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NSF Press Release


NSF PR 03-121 - October 22, 2003

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 Bill Noxon

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 Susan Fannoney

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President Names Eight Elite Scientists and Engineers to Receive National Medals of Science

Arlington, Va.—President Bush today named eight of the nation's leading scientists and engineers to receive the 2002 National Medal of Science for work that spawned many advances in scientific theory and developments leading to new technologies. The presidential medal is the nation's highest honor for researchers who make major impacts in fields of science and engineering through career-long, ground-breaking achievements and on the individual disciplines for which the awards are given. The medal also recognizes contributions to innovation, industry or education.

The president named for the Medal of Science biologists James E. Darnell of Rockefeller University in New York City, who discovered RNA processing, and Evelyn M. Witkin of Rutgers University, who confirmed the notion of DNA repair.

Leo L. Beranek of Cambridge, Mass., a retired leader in acoustical science for the military and the arts, will receive the medal for engineering.

Mathematician James G. Glimm of Stony Brook University is being honored for his work in shock wave theory and other cross-disciplinary fields in mathematical physics.

John I. Brauman of Stanford University will receive the award in chemistry. Three other honorees in the physical sciences include W. Jason Morgan of Princeton University, Richard L. Garwin at the Council on Foreign Relations In New York City, and Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.

Brauman's chemistry research answered many questions about the role of solvents. Morgan, a Princeton professor of geography, revolutionized the theory of plate tectonics, a milestone for scientists studying how earthquakes occur and how Earth's history is documented. Garwin, a military technology innovator, invented and patented magnetic resonance techniques that are key to today's magnetic resonance imaging technology. He also laid the foundation for technologies in superconducting electronic circuitry. Witten is a world leader in string theory, an attempt by physicists to describe the forces of nature in a unified way.

"The ideas and breakthroughs in fundamental science and engineering by these extraordinary pioneers have influenced thousands of other researchers," National Science Foundation director Rita Colwell said. "These amazing people represent overall close to four centuries worth of experience in research, teaching and leadership inside their fields and extending across many other disciplines as well."

NSF, an independent federal agency that funds and supports fundamental scientific research at the nation's universities, administers the National Medal of Science for the White House. A White House ceremony has been scheduled for Nov. 6 to honor the recipients of both the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology.

Six of the eight scientists and engineers receiving the medals have connections to universities and organizations in and around New York City. Glimm received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in mathematics and Witkin (now at Rutgers) received hers from Columbia in zoology. Darnell, of Rockefeller, Garwin, of the Council on Foreign Relations, Morgan of Princeton, and Witten of The Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., represent the other New York-area medal recipients.

"We now see the daily evidence of the tremendous advancements in technological capabilities, human health, and vast new knowledge within our physical world due to these heroes of science we celebrate today," Colwell said.

Congress established the National Medal of Science in 1959. The 2002 awards bring to 409 the total number of science medals awarded since their inception. Witkin of Rutgers is the 30th woman to receive the medal. The medal to Brauman brings to 29 the number of medals awarded to Stanford University (including its medical school). Morgan's award is the 15th for Princeton University.


Attachment: Laureates of the 2002 National Medal of Science

For more detailed vital information on the 2002 medal recipients, see below, or: "Vital Information" - Laureates of the 2002 National Medal of Science
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Laureates of the 2002 National Medal of Science


James E. Darnell, Rockefeller University - A leader in researching how cells retrieve information from DNA, Darnell and colleagues achieved the first direct evidence for RNA processing and for signaling genes from the cell surface. His early quantitative studies on animal viruses showed how to demonstrate the chronology of viral RNA and protein synthesis. Public Information Contact: Joseph Bonner, Rockefeller University, Voice (212) 327-8998, Fax (212) 327-7876, E-mail

Evelyn M. Witkin, Rutgers University - Witkin was largely responsible for creating the field of DNA mutagenesis and DNA repair. She showed a repair process in bacteria by observing that slowing the growth rate of bacteria cultured in the dark prevented the accumulation of a class of ultra-violet ray induced mutants, which became known as the dark repair mechanism. Public Information Contact: Joseph Blumberg, Rutgers University, Voice (732) 932-7084 ext. 652, Fax (732) 932-8412, E-mail


John I. Brauman, Stanford University - Brauman advanced scientific knowledge by demonstrating differences in chemical reactivity in the presence or absence of solvent, making it possible to infer the role solvent plays in chemical stability and reactivity. He developed techniques for exploring and enhancing understanding of energy transfer and its effects on chemical dynamics. Public Information Contact: Dawn Levy, Stanford University, Voice (650) 725-1944, Fax (650) 725-0247, E-mail


Leo L. Beranek (ret.), BBN Technologies, Cambridge, Mass. - Beranek designed new communications and noise reduction systems for World War II aircraft and made other military technology advances. In music, his seminal 1962 text, Music Acoustics and Architecture, developed from his research of 55 concert halls throughout the world became a standard for many years beyond its publication. Public Information Contact: Mark Marchand, BBN Technologies (subsidiary of Verizon), Voice (518) 396-1080, E-mail


James G. Glimm, Stony Brook University - Glimm is noted for his outstanding contributions to shock wave theory, which explains the intense compression in natural phenomena, such as air pressure in sonic booms. His work in quantum field theory and statistical mechanics had a major impact on mathematical physics and probability. Public Information Contact: Pat Calabria, Stony Brook University, Voice (631) 444-9540, Fax (631) 444-7922, E-mail


W. Jason Morgan, Princeton University - Morgan is creditied with explaining two profound concepts - plate tectonics and mantle plumes - the essential underpinnings of modern seismology, volcanology and mantle geochemistry. Development of plate tectonics has revolutionized the geophysical study of the Earth and its history. Public Information Contact: Steven Schultz, Princeton University, Voice (609) 258-5729, Fax (609) 258-1301, E-mail

Richard L. Garwin, Council on Foreign Relations - Garwin invented and patented magnetic resonance techniques now used in medical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). In the 1960s and 1970s, his inventions laid the foundation for superconducting electronic circuitry. He proposed many U.S. military innovations, and he is a top adviser to the nation's leadership in a wide range of scientific issues, safety of nuclear weapons and arms control. Public Information Contact: Marie Strauss, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, N.Y. Voice (212) 434-9536, Fax (212) 434-9832, E-mail

Edward Witten, Institute for Advanced Study - Witten is the world leader in "string theory," the attempt to describe in a unified way all the known forces of nature. His earliest papers produced advances in quantum chromodynamics, describing the interactions among the fundamental particles (quarks and gluons) that make up all nuclei. Public Information Contact: Georgia Whidden, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Voice (609) 734-8239, E-mail




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