Accomplishments and Awards

For over one hundred years, Carnegie science has benefited humankind directly and indirectly in countless way. Among the more widely-known of the institution's accomplishments and awards are the following:

  • Edwin Hubble, who revolutionized astronomy with his discovery that the universe is expanding and that there are galaxies other than our own Milky Way;
  • Charles Richter, who created the earthquake measurement scale;
  • Barbara McClintock, who won the Nobel Prize for her early work on patterns of genetic inheritance;
  • Alfred Hershey, who won the Nobel Prize for determining that DNA, not protein, harbors the genetic recipe for life;
  • Vera Rubin, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Science for her work confirming the existence of dark matter in the universe; and
  • Andrew Fire, who with colleagues elsewhere opened up the world of RNA interference, for which he shared a Nobel Prize in 2006

Yet, these are only a few notable examples among many others, such as the following represented in recent news releases.

  • Christopher B. Field, director of Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology, and Douglas E. Koshland, staff scientist at the Department of Embryology, were elected AAAS Fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • Robert Hazen, senior staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, received the 2009 Distinguished Public Service Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America. Hazen researches the possible roles of minerals in the origin of life and is author of more than 300 articles and 19 books on science, history, and music.
  • Carnegie geochemist Richard Carlson received the 2008 Norman L. Bowen Award from the American Geophysical Union. Named in honor of pioneering experimental petrologist and long-time Geophysical Laboratory staff member Norman Bowen, the award is given annually for outstanding contributions to volcanology, geochemistry or petrology.
  • The National Association of Geoscience Teachers awarded the 2008 James H. Shea Award to science writer Alan Cutler at the Carnegie Institution. The Shea Award is given annually. Other winners of the Shea Award include Science magazine writer Richard Kerr, Pulitzer Prize winner John McPhee, and Stephen Jay Gould.
  • In 2008, Carnegie’s Russell Hemley, director of the institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, was elected Honoris Causa Professor for Energetics, Mechanics, Machinery, and Control Systems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The degree is awarded to the most eminent foreign scientists.
  • Allan C. Spradling, director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Embryology, was awarded the 2008 Genetics Prize by the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation in recognition of his contributions to fruit fly genomics and for “fundamental discoveries about the earliest stages of reproduction.”
  • In 2008, Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London for his “extraordinary creative impact” in high-pressure science and related technology development for over 40 years.
  • The Geochemical Society and the European Association for Geochemistry announced Bjørn Mysen, senior scientist at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory as one of seven scientists named a Geochemical Fellow for 2008.
  • The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) elected Russell Hemley, director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory, to a Corresponding Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh—Scotland’s national academy of science and letters.
  • The Royal Astronomical Society awarded Stephen Shectman of the Carnegie Observatories the 2008 Jackson-Gwilt Medal for his exceptional work in developing astronomical instrumentation and in constructing telescopes.
  • The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) awarded astrophysicist Vera Rubin, who confirmed the existence of dark matter, the 2008 Richtmyer Memorial Award.
  • Ronald Cohen of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory received the 2009 Dana Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America.
  • Greg Asner of the Department of Global Ecology was picked by Popular Science magazine as one of its annual “Brillant 10” in 2007.
  • Carnegie Department of Embryology’s Joseph G. Gall received the prestigious 2006 Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science awarded by the Lasker Foundation and shared the 2007 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, awarded annually by Columbia University to recognize outstanding contributions to basic research in the fields of biology and biochemistry.
  • Former Embryology scientist Nina Fedoroff won the National Medal of Science in 2007 and was named science advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
  • The American Philosophical Society elected Wendy Freedman, the Crawford H. Greenewalt Chair of The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution, to its membership in 2007.
  • Carnegie scientists Chris Field and Ken Caldeira of the Department of Global Ecology were key contributors in the UN panel sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for work on global climate change. Field attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and banquet in Oslo, Norway.
  • Former Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE) director Inés Cifuentes was awarded the 2007 Hispanic Heritage Award for Math and Science.
  • The Department of Plant Biology's Winslow R. Briggs, was awarded the 2007 Adolph E. Gude, Jr., Award, established by the American Society of Plant Biologists and given triennially in recognition of outstanding service to the science of plant biology.
  • In 2007 the American Geophysical Union awarded Carnegie's Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao the Inge Lehmann Medal for "outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth's mantle and core."
  • Carnegie astronomer Mark Phillips shared the 2007 Cosmology Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation for his role in discovering that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.
  • Paul Silver, a geophysicist at Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington, DC, was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.
  • The National Academy of Sciences awarded Carnegie president emerita Maxine F. Singer the Public Welfare Medal in 2007, the academy’s most prestigious honor.
  • Christopher Somerville, Director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology, shared the 2006 Balzan Prize in Plant Molecular Genetics for work having “far reaching implications for plant science at both the fundamental level and in potential applications.”
  • Russell Hemley and Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao of the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory won the Balzan Prize for 2005 in mineral physics.