College Alumni to Receive National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation

University of Maryland alumni Simon Levin (Ph.D. ’64, mathematics) and Robert Fischell (M.S. ’53, physics) will receive the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation, respectively, at a White House ceremony in early 2016. These honors are the nation’s highest for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology.

“Science and technology are fundamental to solving some of our Nation’s biggest challenges,” President Obama said. “The knowledge produced by these Americans today will carry our country’s legacy of innovation forward and continue to help countless others around the world. Their work is a testament to American ingenuity.”

Simon LevinLevin, Princeton University's George M. Moffett Professor of Biology and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, focuses his research on complexity, particularly how large-scale patterns—such as at the ecosystem level—are maintained by small-scale behavioral and evolutionary factors at the level of individual organisms. His work uses observational data and mathematical models to explore topics such as biological diversity, the evolution of structure and organization, and the management of public goods and shared resources. While primarily related to ecology, Levin's work also has analyzed conservation, financial and economic systems, and the dynamics of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance. Levin is a member of numerous national and international honorary societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

"One never expects such things, which makes them all the more gratifying when they do come," Levin said. "For me, this recognition is the epitome. What could be better than recognition in one's own country and from one's own country? Princeton has been a wonderful environment that has given me unlimited opportunity to pursue the research that the medal rewards."

Robert FischellFischell is a professor of the practice in the University of Maryland's Fischell Department of Bioengineering. Fischell has had two pioneering careers: one inventing lifesaving medical devices and another helping to create the modern era of space satellites critical to communications, entertainment, business and national security. Fischell holds more than 200 patents, including nearly 30 patents on orbiting spacecraft. In the medical device realm, Fischell has been a leading contributor to the invention of coronary stents, the implantable heart defibrillator, the implantable insulin pump, a device to prevent migraine headaches and a device to prevent death from heart attacks. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and has received numerous awards and recognitions including induction into the Space Technology Hall of Fame.

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. The President receives nominations from a committee of Presidential appointees based on their extraordinary knowledge in and contributions to chemistry, engineering, computing, mathematics, and the biological, behavioral/social, and physical sciences.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980 and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office. The award recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the Nation’s technological workforce. A distinguished independent committee representing the private and public sectors submits recommendations to the President.

Media Relations Contact: Abby Robinson, 301-405-5845, abbyr@umd.edu

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About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 7,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $150 million.

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and nine interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.