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Hoffman named to President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science

Darleane Hoffman
Hoffman examines her appointment letter, written by the White House calligrapher.

September 28, 2007

Chemistry professor and Professor of the Graduate School Darleane Hoffman has been named to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science.

This committee of 12 scientists and engineers is appointed by the President of the United States to evaluate the nominees for the National Medal of Science. Hoffman herself won the medal in 1997.

The National Medal of Science is the nation’s highest scientific honor. The medal was established by Congress in 1959 to be given to individuals “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences.” In 1980 Congress expanded this recognition to include the social and behavioral sciences.

Hoffman won the medal “for her discovery of primordial plutonium in nature and the symmetric spontaneous fission of heavy nuclei; for pioneering studies of elements 104, 105, and 106, and for her outstanding service to education of students in nuclear chemistry and as director of the Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science of the University of California.”

The National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science

As a member of the President’s committee, Hoffman will review all nominees for the medal and will travel to Washington, DC, to make recommendations to the President.

Hoffman has also been honored with the John V. Atanasoff Discovery Award, presented by her alma mater, Iowa State University.

Established in 2005, this award is given to an alumus/a of Iowa State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who has furthered scientific knowledge of the nation and the world. “Atanasoff was a fascinating researcher who was ahead of his time, so I am proud to receive this award,” says Hoffman.

The award recognizes the achievements of John Atanasoff, the inventor along with graduate student Clifford Berry, of the world's first electronic digital computer, built during 1937-42. The computer incorporated several major innovations in computing including the use of binary arithmetic, regenerative memory, parallel processing, and separation of memory and computing functions.

Other College of Chemistry faculty members who have received the National Medal of Science are Melvin Calvin, Harold Johnston, Yuan T. Lee, George Pimentel, Kenneth Pitzer, John Prausnitz, Glenn Seaborg, and Gabor Somorjai.

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