News / USA

    Obama to Honor Leading US Scientists, Innovators

    FILE - National Medals of Technology and Innovation are seen in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
    FILE - National Medals of Technology and Innovation are seen in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
    George Putic

    Each year, the president recognizes the achievements of the United States' leading scientists and innovators. At a Friday ceremony in the White House, President Barack Obama will present 17 U.S. scientists and engineers with National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation.

    Congress established the National Medal of Science as the highest award for scientific work in 1959, and the first medal was awarded in 1962. It took another 21 years for Congress to create a parallel National Medal for Technology and Innovation and another five for its first recipients. Among them were the co-founders of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak.

    All nine scientists who will receive Technology and Innovation medals this year are active or retired college professors as well as innovators.

    Robert Fischell

    One of them, Robert Fischell of the University of Maryland, has many innovations and patents in the field of biomedical technology. He is the principal inventor of the well-known flexible coronary stent that has helped over 20 million people around the world avoid bypass surgery.

    He said he felt fortunate to be awarded the medal.

    “I'm sure there are many people who aren't as lucky as I who should have gotten the award but did not," he said.

    In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to give the final approval for a newer invention, a kind of a pacemaker that can alert the heart patient of an impending heart attack.

    “It actually knows you're having a heart attack before of any symptoms and it vibrates like a cellphone," Fischell said, "and then you have an external device that flashes and goes beep-beep-beep with audio and tells you, 'You must immediately get to the hospital' — where, because you have early notice virtually every time, even though you had a heart attack, your life will be saved.”

    At age 86, Fischell is still working. With two of his sons, also scientists, he is developing a device that may relieve pain without any drugs. It is “a device that creates intense magnetic pulses onto a person,” which the researchers have found can erase human pain with no side effects and no need for narcotic analgesics.

    Reflecting on his work as a scientist, Fischell said young people should recognize the benefits of studying science.

    “The opportunity to let your life's work be helping mankind, I cannot think of a better thing to do with your life," he said. The work is "both interesting and extremely valuable, and you can never tell when a loved one might be helped by what you have worked on or invented.”

    Nancy W. Ho

    The only woman among the new recipients of the Medal of Technology and Innovation is Nancy W. Ho, a retired professor of chemical engineering. She is being honored for research done at Purdue University into innovative methods for producing ethanol from sources other than corn and other food plants.

    Ho said scientists have long known that a type of yeast could theoretically ferment sugar found in wood, straw and other plant-based materials, turning it into ethanol. But engineering the proper kind of yeast turned out to be so difficult that many scientists gave up. Not Ho.

    “Fortunately, I felt that the science should be able to solve this problem just by working hard and thinking hard. I was able to invent some new approaches and I made it work,” she said.

    Even though she is retired from teaching, her work continues through her company, refining the technology and even developing ethanol-based jet fuel.

    Ho said biotechnology has great potential for making the production of biofuels more efficient with use of cheaper and more abundant resources, especially in countries with cheaper labor.

    “I think that gradually the prices of those products in this country will come down, too, and the new technology will take a little while for the industry to pick it up," she said. "I think that more such fuel will be produced in not-so-distant future.”

    Asked about being the only woman among recipients of the Medal of Technology and Innovation, Ho said, “The society is just slowly getting used to it that women can do everything in science and technology as men. But that is progress. That is something we cannot dictate or be mad about.”

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora