UCLA Faculty Honored as National Medal of Science Winners


Leonard Kleinrock
Leonard Kleinrock, Computer Science, 2007

For "for his fundamental contributions to the mathematical theory of modern data networks, and for the functional specification of packet switching, which is the foundation of Internet technology. His mentoring of generations of students has led to the commercialization of technologies that have transformed the world." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President George W. Bush in a White House ceremony on September 29, 2008

Leonard Kleinrock joined the UCLA faculty in 1963. The former chair of UCLA's computer science department, Kleinrock has supervised the research of 47 doctoral graduates and is the recipient of many honors and awards. In 1980, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 2003, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Press release: UCLA's Leonard Kleinrock to Receive National Medal of Science and Faculty web page

UCLA History Project: Oct. 29, 1969 (first host-to-host message)

Note about dates: While the award is technically a 2007 National Medal of Science, it was announced and presented in 2008.


Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond, Physiology, 2000

"For his exceptionally creative scholarship, including seminal research in physiology, ecology, conservation biology, and history; for his outstanding role in communicating science by explaining technical advances in widely understandable terms, and for his overwhelming dedication to science's role in building a better future." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President William Clinton in a White House (East Room) ceremony on March 14, 2000

Diamond joined the UCLA faculty in 1966 as a professor of physiology in the medical school. He is now a professor of geography in the College of Letters and Science, Social Sciences division. He received a MacArthur Foundation grant in 1985 and the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 1998 for Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.

Press release: Diamond to Receive National Medal of Science and Faculty web page

C. Kumar Patel
C. Kumar Patel, Physics, 1996

" For his fundamental contributions to quantum electronics and invention of the carbon dioxide laser, which have had significant impact on industrial, scientific, medical, and defense applications." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President Bill Clinton in a White House ceremony on July 26, 1996

A professor of physics and astronomy as well as electrical engineering, Patel served as UCLA's vice chancellor for research through 1999. His current research interests focus on experimental condensed matter, but he is still involved in the development of new laser systems.

Faculty web page

Elizabeth Neufeld
Elizabeth Neufeld, Biological Chemistry, 1994

"For her contributions to the understanding of the lysosomal storage diseases, demonstrating the strong linkage between basic and applied scientific investigation." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by Vice President Al Gore at Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, Washington, DC on Monday, December 19, 1994.

Neufeld’s research at the National Institutes of Health identified the enzyme deficiences that cause MPS. Her findings led to tests that enabled physicians to accurately diagnose the syndromes and counsel families, and paved the way for enzyme replacement therapy. Her current research focuses on the Sanfilippo syndrome type B, and exploring ways to get therapeutice enzymes or genes across the blood-brain barrier.

Faculty web page

Donald J. Cram
Donald J. Cram, Organic Chemistry, 1993

"For his pioneering research on the chemical foundations of molecular recognition; the understanding of the molecular basis of biological systems; his shaping of scientific thought and development, and guidance to generations of students." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore at a ceremony on the White House South Lawn, September 30, 1993.

Cram, like UCLA, was born in 1919. He joined the UCLA faculty in 1947 and taught chemistry, including introductory courses, literally to generations of students. Cram was the co-author of "Organic Chemistry," a well-known textbook used widely in the U.S. His work on host-guest chemistry earned him the Nobel Prize as well as the National Medal of Science.

Born in Chester, Vermont, 1919. Died in Palm Desert, California, June 17, 2001.

Biography (Dept. of Chemistry)

Richard Bernstein, Chemistry, 1989

"For his development and use of the technique of molecular beams, which have played a significant role in shaping the field of modern chemical dynamics." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President George H. W. Bush at a White House Ceremony on October 18, 1989

Bernstein joined the UCLA faculty in 1983, after a career that included applied science as well as influential posts in academia (University of Michigan, Columbia University and others). He was a pioneer in molecular beam chemistry, a discipline that has yielded great insight into the details of chemical reactions. Most early studies of chemical reactions involved gross averaging over assorted elementary processes, and Bernstein's studies enabled chemists to investigate a wide range of these processes. His death in 1990 was mourned by his UCLA colleagues as the loss of "his encouragement, advice, and optimism."

