The Alan T. Waterman award medal, which features a portrait of Waterman.

The Alan T. Waterman Award


NSF honors 3 outstanding early-career researchers with the Alan T. Waterman Award

Waterman award announcement banner
Waterman award announcement banner

Credit: U.S. National Science Foundation

The U.S. National Science Foundation honored three researchers with the Alan T. Waterman Award, the nation's highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers.

The 2024 recipients: Muyinatu A. Lediju Bell, a biomedical engineer at Johns Hopkins University; Katrina G. Claw, a genetic scientist at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; and Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, an engineer working in robotics at Yale University, were recognized for their innovative approaches and leadership in their respective fields and for pushing the boundaries of science in truly novel ways.

The Waterman Award will be presented to the recipients at a ceremony during the National Science Board meeting, which will be held in Washington, D.C., on May 1. In addition to a medal, awardees will each receive $1 million over five years for research in their chosen field of science.

"These three outstanding researchers exhibit extraordinary scientific research accomplishments and stand out as leaders among their peers," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "This award recognizes their contributions and is also a vital investment in the future of science discovery and innovation, empowering the awardees to deepen their research, expand their projects, and explore new frontiers in their field. More importantly, it enables these exceptional individuals to apply their groundbreaking work for the betterment of their communities and society at large."

Muyinatu A. Lediju Bell
Johns Hopkins University

Muyinatu Bell knew at age 6 that she wanted to be a scientist. Among her earliest influences were the residents of Sesame Street, who captured her imagination by conducting "interesting experiments with colorful test tubes."

Inspired by those memories and guided by her mother and older brother, Bell is now a pioneering biomedical engineer, working in the intersection of physics, electrical and computer engineering, biomedical engineering and computer science. She has developed groundbreaking techniques that are transforming the utility of medical imaging, especially in ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging, by harnessing the power of light and sound to improve diagnostic capabilities and guide surgeries.

"My inspiration is drawn from a desire to improve disease detection, to deliver the earliest possible detection strategies as the best path to successful treatment plans, and to facilitate treatment plans that ensure the safest possible outcomes, particularly when surgery is involved," she said.

Bell, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, is best known for inventing the short-lag spatial coherence (SLSC) ultrasound beamformer, which significantly improves ultrasound image quality by reducing acoustic clutter. This invention motivated the development and refinement of the generalized contrast-to-noise ratio, a widely used metric that sets a new standard for image quality assessments. Bell has also adapted the SLSC technology to photoacoustic imaging, most recently using it to overcome problems related to skin tone bias in which melanin affects how deeply light can penetrate in photoacoustic imaging and is also responsible for generating acoustic clutter that obscures structures of interest. This technique developed by Bell benefits multiple communities, including patients with darker skin tones, women with dense breast tissue, and overweight or obese patients.

"I learned that acoustic clutter is one of the most common and detrimental ultrasound imaging artifacts," she said. "My breakthrough came when I was the first to realize that I can integrate spatial coherence functions, which contain characteristic differences between real tissue signals and acoustic clutter, and thereby deliver visual images of these differences. This visual display of the distinct differences offers improved image quality for patients underserved by ultrasound technology due to the presence of acoustic clutter. The same underlying principle applies to photoacoustic images."

Bell is a lecturer, mentor and scientific role model committed to engaging a diverse research community by serving in leadership roles on committees and programs aimed at supporting women in physics, computer science and engineering. She is the recipient of NSF awards from the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program and the Smart Health program.

The NSF CAREER award "helped to give me the confidence that I am right where I belong, living my childhood dream, and with the award, I knew I would have resources to thrive as a scientist, at least for the next five years," Bell said. "I pursued many of the bold and creative ideas I proposed. I received supplements to mentor undergraduate students. My team grew and expanded. My students and collaborators contributed new and fresh perspectives and ideas. It was an amazing accomplishment and success that seeded, bred and fertilized more success. NSF support has been very instrumental to the progression of my career as a scientist and engineer."

