Jimmy Carter photo

National Medal of Science Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony.

November 22, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. In 1959 the Congress established this program, the Medal of Science Awards, to recognize outstanding achievement in the sciences and in engineering.

The first awards were given in 1962 by President Kennedy--I think just one award--and since that time every President each year has recognized the outstanding scientists in the physical sciences, the social sciences, biological sciences, and in engineering for the previous year.

I'm particularly grateful, having had some engineering background, some scientific background, in business, agriculture, politics, 'to come here as President this morning to express the appreciation of our Nation for the tremendous present and past and future contribution that you distinguished Americans have earned.

Most of you have performed so superbly because of a dedication to your own profession--probably most without any thought that you might ultimately be honored for it, except in a contribution to a better life for the people of this country and for those around the world.

As I've looked down the list of those who are being honored today, the breadth of the interests that you have shown and the broad scope of the contributions that you've made is quite remarkable.

As President, I now have the responsibility to prepare the national budget presentation to Congress, after consultation with Frank Press. He's my Science and Technology Adviser. We were impressed with some of the problems that we have.

The quality of scientific equipment has been falling off rapidly in recent years. The number of top-ranked research centers has been falling off in recent years. The percentage of faculty members who are scientists and who are also young has been falling off rapidly in recent years.

In 1968, about 45 percent of the faculty members were young men and women. Now that's dropped off to only about 25 percent, which shows that in the future we have a problem on our hands unless we take strong action to correct these trends.

I'm assessing each individual agency's budget these days. This afternoon I will have three major agencies to assess. In many instances the heads of those agencies, the Cabinet members and others, have relegated research and development to a fairly low position of priority. But I directed the Office of Management and Budget to boost those research and development items much higher, and they will be funded accordingly.

Finally, I'd like to say that we want to make sure that the climate for research and development in our country is enhanced, with my own imprimatur of approval and interest, with a broad-scale exhibition of interest on numerous occasions by the Members of Congress and my own administration, with publicity accruing to those who have achieved notably in the scientific and engineering field and also in direct budget allocations.

We are not trying to establish nor to maintain a college aid program. I think to the extent that basic research and development commitments can be oriented toward things that improve the quality of our people's lives, enhance the security of our Nation, contribute to our position in world leadership, to that extent these. allocations of funds and interests will be more readily acceptable and supported by the American people.

What we do in science in this country has a tremendous impact on the decisions made in other nations, strong and independent nations, because there is, as you know, a scientific community that is drawn together by mutuality of interest that's able to transcend obstacles that are raised by national boundaries. And the exchange of information, the consultation, mutual progress, the sharing of responsibility, even between nations like ourselves and the Soviet Union, is one that lays a basis for future peace and understanding and a sharing of a common purpose for humankind.

So, as President of the world's greatest nation, I'm very grateful this morning to participate in a small way in a ceremony. You have honored our country. We would like to present to you now these Medals of Science to recognize the tremendous contribution that you've made to our Nation. Thank you very much for letting us have this opportunity to recognize your notable achievement. Thank you.

MR. PRESS. Mr. President, the first medalist is Roger Charles Lewis Guillerain from the Salk Institute, San Diego, California, for demonstrating the presence of a new class of hormones, made in the brain, that regulate the function of the pituitary gland, thereby making possible improved diagnosis and treatment of numerous endocrine disorders.

Keith R. Porter, University of Colorado, for his many contributions in the use of the electron microscope, coupled with other approaches, to give us a comprehensive and unified picture of the life of cells.

Efraim Racker, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, for major contributions to the understanding of the subcellular mechanism whereby oxidative and photosynthetic energy is transformed into the specific form of chemical energy used by cells.

Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for his pioneering work on the organization of insect societies and the evolution of social behavior among insects and other animals.

Morris Cohen, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for original research in metallurgy, leading principally to a better understanding of the properties of steel. This work is serving as the basis for the development of high strength materials that are harder, more fracture-resistant, and more durable in hostile environments.

Peter C. Goldmark, formerly of CBS, now with Goldmark Communication Corporation, Connecticut, for contributions to the development of the communication sciences for education, entertainment, culture, and human service. His work in electronics and television has had widespread applications in our space program, in medicine, in our enjoyment of music, entertainment, and education in our homes.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Goldmark evolved the long-playing record, and I'm particularly grateful to you. [Laughter]--

MR. PRESS. The next award, Mr. President, is awarded posthumously. Mrs. Richard Schwab will receive the medal for her father, Erwin W. Mueller, for his invention of the field-emission microscope, the field-ion microscope, and the atom-probe microscope, which helped to resolve the atomic structures of solids. Through these inventions, man was first able to see collections of individual atoms and eventually to identify a single atom.

K. O. Friedricks, New York University, for bringing the power of modern mathematics to bear on problems of physical sciences. Professor Friedricks' work has contributed to the theory of flight. His concepts have also been used within the the context of the controlled fusion reactor program.

Hassler Whitney, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, New Jersey, for founding and bringing to maturity the discipline of differential topology. This new branch of geometry, as adopted by other scientists, has taken on great potential significance for describing the development of complicated structures, such as occur in biology.

Samuel A. Goudsmit, emeritus from Brookhaven National Laboratory, now at the University of Nevada, for the major discovery, together with George Uhlenbeck, of the electron spin as the source of a new quantum number.

Herbert S. Gutowsky, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, in recognition of pioneering studies in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, one of the most important tools developed for chemical studies in the last 25 years. Dr. Gutowsky's work has been applied to research in solids, liquids, gases, solutions, metals, and biological substances.

Frederick D. Rossini, Rice University, Houston, Texas, for contributions to basic reference knowledge in chemical thermodynamics. Professor Rossini has been one of the pioneers in the development of techniques for precision thermochemical measurement. His work has laid the groundwork for the optimal use of fossil fuels.

Verner E. Suomi, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. As a distinguished meteorologist, he has provided a new view of the dynamics of our atmosphere which already has brought substantial benefits to the people of this Nation and the world. Dr. Suomi has been a major driving force in the application of space systems for improved weather service to the public.

Henry Taube, Stanford University, Stanford, California, in recognition of contributions to the understanding of reactivity and reaction mechanisms in inorganic chemistry. His recent work contributes to our understanding of the mechanism of nitrogen fixation and of the chemical processes important to fuel cells and energy storage.

The last award is George E. Uhlenbeck of the Rockefeller University, New York, for the major discovery, together with Samuel Goudsmit, of the electron spin as a source of a new quantum number. His long career as a scientist and superb science teacher has brought him worldwide recognition.

THE PRESIDENT. Frank, you might explain how the recipients were chosen.

MR. PRESS. The recipients were chosen by a committee of Presidential appointees. I was a member of that committee. We deliberated for several months. We solicited nominations from all over the country, from institutions, professional societies. And from a list of several hundred, we selected these 15 outstanding gentlemen from all fields of science, from all parts of the country.

THE PRESIDENT. This is the first experimental pressing of a long-playing record. Although I won't play this one, I will be listening to another one. [Laughter]

I know all of you appreciate what these wonderful men have done. And I think they would be worthy of a rising round of applause.

Note: The President spoke at 10 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building.

Jimmy Carter, National Medal of Science Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242845

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