“That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. America is Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. America is Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride,” – President Obama, January 13, 2016
Today President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21 Americans, including trailblazing individuals who have made significant contributions to our country in the fields of science and technology.
In his inaugural address in 2009, President Obama promised to “restore science to its rightful place,” and over the past 8 years, the Administration has worked not only to reinvigorate the American scientific enterprise, restoring integrity to scientific policymaking, but it has also worked to inspire the next generation of innovators. From establishing the tradition of the White House Science Fair, to issuing a call for computer science education for every student, to driving access to new manufacturing capabilities and starting TechHire, to welcoming American Nobel Prize winners to the Oval Office, the Administration has looked to celebrate scientists and technologists for their achievements.
That effort includes recognizing members of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom awardees—a group of women and men who are being celebrated for their accomplishments in science and technology. The recipients include:
Today, the President also recognized Bill and Melinda Gates for their leadership through the work of their foundation to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. Additionally, he recognized basketball player Kareem Abdul Jabar, who in addition to his criminal-justice work, has been an advocate for science education – including as author of “What Color is My World: The Lost History of African-American Inventors” -- and the advancement of medical research through precision medicine; celebrated architects Maya Lin and Frank Gehry; financial leader, banker, and advocate Elouise Cobell; and renowned actor Tom Hanks, who has been a long-time advocate for space exploration.
Join OSTP in congratulating these winners and sharing their stories.
To learn more about leading figures in science and technology, including last year’s Presidential Medal of Honor awardee Katherine Johnson, check out The Untold History of Women in Science and Technology.