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President Obama appoints Purdue Professor to National Medal of Science Committee

October 1, 2010

Dr. Joseph Francisco, the William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry, is one of four new committee members. The committee is composed of 12 presidentially appointed scientists and engineers, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The committee is responsible for evaluating nominees and selecting recipients of the National Medal of Science, an annual award given to scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the physical sciences, biological sciences, mathematics, engineering, and social and behavioral sciences.

"The National Medal of Science is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers and innovators," Francisco said. "It is our nation's expression of thanks to the men and women who have devoted decades to scientific discovery and achievement, and I am honored to serve on the committee."

Francisco, who is president of the American Chemical Society, has conducted research that has revolutionized the understanding of chemical processes in the atmosphere. He recently solved a 40-year search for an unusual molecule that is essential to the atmosphere's ability to break down pollutants and has worked with chlorofluorocarbons, mapping the pathways of these and lesser-researched compounds to understand how they break down in the atmosphere.

 Francisco also was recently elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also served as president of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers from 2005-2007.

The National Medal of Science program is administered by the National Science Foundation and was established by congress in 1959. The medal was first awarded in 1962 and has been awarded to 441 distinguished scientists and engineers.

Two Purdue professors have won the award, Albert Overhauser and Herbert C. Brown, as well as alumna Rita Colwell.

In addition to Francisco, newly appointed members of the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science include Carlos Castillo-Chavez of Arizona State University, Inez Fung of the University of California, Berkeley, and Margaret Murnane of the University of Colorado.

President Obama stated in a White House press release: "I am confident that these impressive men and women will make valued additions to this administration. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."


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