UI Provost named head of science awards committee

By Renee Chacko

The highly regarded National Medal of Science will soon be put under University of Illinois Provost Linda Katehi’s leadership. President Bush designated Katehi last week to head the Committee of the National Medal of Science, an award that was established by President Kennedy in 1961 to honor scientists in the fields of the physical, biological, mathematical or engineering sciences.

Katehi, already a member of the committee, was designated as chair for the next three years. As chairwoman, Katehi is responsible for arranging various events for the committee through out the year and distributing nominee information to and interacting with sub-nominating committees.

“I’m very honored to be working toward awarding those who have made a tremendous contribution to the scientific community,” Katehi said. “I’ve learned a lot about people who know so much about their field.”

The National Science Foundation is responsible for gathering nominee information, which is then given to Katehi’s committee for distribution and selection.

“It’s a very humbling experience because you are rewarding individuals who have done so much for society,” Katehi said.

Katehi’s name was suggested for the chair position and, after a process clearance and approval by White House officials, she was chosen. Equivalent to the Nobel Prize in the United States, the award serves to recognize individual American scientists for their important contributions and advancement of knowledge in their fields. Katehi hopes the award will inspire students in these fields to work toward enhancing the quality of life.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to come together as a nation to recognize those who have given their lives to the advancement of their fields,” Katehi said. “It’s because of their hard work that we can live better lives, and it’s important to recognize them to encourage students and aspiring scientists.”