Raven one of 12 to receive National Medal of Science

November 12, 2000

Peter H. Raven, Ph.D., Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis is one of a dozen renowned American scientists and engineers to receive the prestigious National Medal of Science. President Clinton made the announcement on Nov.13, 2000.

In announcing the year 2000 Medal of Science honorees, the president paid tribute to a group of scientific leaders who changed or set new directions in social policy, neuroscience, biology, chemistry, bioengineering, mathematics, physics, and earth and environmental sciences. "These exceptional scientists and engineers have transformed our world and enhanced our daily lives," President Clinton said. "Their imagination and ingenuity wlll continue to inspire future generations of American scientists to remain at the cutting edge of scientific discovery and technological innovation."

Raven and the others will be presented the medals at an awards dinner scheduled for December 1, 2000. The people to be honored are the first recipients of the medal in the 21st century. The group includes a Nobel Prize winner from the 1950s and another from the 1990s.

"On behalf of the Washington University community, I extend our warm and enthusiastic congratulations to Dr. Raven upon his being awarded the Medal of Science by President Clinton," said Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis. "Dr. Raven is a scientist of uncommon impact nationally and internationally, and we are proud that he is an important part of our community. He has been a dedicated and creative contributor to the development of plant science and has earned the nation's trust and admiration as one of the leading scientists of our day."

Raven, a preeminent scientist in plant systematics and evolution, has published more than 550 books and papers. Raven has become one of the world's leading authorities on plant systematics and evolution, introduced the concept of coevolution and made major contributions to international efforts to preserve biodiversity. Coevolution helped refocus much subsequent evolutionary research based on the co-adaptation between plants and animals. Raven has directed the Missouri Botanical Garden into a position of worldwide prominence as a center for the study of plant diversity.

An often-honored scientist and environmental activist, Raven has been widely recognized for his professional accomplishments. In 1999, he was named "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine for his leadership of the Garden and for his work to preserve biodiversity worldwide. Raven is a member of the President's Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology and is President-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, set to take office in 2001. He served for 12 years as Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences. He is chairman of the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration.

Raven is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the prestigious International Prize for Biology from the government of Japan; Environmental Prize of the Institut de la Vie; Volvo Environment Prize; Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement; and the Saskawa Environment Prize. He also received the Society for Conservation Biology Distinguished Service Award and Peter H. Raven Award for Scientific Outreach. He has held Guggenheim and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.

Raven came to St. Louis in 1971 after being named director of the garden and professor of biology at Washington University. He had been on the Stanford University faculty since 1962. He was named Engelmann Professor of Botany in 1975, becoming the fourth botanist so honored since the Engelmann chair was established at the University in 1885.

Joining Raven as medallists are Willis E. Lamb, Ph.D., a University of Arizona regents professor who received a 1955 Nobel Prize in Physics for his experimental work in hydrogen, and Gary Becker, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago who received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in describing the role of social forces that shape individual economic behavior.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers the National Medals of Science for the White House. Ten of the twelve science medallists this year received NSF support for portions of their academic or research careers.

In addition to Nobel laureates Becker and Lamb, Medals of Science in biological sciences will go to: Nancy Andreasen, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City; and Carl R. Woese,Ph.D., professor of microbiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

For chemistry, John D. Baldeschwieler, Ph.D., of the California Institute of Technology, and Ralph F. Hirschmann, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania are receiving the science medal. Research bioengineer Yuan-Cheng Fung, Ph.D., of the University of California at San Diego is receiving the medal for his bioengineering accomplishments.

Mathematicians John Griggs Thompson, Ph.D., of the University of Florida and Karen K. Uhlenbeck, Ph.D., of the University of Texas - Austin are receiving medals for their theoretical work. The physics recipient is Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Ph.D., of Princeton University, and Gilbert F. White, Ph.D., professor of geography at the University of Colorado, receives a medal for geophysical research.
Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick, 314-935-5272; tony_fitzpatrick@aismail.wustl.edu

Washington University in St. Louis

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