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Honorary Awards

The Office of Integrative Activities (OIA), on behalf of the Office of the NSF Director, manages and coordinates several high-profile honorary awards. OIA is responsible for administering the President's National Medal of Science and the NSF Alan T. Waterman Award. It also coordinates within NSF the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and serves as a focal point of contact for two other Presidential awards managed by the Education and Human Resources Directorate: the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The National Medal of Science, PECASE, PAESMEM, and PAEMST are vetted and approved by the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the White House.


National Medal of Science Medal

The National Medal of Science was established by the 86th 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.

A committee of 12 scientists and engineers is appointed by the President to evaluate the nominees for the award. Since its establishment, the National Medal of Science has been awarded to 449 distinguished scientists and engineers whose careers spanned decades of research and development. The National Medal of Science is the highest Presidential recognition bestowed on scientists and engineers.

National Medal of Science Video Gallery


Alan Waterman medalCongress established the Alan T. Waterman Award in August 1975 to mark the 25th Anniversary of the National Science Foundation and to honor its first director. The annual award recognizes an outstanding young researcher in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $500,000 over a three-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the Mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, social, or other sciences at the institution of the recipient's choice. The Waterman Award is the highest recognition NSF bestows on an early career scientist.

The National Science Foundation is pleased to accept nominations for the 2011 Alan T. Waterman Award. Each year, the Foundation bestows the Waterman Award to recognize the talent, creativity, and influence of a singular young researcher. Details about the Waterman award's history, the nomination procedure and the selection criteria are available below.

Nominees are accepted from any field of science or engineering that NSF supports. Nominations must be submitted electronically using NSF's FastLane system at /go.php?url= Please direct all inquiries about the award and the nomination procedures to Mayra Montrose (

2012 NSF Alan T. Waterman (ATW) Award Recipients


The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge. This Presidential award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. This award is presented by the Office of Science and Technology Policy on behalf of the White House. Seven U.S. government departments and two independent agencies participate in this program.

NSF selects its PECASE honorees from the pool of CAREER award recipients. By receiving awards through the CAREER program, NSF-nominated PECASE winners have already demonstrated their success in their field of expertise as well as in integrating research and education within the context of their organization's mission. NSF management of this program rotates among the directorates.

2011 PECASE Award Recipients


PAESMEM LogoThe Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Enacted by Congress in 1983, this program authorizes the President to bestow up to 108 awards each year. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Teachers are recognized for their contributions to teaching and learning and their ability to help students make progress in mathematics and science. In addition to honoring individual achievement, the goal of the award program is to exemplify the highest standards of mathematics and science teaching. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. This award is managed by NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources.

2011 PAEMST Award Recipients (Click here for the Recipients' Biographies page)


The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring PAESMEM honors individuals and institutions that have enhanced the participation of underrepresented groups-such as women, minorities and people with disabilities-in science, mathematics and engineering education at all levels. Each year's awardees add to the recognition of a widening network of outstanding mentors in the United States, assuring that tomorrow's scientists and engineers will better represent the nation's diverse population. The PAESMEM honorees are drawn from institutions across the country and represent a variety of professional fields. All are highly regarded mentors and have pioneered innovative and resourceful programs to broaden opportunities in science, math and engineering for underrepresented students at all levels. This award is managed by the Directorate for Education and Human Resources.

President Obama Honored Teachers and Mentors, and Announced Key Partnerships in "Educate to Innovate" Campaign

2010 and 2011 PAESMEM Award Recipients


The National Science Board established two annual honorary awards to recognize contributions to American science and to public understanding of science: the Vannevar Bush Award and the Public Service Award.

Click here to direct you to the previous Presidential Honorary Award website.

For more information about Honorary Awards at NSF, please contact Mayra N. Montrose at (703)292-4757.

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