NAE Members Honored with National Medals

Thu, November 02, 2023

Eight members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) were named recipients of the prestigious National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation — the nation’s highest honors for science and technology. President Biden presented the medals to the honorees during an Oct. 24 ceremony at the White House. NAE Members Subra Suresh and Sheldon Weinbaum were awarded the National Medal of Science (NMS) for exemplary scientific contributions in service of the nation. NAE Members John Cioffi, Ashok Gadgil, Jeong Kim, Neil Siegel, James Fujimoto, and David Huang were awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI), which recognizes outstanding technological innovation and achievement in service of the nation.

national medals.jpgSubra Suresh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University, was awarded the National Medal of Science “for pioneering research across engineering, physical sciences, and life sciences…He has advanced the study of material science and its application to other disciplines, and his commitment to research and collaboration across borders has demonstrated how science can forge understanding and cooperation among people and nations.” Suresh was elected to the NAE in 2002 “for development of mechanical behavior theory and experiment for advanced materials and applications, and for demonstrating fruitful new avenues for structural study.” Watch Subra Suresh’s NMS laureate video here.

Sheldon Weinbaum, City College of New York, was awarded the National Medal of Science “for pathbreaking research in biomechanics. His models have driven innovation in physiology, bone biology, and blood flow, increasing our understanding of cardiovascular disease and leading to lifesaving treatments. His exceptional teaching and mentorship underscore his lifelong advocacy for diversity and inclusion, tapping into the full talents of our nation.” Weinbaum was elected to the NAE in 1996 “for contributions to viscous flow theory, gas dynamics, and mass and heat transfer in biological systems.” Watch Sheldon Weinbaum’s NMS laureate video here.

John Cioffi, Stanford University and ASSIA, was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation “for advancements that helped bring high-speed Internet to the world. The digital subscriber line that he helped invent ignited the growth of the digital age, vastly increasing people's access to information, reshaping the global economy, and transforming how we work, communicate, and find community.” Cioffi was elected to the NAE in 2001 “for contributions to the theory and practice of high-speed digital communications.” Watch John Cioffi’s NMTI laureate video here.

Ashok Gadgil, University of California Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation “for providing life-sustaining resources to communities around the world. His innovative, inexpensive technologies help meet profound needs, from drinking water to fuel-efficient cookstoves. His work is inspired by a belief in the dignity of all people and in our power to solve the great challenges of our time.” Gadgil was elected to the NAE in 2013 “for engineering solutions to the problems of potable water and energy in underdeveloped nations.” Watch Ashok Gadgil’s NMTI laureate video here.

Jeong H. Kim, Kiswe Mobile, was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation “for advances in engineering and technology that transformed how we communicate. His work on broadband optical systems, data communications, and wireless technologies have made communication faster and clearer, including improvements in battlefield communications that strengthen our national security.” Kim was elected to the NAE in 2004 “for contributions to national defense and security through improved battlefield communication.” Watch Jeong Kim’s NMTI laureate video here.

Neil Gilbert Siegel, University of Southern California, was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation “for technology that bolstered our nation's security, economy, and connectivity. His creation of the ‘digital battlefield’ represented a new approach to combat operations, integrating secure communications and precise, real-time data to minimize U.S. casualties and protect allies and civilians. Today, technologies he invented are found in smartphones everywhere." Siegel was elected to the NAE in 2005 “for the development and implementation of the digital battlefield, an integral part of U.S. Army operations.” Watch Neil Siegel’s NMTI laureate video here.

James Fujimoto, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and David Huang, Oregon Health and Science University, were awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation “for enhancing human vision. Their invention of optical coherence tomography transformed ophthalmology by providing a detailed image of the retina for the first time. Their work is now the standard of care for the detection and treatment of eye disease, giving millions a new chance to see the world.” Fujimoto was elected to the NAE in 2001 “for pioneering contributions to and commercialization of optical coherence tomography (OCT)”. Huang was elected to the NAE in 2023 “for development of multi-dimensional micron-level optical imaging technologies that revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.” Watch James Fujimoto and David Huang’s NMTI laureate video here.

Established by Congress in 1959 and administered by the National Science Foundation, the National Medal of Science is awarded to “individuals deserving of special recognition for their outstanding contributions in biology, computer sciences, education sciences, engineering, geosciences, mathematical and physical sciences, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences, in service to the nation.”

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation recognizes American innovators “whose vision, intellect, creativity, and determination have strengthened America’s economy and improved our quality of life.” Established by Congress and administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the first Medal of Technology was presented in 1985.

The full list of Medal recipients from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) may be viewed from the National Academies website.