President Barack Obama recently named three Berkeley faculty members — one posthumously — as recipients of the National Medal of Science Award for their outstanding contributions to science and engineering. The annual Presidential award, which is administered by the National Science Foundation, has been granted to 487 scientists and engineers since its inception in 1959. The following three faculty members were honored along with seven other scientists throughout the nation.
- David Blackwell, former professor of Mathematics and Statistics, who died in 2010 at 91years old.
- Alexandre J. Chorin, University Professor Emeritus of Mathematics.
- Judith P. Klinman, Professor Emerita of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology.
Judith P. Klinman has made several major discoveries by studying different classes of enzymes (proteins that are catalysts in the cell) throughout the years. She and her team found a new class of proteins that contain novel organic molecules that enhance their functionality. In recent years Klinman has uncovered key properties of enzyme reactions that help explicate how they achieve their remarkably rapid rates of reaction. To her, the award validates the value of research. “The Medal has been given for curiosity-driven, basic research — an essential component of our research enterprise that is often overlooked these days,” Klinman says.
Alexandre Chorin translates math and physics data into computational information. His methods of solving equations for fluid mechanics, atmospheres, oceans and combustion systems have been used to design airplanes, engines, and heart valves. As an immigrant, Chorin is grateful for the educational and research opportunities that the United States have granted him and says that the medal “makes me feel as if I have contributed something in return.”
The awardees will attend a ceremony at the White House to receive their medals later in the year.
To learn more about the National Medal of Science Award or to nominate a distinguished scientist or engineer, visit the National Science Foundation website.