Researchers who plumbed the depths of the Antarctic ozone hole, helped show that modern cells are assembled from once independent life-forms, and created reading machines for the blind were among those awarded National Medals of Science and Technology today by President Bill Clinton.
A dozen investigators won the coveted National Medal of Science, which Congress created in 1959, while four investigators and one company gained the prestigious National Medal of Technology, created in 1980. The winners' contributions "are so profound ... that these medals go only a short way to express the gratitude the nation owes them," said Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation.
Cellular biologist Lynn Margulies of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, one of two women honored with a science medal, helped win acceptance for the once controversial idea that plant and animal cells are the product of partnerships between ancient, bacterialike organisms. Atmospheric researcher Susan Solomon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an unusually young medal winner at 44, was honored for her studies of the South Polar ozone hole. Raymond Kurzweil, founder of Kurzweil Technologies, was recognized with a technology medal for his pioneering work on voice recognition, which has produced many modern aids for the visually impaired. The trio is scheduled to join the other winners at a White House awards ceremony on 14 March.
The other science winners, by field, are: Biology--David Baltimore, California Institute of Technology; and Jared Diamond, University of California, Los Angeles. Chemistry--Stuart A. Rice, The University of Chicago (UC) and John Ross, Stanford University. Economics--Robert M. Solow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Engineering--Kenneth N. Stevens, MIT. Mathematics--Felix E. Browder, Rutgers University and Ronald R. Coifman, Yale University. Physical Sciences--James W. Cronin and Leo P. Kadanoff, UC.
Other National Medal of Technology winners are: computing innovator Glen Culler, Culler Scientific Systems; Biotech industry pioneer Robert Swanson (deceased); Arpanet founding father Robert Taylor (retired); and Symbol Technologies Inc., for development of laser-read bar codes.