Physicist Neal Lane Receives 2013 Vannevar Bush Award
Rice University professor served as presidential science adviser in the Clinton Administration
"Among the hallmarks of Neal's NSF directorship was the recognition that scientists must be an integral part of, rather than standing apart from, the civic life of our nation and have the willingness to be a vocal advocate for their position," said Dan E. Arvizu, NSB chairman. "He spoke publicly and wrote widely about the need for researchers to engage in a dialogue with the broader public, the majority of whom seldom have any interaction with scientists, about the centrality of science--and engineering and mathematics--to the functioning of modern society.
"As Neal once wrote in the American Association for the Advancement of Science Yearbook, citing Einstein as a prior advocate of the position he was espousing, 'While there is great need for the public to have a better understanding of science, and we should promote this in every way possible, there is as great a need for scientists to have a better understanding of the public.'"
Neal concluded the piece to which Arvizu referred by saying, "In the final analysis, this larger engagement does not mean a focused or fixed research agenda. It does mean openness to new research challenges and unprecedented partnerships among diverse fields and interests. It does mean a commitment to effective communication of knowledge, and connections between discovery and the use of new knowledge in service to society. And it especially means placing a high priority on education and learning for all youngsters wherever they begin their lives."
Prior to becoming the NSF director, Lane was a professor of physics at Rice University and Provost, a position he had held since 1986.
In 1966, he joined Rice's physics department as an assistant professor. In 1972, he became a professor of physics and space physics and astronomy. He left Rice in mid-1984 to serve as chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs until 1986.
From 1979 to 1980, while on leave from Rice, he worked at NSF as Director of the Division of Physics. Lane received his bachelor's and master's degrees in physics at the University of Oklahoma. He was awarded a doctorate in physics from that institution in 1964.
Lane is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Women in Science. He has been awarded more than a dozen honorary degrees and received several other honors, including, in 2009, the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, the American Institute of Physics K.T. Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics, and the Association of Rice Alumni Gold Medal for service to Rice University. In 2011, he received the Distinguished Friend of Science Award from the Southeastern Universities Research Association.
Each year, the National Science Board presents the Vannevar Bush Award to exceptional, lifelong leaders in science and technology who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the nation through public service activities in science, technology and public policy.
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