Rice guys finish first
President Obama to award Rice professor with rare National Medal of Science
The Emmys might be over, but the awards keep coming for notable Houstonians.
The White House announced on Tuesday that Rice University professor Richard Tapia has been selected to receive the National Medal of Science, the highest American recognition of achievement in science and engineering.
The National Medal of Science has been given to fewer than 500 scholars in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics since 1959. When President Obama presents the award at a White House ceremony in October, Tapia and six other researchers will join the ranks of Arthur Kornberg, Kurt Gödel, John Tukey, Richard Feynman, Milton Friedman and other intellectual giants you've never heard of.
The National Medal of Science has been given to fewer than 500 scholars in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics since 1959.
Tapia, the Maxfield-Oshman University Professor in Engineering and a professor of computational and applied mathematics, has taught at Rice since 1970 and is the director of Rice’s Center for Excellence and Equity in Education. According to the White House statement, Tapia's recognition is "for his pioneering and fundamental contributions in optimization theory and numerical analysis and for his dedication and sustained efforts in fostering diversity and excellence in mathematics and science education."
"This National Medal of Science is wonderful recognition of someone who has had tremendous influence and dedication both in his field and beyond," Rice president David Leebron said. "Richard is an extraordinary scientist and a great mathematician, but he’s also had a much bigger impact on the world."
Tapia, the son of Mexican immigrants, is only the second Rice faculty member ever to receive the National Medal of Science after chemist Frederick Rossini, who received the award from President Carter in 1976.