Three Southland scientists were among 20 people honored by President Joe Biden at the White House Tuesday for “exemplary achievements” in their respective scientific endeavors.
Barry Barish, a Caltech physics professor emeritus, and Shelley Taylor, a UCLA psychology professor, both received a National Medal of Science during the ceremony, while USC computer scientist and engineering professor Neil Siegel received a National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
The medals are considered the nation’s highest honors for science and technological achievement, honoring those “who have made exemplary achievements in science, technology and innovation to strengthen our nation’s well-being,” according to the White House.
“These medalists have made discoveries that enable lifesaving medical treatments, help fight the opioid epidemic, improve food security, advance accessibility, protect our democracy, and much more,” according to the White House. “Their accomplishments advance American leadership in science, technology, and innovation, and their work inspires the next generation of American minds.”
Barish won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017 for his work on the detection and observation of gravitational waves.
Taylor was inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2009. Her work has focused on social cognition and health psychology, including “the psychological and social origins and moderators of biological responses to stress,” according to UCLA.
Siegel, a renowned computer scientist and professor of engineering management at USC, played a key role in the development of multiple defense and other tactical systems for the U.S. military. His work also played a major part in the development of GPS and other technology used in modern smartphones. He was inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2005.