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.

  • Sean Solomon, director of Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism from 1992 until 2012
    2014, to receive the nation’s highest scientific award, the National Medal of Science at a White House ceremony.
    2009, awarded the Nelson P. Jackson Award to the “The MESSENGER spacecraft flybys” by the National Space Club as principal investigator of the mission, with Peter Bedini of The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which operates the mission; received the award at the annual Goddard Memorial Dinner.
  • Christopher Field, the founding director of Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology and co-chair of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group 2
    2014, awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Climate Change and the Roger Revelle Medal from the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
    2013, awarded one of Germany’s most prestigious prizes, the Max Planck Research Prize.
    Elected to the Harvard Board of Overseers. Field, who received his bachelors in biology from Harvard in 1975, has been a pioneer in developing new approaches to understand the large-scale function of the Earth system for more than 20 years.
    2010, elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Academy, one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies, cited Field for his research in global ecology and contributions to the assessment and understanding of climate change.
    2009, awarded a prestigious Heinz award. The awards were established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz, by recognizing “extraordinary achievements of individuals in the areas of greatest importance to him.”
    Elected AAAS Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
    2007, key contributor in the UN panel sharing the Nobel Peace Prize for work on global climate change; attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and banquet in Oslo, Norway.
    2009, Douglas E. Koshland, staff scientist at the Department of Embryology, elected AAAS Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • Stephen Shectman, astronomer and instrumentation expert of the Carnegie Observatories
    2014, elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
    2008, awarded the Jackson-Gwilt Medal for his exceptional work in developing astronomical instrumentation and in constructing telescopes by the Royal Astronomical Society.
  • Richard A. Meserve, president emritus of the Carnegie Institution for Science
    2014, one of three new members elected to the Kavli Foundation’s board of directors, expanding the board from five to eight members.
    2013, awarded the Henry DeWolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award at the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington, D.C.; invited to be an “international adviser” to the Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority (JNRA). As a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Japanese government established the JNRA in order to provide independent oversight of the nuclear industry. During his time in Japan, President Meserve also gave a keynote address at a Fukushima Ministerial Conference.
    2012, elected president of the Harvard Board of Overseers for 2012-2013. The Overseers provide advice and approvals of important actions about educational policies and practices. Members are elected by Harvard and Radcliffe graduates for six-year terms. Meserve has been a member of the Board of Overseers since 2007. The article about the election appeared in the April 30, 2012, Harvard Gazette. Received the William S. Lee Award for Leadership at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) annual conference. NEI President and CEO Marvin Fertel observed, “[Meserve's] tireless contributions to the paramount issue of safety in the nuclear energy industry have been immeasurable. He’s one of the most well-respected figures in the nuclear field on any continent.
    2011, the inaugural 2011 Richard L. Garwin Award from the Federation of American Scientists for “his distinguished service and significant contributions to nuclear safety as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and for more than 30 years of leadership in science policy.” The award “reaffirms his work at the intersection of law, science, and technology.”
  • In 2013, postdoctoral fellow Rubén Rellán-Álvarez, at the Department of Plant Biology, was awarded the prestigious Marschner Young Scientist Award by the International Plant Nutrition Colloquium. The award was established for “outstanding Ph.D. students and early-career researchers with the potential to become future research leaders.”
  • In 2013, Carnegie geochemist Richard Carlson was awarded the prestigious Arthur L. Day Medal from the Geological Society of America (GSA) for “outstanding distinction in contributing to geologic knowledge through the application of physics and chemistry to the solution of geologic problems.”
  • Carnegie staff scientist Greg Asner was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013. He was one of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries elected “in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”
  • Director Emeritus Donald Brown, of Carnegie’s Department of Embryology, received the prestigious 2012 Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science “For exceptional leadership and citizenship in biomedical science–exemplified by fundamental discoveries concerning the nature of genes; and by selfless commitment to young scientists.”
  • The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has awarded astronomer and longtime Carnegie trustee, Sandra Faber, the prestigious 2012 Catherine Wolf Bruce Gold Medal for her lifetime achievements in astronomy.
  • In 2012, Geochemist Richard Carlson of Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism was elected a member tof the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He was among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates of one the most prestigious honorary societies in the country.
  • In 2012, The American Society for Plant Biology (ASPB) awarded Wolf B. Frommer, director of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, the Lawrence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology Research for “his major contributions in the development of fundamental tools and technologies essential for breakthrough discoveries that advance our understanding of glucose, sucrose, ammonium, amino acid, and nucleotide transport in plants.”
  • Carnegie’s educational outreach program, BioEYES, was the recipient of the 2012 Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Prize from the Society for Developmental Biology. BioEYES founders Steve Farber and Jamie Shuda (University of Pennsylvania), accepted the award at the annual meeting of the society in Montreal.
  • In 2012, Carnegie Institution for Science president Richard A. Meserve was elected a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He was elected in the section covering the fields of radiation safety, energy development, and environmental protection. The Russian Academy has approximately 250 Foreign Members.
  • Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory’s Timothy Strobel was given the prestigious Jamieson Award on September 26, 2011, from the International Association for the Advancement of High Pressure Science and Technology in Mumbai, India. The Jamieson Award is given to a scientist who has just completed outstanding PhD thesis research or to an exceptional postdoctoral researcher. Strobel’s research focuses on developing new hydrogen-based materials to meet our country’s energy challenges.
  • Paul Butler of Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) was elected in 2010 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his discovery of more than half of the known planets orbiting nearby stars.
  • On Monday, April 4, 2011, Tufts University School of Engineering presented Richard A. Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution and a Tufts University alumnus, the first Vannevar Bush Dean’s Medal. The award includes a commemorative medal and plaque, and a public lecture.
  • Carnegie biogeochemist Marilyn Fogel, developmental biologist Marnie Halpern, and astronomer Stella Kafka were selected from over 500 applicants to be USA Science & Engineering Festival “Nifty Fifty” lecturers. According to the late Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, by the end of 2010 90% of the world's scientists and engineers will live in Asia and 80% of people trained in the advanced physical sciences in the U.S. are from abroad. This first such festival was held in Washington, D.C., to inspire interest in science.
  • In 2010, Director Emeritus of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, Winslow Briggs, was elected an Einstein Professor by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The professorship program annually awards 20 distinguished international scientists the honor.
  • Douglas E. Koshland, staff scientist at Carnegie’s Department of Embryology, was elected as one of 72 new members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for his excellence in original scientific research. Membership in the NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States.
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  • Carnegie scientists Kenneth Caldeira of the Department of Global Ecology, Yingwei Fei of the Geophysical Laboratory, and Steven Shirey of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism were elected 2010 Fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Election to Fellowship each year honors scientists who “have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences.”
  • In 2010, the Department of Energy formed a Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future as part of President Obama’s efforts to restart America’s nuclear industry that included Carnegie president Richard A. Meserve. The body is chartered to review policies to manage nuclear waste in light of the administration’s decision not to proceed with the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository program.
  • Director Emeritus of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, Winslow Briggs, was awarded the prestigious International Prize for Biology from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science at a ceremony in Tokyo November 30, 2009, held in the presence of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. Briggs is being honored for his work on light sensing by plants.
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  • Co-director of the Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE), Toby Horn, received the 2009 Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education from the American Society for Cell Biology at their December meeting.
  • In 2009, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded the Carnegie Institution a $4 million grant over three years to initiate the Deep Carbon Observatory -- an international, decade-long project to investigate the nature of carbon in Earth's deep interior.
  • The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation awarded the 2009 Cosmology Prize to Carnegie’s Wendy Freedman; Robert Kennicutt of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge; and Jeremy Mould at the University of Melbourne School of Physics. The prize is for their work defining the Hubble constant—the rate at which the universe is expanding.
  • Geochemist Richard Carlson of Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism was elected a 2009 fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He was among 210 new fellows and 19 foreign honorary members of one of the most prestigious honorary societies in the country.
  • Rolling Stone magazine ranked Global Ecology's Ken Caldeira number 36 among 100 "artists and leaders, policymakers, writers, thinkers, scientists and provocateurs who are fighting every day to show us what is possible." The RS100 list of "Agents of Change", the editors write, is "not necessarily about power in the old-fashioned sense, but about the power of ideas, the power of innovation, the power of making people think and making them move."
  • Carnegie trustee Sandra Faber received the 2009 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science from the Franklin Institute for "extraordinary advances in our knowledge of the properties of distant galaxies, dark matter, large scale structure of the universe, and black holes in galactic nuclei; and for innovative leadership in the development of astronomical facilities."
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science awarded the 2008 Philip Hauge Abelson Award to Richard A. Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution, for “advancing and promoting the use of science in the service of the public interest, and for exceptional contributions to the institutions [he has] served, to the scientific community at large, and to the general public, both in the U. S. and abroad.
  • Donald D. Brown, of Carnegie’s Department of Embryology, received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Developmental Biology. The award is given to “a senior developmental biologist in recognition of her/his outstanding and sustained contributions in the field…[and]for the individual's excellence in research and for being a superb mentor who has helped train the next generation of exceptional scientists.”
  • Douglas E. Koshland, staff scientist at Carnegie’s Department of Embryology, was elected one of 72 Fellows by the American Academy of Microbiology. Fellows are annually elected “through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.”
  • Joseph A. Berry, of the Department of Global Ecology, has been elected a 2009 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). He is one of 54 2009 Fellows—only 0.1% of the members are elected annually.
  • The National Academy of Sciences awarded Arthur Grossman, of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology, the 2009 Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal “in recognition of excellence in published research on marine or freshwater algae.”
  • The International Association for the Advancement of High Pressure Science and Technology awarded Carnegie’s Russell Hemley, director of the Geophysical Laboratory, the 2009 Bridgman Award.
  • Dr. George W. Preston of the Carnegie Observatories was selected by the American Astronomical Society to be the 2009 recipient of its highest distinction: the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship. The Russell Lectureship is awarded each year in recognition of a lifetime of excellence in astronomical research.
  • 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 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 scientist Ken Caldeira of the Department of Global Ecology was a key contributor in the UN panel sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for work on global climate change.
  • 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.