Born Long Island, New York, Oct. 31, 1923. Died Helsinki, Finland, July 8, 1990.

Based on an entry in 1994, University of California: In Memoriam.

Saul Winstein
Saul Winstein, Chemistry, 1970

" In recognition of his many innovative and perceptive contributions to the study of mechanism in organic chemical reactions." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President Richard Nixon at a White House Ceremony on May 21, 1971

Winstein earned his B.A. (1934) and his M.A. (1935) from UCLA, and his Ph.D. from Cal Tech (1938). He returned to UCLA in 1941, where he taught until 1969. His colleagues noted that "his research results started whole trends which can be identified with vast bibliographies involving many distinguished investigators the world over."

His impact as a teacher can be gauged in part by the fact that 72 students he supervised earned the Ph.D., and 86 postdoctoral fellows came from all parts of the world to collaborate with him. Among his many honors, UCLA bestowed upon him one of the first Distinguished Teaching Awards (1963), Faculty Research Lecturer (1955), and Dickson Achievement Award as a UCLA alumnus (1958). The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry named the annual Winstein lecture in his honor. In 1962, Winstein was designated the California Scientist of the Year.

Born Montreal, Canada, Oct. 8, 1912. Died Los Angeles, Nov. 23, 1969.

Based on an entry 1970: University of California In Memoriam. See also Biography (Dept. of Chemistry)

Jacob Bjerknes
Jacob Bjerknes, Meteorology, 1966

"By watching and studying maps he discovered the cyclone-making waves of the air and the climate-controlling changes of the sea." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President Lyndon Johnson at a White House ceremony on February 6, 1967

A Norwegian meteorologist, Bjerknes became famous in his twenties for his role in the discovery of the polar front in weather systems. On a visit to the U.S. in 1940, he was stranded by the German invasion of Norway. To support the war effort, he established a training school for air force weather officers at UCLA. Thus he founded UCLA's meteorology department - now known as Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. The department still honors his memory by conferring the Bjerknes Memorial Award on a promising graduate student.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Nov. 2, 1897. Died July 7, 1975.

Based on an entry in 1977, University of California: In Memoriam.

William Rubey, Geology and Geophysics, 1965

"For showing by profoundly original observations and clear physical reasoning how sand grains and mountains move and from whence the oceans come." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President Lyndon Johnson at a White House ceremony on February 10, 1966

Rubey joined the UCLA faculty in 1960. He "retired" in 1966, but was recalled to service every year until his death in 1974. His advanced topics in geology seminar dealt with major unsolved problems in earth science, such as the origin and evolution of mountain belts, the diversity of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, the growth of continents, the origin of ocean basins and of sea water, and the evolution of the terrestrial planets.

Born Moberly, Missouri, Dec. 19, 1898. Died Santa Monica, California, April 12, 1974.

Based on an entry in 1974, University of California: In Memoriam.

Julian Schwinger
Julian Schwinger, Physical Sciences, 1964

"For [his] profound work on the fundamental problems of quantum field theory, and for many contributions to and lucid expositions of nuclear physics and electrodynamics." [National Science Foundation Citation]

Presented by President Lyndon Johnson at a White House Ceremony in the East Room on February 8, 1965

Schwinger was only 17 when his first scientific papers were published; he continued to work intensively until a few days before his death. During World War II, he played a leading role on the MIT team that developed radar. After the war, he became a Harvard professor and published the monumental papers on quantum electrodynamics for which he shared the Nobel Prize with Richard Feynman and Sin-itiro Tomonga. He joined the UCLA faculty as a professor of physics in 1972. His total published work comprises over 200 papers and numerous books.

Born New York City, Feb. 12, 1918. Died July 16, 1994.

Based on an entry 1994, University of California: In Memoriam.

About the National Medal of Science

The National Medal of Science was established by Congress in 1959 as a Presidential Award 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.

(Description of the award taken from the National Science Foundation web site.)

National Medal of Science web page

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Selected Honors held by UCLA Alumni and Students