United States National Medal of Science laureates

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  1. Wernher von Braun

    Wernher von Braun


    Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was a German (and later American) aerospace engineer and space architect credited with inventing the V-2 Rocket and the Saturn-V, for Nazi Germany and the United States, respectively. He was one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany, where he was also a member of the Nazi Party and the SS. Following the war he moved to the United States, where he developed the rockets that launched America's first space satellite and first series of moon missions. NASA has called him the "Father of Rocket Science".

  2. Lynn Alexander

    Lynn Alexander


    Lynn Margulis (born Lynn Petra Alexander; March 5, 1938 – November 22, 2011) was an American evolutionary theorist, taxonomist, bacteriologist, protistologist, and botanist, with advanced degrees in zoology and genetics. She was known to the public as a science author, educator, and popularizer, and recognized as the primary modern proponent for the significance of symbiosis in biological evolution. Historian Jan Sapp has noted that, "Lynn Margulis’s name is as synonymous with symbiosis as Charles Darwin’s is with evolution." In particular, Margulis transformed and fundamentally framed current understanding of the evolution of cells with nuclei – an event Ernst Mayr called "perhaps the most important and dramatic event in the history of life" – by proposing it to have been the result of symbiotic mergers of bacteria. Margulis was also the co-developer of Gaia theory with the British chemist James Lovelock, proposing that the Earth functions as a single self-regulating system, and was the principal defender and promulgater of the five kingdom classification of Robert Whittaker.

  3. B. F. Skinner

    B. F. Skinner


    Burrhus Frederic (B. F.) Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990) was an American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974.

  4. Milton Friedman

    Milton Friedman


    Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and the complexity of stabilization policy. With George Stigler and others, Friedman was among the intellectual leaders of the second generation of Chicago price theory, a methodological movement at the University of Chicago's Department of Economics, Law School, and Graduate School of Business from the 1940s onward. Several students and young professors that were recruited or mentored by Friedman at Chicago went on to become leading economists; they include Gary Becker, Robert Fogel, Ronald Coase, and Robert Lucas, Jr..

  5. Barbara McClintock

    Barbara McClintock


    Barbara McClintock (born May 6, 1955) is an American illustrator and author of children's books.

  6. Jared Diamond

    Jared Diamond


    Jared Mason Diamond (born September 10, 1937) is an American scientist and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee (1991), Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997, awarded a Pulitzer Prize), Collapse (2005) and The World Until Yesterday (2012). Originally trained in physiology, Diamond is known for drawing from a variety of fields, including anthropology, ecology, geography and evolutionary biology. As of 2013, he is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles.

  7. Rita Levi-Montalcini

    Rita Levi-Montalcini


    Rita Levi-Montalcini (22 April 1909 – 30 December 2012) was an Italian Nobel Laureate honored for her work in neurobiology. She was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with colleague Stanley Cohen for the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF). From 2001 until her death, she also served in the Italian Senate as a Senator for Life.

  8. Albert Sabin

    Albert Sabin


    Albert Bruce Sabin (August 26, 1906 Białystok – March 3, 1993) was a Jewish-American (also Polish-American) medical researcher best known for having developed an oral polio vaccine.

  9. Alberto Calderón

    Alberto Calderón


    Alberto Pedro Calderón (1920 -1998) was one of the leading mathematicians of the 20th century. He was born in Mendoza, Argentina. His name is associated with the University of Buenos Aires, but first and foremost with the University of Chicago, where Calderón and his mentor, the distinguished analyst Antoni Zygmund, started one of the longest (more than 30 years) and most spectacular collaborations in mathematical history. Together they developed the ground-breaking theory of singular integral operators, thus creating the "Chicago School of (hard) Analysis" (sometimes simply known as the "Calderón-Zygmund School"); this has been one of the most influential movements in pure mathematics, but with remarkable applications to science and engineering as well. Calderón’s work, characterized by great originality, elegance and power reshaped the landscape of mathematical analysis and ranged over a wide variety of topics: from singular integral operators to partial differential equations, from interpolation theory to Cauchy integrals on Lipschitz curves, from ergodic theory to inverse problems in electrical prospection. Calderón’s work has also had a powerful impact on practical applications such as signal processing, geophysics, tomography and other areas as well.

  10. Igor Sikorsky

    Igor Sikorsky


    Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky (Russian: И́горь Ива́нович Сико́рский ; Ígor' Ivánovič Sikórskij; May 25, 1889 – October 26, 1972), was a Russian American aviation pioneer in both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He designed and flew the world's first multi-engine fixed-wing aircraft, the Russky Vityaz in 1913, and the first airliner, Ilya Muromets, in 1914.

  11. Yoichiro Nambu

    Yoichiro Nambu


    Yoichiro Nambu (南部 陽一郎 Nambu Yōichirō, born January 18, 1921) is a Japanese-born American physicist, currently a professor at the University of Chicago. Known for his contributions to the field of theoretical physics, he was awarded a one-half share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2008 for the discovery in 1960 of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics, related at first to the strong interaction's chiral symmetry and later to the electroweak interaction and Higgs mechanism. The other half share was split equally between Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa "for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature."

  12. David J. Wineland

    David J. Wineland


    David Jeffrey Wineland (born February 24, 1944) is an American Nobel-laureate physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) physics laboratory. His work has included advances in optics, specifically laser cooling trapped ions and using ions for quantum computing operations. He was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Serge Haroche, for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."

  13. Arthur Kornberg

    Arthur Kornberg


    Arthur Kornberg (March 3, 1918 – October 26, 2007) was an American biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his discovery of "the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)" together with Dr. Severo Ochoa of New York University. He was also awarded the Paul-Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in 1951, L.H.D. degree from Yeshiva University in 1962, as well as National Medal of Science in 1979.

