Three UC researchers awarded national medals by President Obama
On Thursday, May 19, three UC researchers were among a select group of 17 who were awarded the nation’s top honors for science, technology and innovation in a ceremony at the White House.
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was awarded to Chenming Hu, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer sciences, for his contributions to microelectronics. His team developed the FinFET, a type of transistor used in modern computer processors. Arthur Gossard, a UCSB professor emeritus of materials and of electrical and computer engineering, also received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his work with semiconductor device technology.
In recognition of his contributions to nanoscience, the National Medal of Science was awarded to Paul Alivisatos, a UC Berkeley chemist and past director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory known for his research on the production of nanocrystals and their use in solar energy applications.
President Obama used the occasion to express his support for STEM education and research. “The real reason we do this…is to teach our young people that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl or the NCAA tournament that deserves a celebration; that we want the winners of science fairs, we want those who have invented the products and lifesaving medicines and are engineering our future to be celebrated as well. Because immersing young people in science, math, engineering — that’s what’s going to carry the American spirit of innovation through the 21st century and beyond.”
To put that goal into action, the president announced that the White House was launching a “Kid Science Advisors” campaign for young scientists and innovators to send in their suggestions for what the government should be doing to support science and technology, and inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators.
He reminded the audience that the award winners were once curious kids themselves. “Many of them came from humble or ordinary beginnings,” the president said, “But along the way, someone or something sparked their curiosity. Someone bought them their first computer. Someone introduced them to a lab. A child in their lives needed specialized medical help. And because they lived in an America that fosters curiosity, and invests in education, and values science as important to our progress, they were able to find their calling and do extraordinary things. So there are few better examples for our young people to follow than the Americans that we honor today.”