AMHERST, Mass. - President Clinton today named Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, one of 12 winners of the 1999 National Medal of Science.
The National Medal of Science honors the discoveries and lifetime achievements of the nation''s top scientists. Margulis is being cited for "outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure and evolution of living cells, and for extraordinary abilities as a teacher and communicator of science to the public."
Chancellor David K. Scott said: "With the rapid expansion of knowledge and the concomitant specialization, it has become harder to find scholars who cross the boundaries of major fields of knowledge. "Professor Margulis is a stellar example of such transdisciplinary intellectuals, making her one of the most respected scientists in the United States, and in the world. A National Medal of Science is an appropriate honor for her many contributions. We are fortunate to have her as a member of the University community."
The new medalists are the last to be named in the 20th century. They will receive their medals on March 14 at the White House, along with five awardees of the National Medal of Technology. Margulis is the third UMass faculty member to win the National Medal of Science.
Vladimir Haensel, professor emeritus of chemical engineering, was awarded the medal in 1973. The late Marshall H. Stone, of the department of mathematics and statistics, received the medal in 1983.
"In addition to her renown as a biologist, Professor Margulis has been devoted to bringing scientific thought to the general public, particularly through her books, which cover an impressive range of scientific topics," said Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Cora Marrett. "It is this sort of outreach that is part of the mission of a land-grant university, and which exemplifies the spirit of the National Medal of Science."
Margulis is internationally known for her research on the evolution of eukaryotic cells - cells that have a nucleus. She is a leading proponent of the idea that the merger of previously independent organisms (a process called "symbiogenesis") is of great importance to evolutionary change. "Life does not merely ''adapt''; life - with ''will to power'' - configures its own environment," Margulis says.
She has also worked to support the Gaia theory, the idea that the Earth''s temperature and chemical composition are actively regulated as a consequence of the metabolism, growth, death, and evolution of interacting organisms.
UMass Professor to Receive National Medal of Science, page two An energetic popularizer of science and spokesperson for environmental issues, Margulis has written many books on a wide range of scientific topics, including "Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors," "What is Life?" and "Essays on Gaia, Symbiosis, and Evolution" (co-authored with her science writer collaborator and son, Dorion Sagan); and "Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth" (with co-author Karlene V. Schwartz).
The National Medal of Science was established by Congress in 1959 and is administered by the National Science Foundation. It honors contributions by outstanding individuals who have significantly advanced knowledge in physics, biology, mathematics, engineering, sociology, and other behavioral sciences. Counting the medalists named today, there have been 374 medals bestowed on leading U.S. scientists and engineers.
The President''s Committee on the National Medal of Science reviews nominations. "The contributions of these scientists are so profound, so connected to our everyday lives and so lasting that these medals go only a short way to express the gratitude the nation owes them," said Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The other 1999 National Medal of Science awardees are: David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology; Robert M. Solow, professor emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Kenneth Stevens, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Stuart A. Rice, Leo P. Kadanoff, and James W. Cronin of the University of Chicago; Jared Diamond of the University of California at Los Angeles; John Ross of Stanford University; Susan Solomon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Felix E. Browder of Rutgers University; and Ronald R. Coifman of Yale University.
Margulis is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is one of just three U.S. scientists elected to the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., announced in 1998 that it plans to permanently archive her papers.
Margulis received her bachelor''s degree in liberal arts from the University of Chicago, her master''s degree in genetics and zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her doctorate in genetics from the University of California Berkeley. She joined the UMass faculty in 1988 and holds several honorary doctor of science degrees.