depicts Man, surrounded by earth, sea, and sky, contemplating and struggling to understand Nature. The crystal in his hand represents the universal order and also suggests the basic unit of living things. The formula being outlined in the sand symbolizes scientific abstraction.


Recipients


See also

* List of general science and technology awards * National Medal of Arts * National Medal of Technology and Innovation


References


External links


National Science FoundationSearchable Database of National Medal of Science RecipientsNational Science & Technology Medals FoundationUsing the National Medal of Science to recognize advances in psychology
{{DEFAULTSORT:National Medal Of Science Civil awards and decorations of the United States Science and technology awards American science and technology awards Awards established in 1959