  14. Bernard Brodie (military strategist)

    Bernard Brodie (military strategist)


    Bernard Brodie (May 20, 1910 – November 24, 1978) was an American military strategist well known for establishing the basics of nuclear strategy. Known as "the American Clausewitz," and "the original nuclear strategist," he was an initial architect of nuclear deterrence strategy and tried to ascertain the role and value of nuclear weapons after their creation.

  15. Carl Woese

    Carl Woese


    Carl Richard Woese (/ˈwz/; July 15, 1928 – December 30, 2012) was an American microbiologist and biophysicist. Woese is famous for defining the Archaea (a new domain or kingdom of life) in 1977 by phylogenetic taxonomy of 16S ribosomal RNA, a technique pioneered by Woese which revolutionized the discipline of microbiology. He was also the originator of the RNA world hypothesis in 1967, although not by that name. He held the Stanley O. Ikenberry Chair and was professor of microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

  16. Chen Ning Yang

    Chen Ning Yang


    Chen-Ning Franklin Yang (born October 1, 1922), also known as Yang Jhenning, is a Chinese-born American physicist who works on statistical mechanics and particle physics. He and Tsung-dao Lee received the 1957 Nobel prize in physics for their work on parity nonconservation of weak interaction. The two proved experimentally that one of the basic quantum-mechanics laws, the conservation of parity, is violated in the so-called weak nuclear reactions, those nuclear processes that result in the emission of beta or alpha particles.

  17. Robert Noyce

    Robert Noyce


    Robert Norton Noyce (December 12, 1927 – June 3, 1990), nicknamed "the Mayor of Silicon Valley," co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel Corporation in 1968. He is also credited (along with Jack Kilby) with the realization of the first integrated circuit or microchip which fueled the personal computer revolution and gave Silicon Valley its name.

  18. Chien-Shiung Wu

    Chien-Shiung Wu


    Chien-Shiung Wu (simplified Chinese: 吴健雄; traditional Chinese: 吳健雄; pinyin: Wú Jiànxióng, May 31, 1912 – February 16, 1997) was a Chinese American experimental physicist who made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium metal into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. She is best known for conducting the Wu experiment, which contradicted the hypothetical law of conservation of parity. This discovery resulted in her colleagues Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang winning the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics, and also earned Wu the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978. Her expertise in experimental physics evoked comparisons to Marie Curie. Her nicknames include "the First Lady of Physics", "the Chinese Madame Curie", and the "Queen of Nuclear Research".

  19. Darleane C. Hoffman

    Darleane C. Hoffman


    Darleane C. Hoffman (born November 8, 1926) is an American nuclear chemist who was among the researchers who confirmed the existence of Seaborgium, element 106. She is a faculty senior scientist in the Nuclear Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and a professor in the graduate school at UC Berkeley.

  20. Bernard Brodie (biochemist)

    Bernard Brodie (biochemist)


    Bernard Beryl Brodie (1907 – 1989), a leading researcher on drug therapy, is considered by many to be the founder of modern pharmacology and brought the field to prominence in the 1940s and 1950s. He was a major figure in the field of drug metabolism, the study of how drugs interact in the body and how they are absorbed. A member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Brodie was a founder and former chief of the Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology at the National Heart Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

  21. Kurt Gödel

    Kurt Gödel


    Kurt Friedrich Gödel (/ˈkɜrt ɡɜrdəl/; April 28, 1906 – January 14, 1978) was an Austrian, and later American, logician, mathematician, and philosopher. Considered with Aristotle and Gottlob Frege to be one of the most significant logicians in history, Gödel made an immense impact upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when others such as Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead, and David Hilbert were pioneering the use of logic and set theory to understand the foundations of mathematics.

  22. Michael E. DeBakey

    Michael E. DeBakey


    Michael Ellis DeBakey (September 7, 1908 – July 11, 2008) was a world-renowned Lebanese American cardiac surgeon, one of the hardest operations innovator, scientist, medical educator, and international medical statesman. DeBakey was the chancellor emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, director of The Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, and senior attending surgeon of The Methodist Hospital in Houston. He is known for his work on the treatment of heart patients and for his role in the development of the mobile army surgical hospital.

  23. Har Gobind Khorana

    Har Gobind Khorana


    Har Gobind Khorana, also called Hargobind Khorana, (January 9, 1922 – November 9, 2011) was an Indian-American biochemist who shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley for research that helped to show how the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell, control the cell’s synthesis of proteins. Khorana and Nirenberg were also awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in the same year.

  24. Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao

    Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao


    Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, FRS known as C R Rao (born 10 September 1920) is an Indian-born, naturalized American, mathematician and statistician. He is currently professor emeritus at Penn State University and Research Professor at the University at Buffalo. Rao has been honoured by numerous colloquia, honorary degrees, and festschrifts and was awarded the US National Medal of Science in 2002. The American Statistical Association has described him as "a living legend whose work has influenced not just statistics, but has had far reaching implications for fields as varied as economics, genetics, anthropology, geology, national planning, demography, biometry, and medicine." The Times of India listed Rao as one of the top 10 Indian scientists of all time. Dr. Rao is also a Senior Policy and Statistics advisor for the Indian Heart Association non-profit focused on raising South Asian cardiovascular disease awareness.

  25. Jack Kilby

    Jack Kilby


    Jack St. Clair Kilby (November 8, 1923 – June 20, 2005) was an American electrical engineer who took part (along with Robert Noyce) in the realization of the first integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments (TI) in 1958. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics on December 10, 2000. To congratulate him, US President Bill Clinton wrote, "You can take pride in the knowledge that your work will help to improve lives for generations to come."

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