The Waterman Award will assist Bell in expanding her current work in new directions and pursuing other avenues, she said. "I can now purchase new equipment to start a new line of research, hire the support and administrative staff that I need as I grow my lab, hire research scientists who will help me to expand new research opportunities, hire dedicated personnel to assist with multiple tech ventures originating from my lab. The possibilities are endless."

Katrina G. Claw
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Growing up in the Navajo Nation, Katrina Claw did not know what "scientific research" meant or that it could be a career. But she understood that practices like dry farming or herbal remedies used by her family were rooted in long-established methods refined over centuries and passed down through multiple generations.

"This was the science — Indigenous Science and Traditional Knowledge — that I grew up with and are fundamental to my worldviews today," she said. "The interconnectedness of all living and non-living entities and balance are concepts that I learned as a child, and these are still concepts at the core of my research program."

Claw is a genomic scientist and leader in Indigenous science, recognized for her contributions to pharmacogenomics and for fostering cultural and bioethical research participation within Indigenous communities. As a member of the Navajo Nation, she is dedicated to collaborative and community-based genetic research that produces better science and ethically benefits all participants.

As a co-principal investigator and a past predoctoral fellow, Claw received an NSF award from the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences' Office of Multidisciplinary Activities in the Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2) program. Her project aligns with a key aim of the ER2 program, which is to foster ethical and responsible practice in science, technology, engineering and mathematics research communities. Her research program supports equity and inclusion of diverse populations in pharmacogenomic research and personalized medicine, addresses disparities in health and health care, and enhances ethical research with participation from American Indian, Alaska Native and other historically marginalized communities. She has established research partnerships with multiple American Indian, Alaskan Native and First Nations tribal communities.

Claw is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and her genomic research is at the forefront of disease treatment and prevention. She has demonstrated strong associations between nicotine metabolism and CYP2A6 gene variation in a tribally diverse Indigenous population. Claw's research further demonstrated substantial diversity in the versions of the CYP2A6 gene, which is strongly associated with nicotine metabolism, among Indigenous communities from different tribes and geographic regions. These findings suggest that diverse groups may benefit from personalized tobacco cessation treatment, guided in part by unique genetics.

"The foundation of my work is community-based participatory research, and I strive to use a culturally responsive and adaptive ethical framework that respects the principles of data sovereignty and tribal oversight," Claw said. "My overall goal is to show that community-engaged genomics research can bring about meaningful and impactful change in Indigenous communities. My research program studies pharmacogenomic variation and the cultural, ethical, legal and social implications (CELSI) of genomic research with Indigenous peoples. The past is inextricably linked to the present and the future, and the history of Native communities naturally extends my research into the ethical and social realms. Thus, my research projects involve both contemporary Indigenous peoples and Ancestors of the past."

Claw is a committed leader, mentor and contributor to national policy discussions for Indigenous communities, especially related to genetics. She is funded by the Native American Research Center for Health initiative to create a glossary of genetic terms and digital stories in Navajo. "Being awarded made me acutely aware of how my research interests and desire to work with Native communities was important, needed, and how few people from my tribal community were in the position to apply for these opportunities."

Claw is the first Waterman recipient from the Navajo Nation. "I hope that it will inspire some other young ch'ízhii budding scientists entering their first science fair competition, and I hope that my story will help others believe in themselves and move forward in careers in STEM. With the award, I'm excited to fund the community engagement and tribal capacity-building work that are so important to the future of Native peoples in science."

Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio
Yale University 

Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio has "always been drawn to math and prototyping, and the thrill of uncovering how things work," she said. "Engineering seamlessly integrates these passions."

Her multidisciplinary research approach incorporates materials science, robotics, artificial intelligence, biology and art. Her breakthrough design strategy of adaptive morphogenesis for robotics is inspired by biological adaptations, morphogenesis and evolution and extends techniques she developed to create shape-shifting and phase-changing materials. When integrated into robots, these new materials enable transformative new capabilities via unprecedented adaptive behaviors.

"Robots are traditionally mechanical assemblies designed to complete a single task in a specific context. In contrast, biological organisms adapt physiologically, behaviorally and morphologically in response to changing environmental conditions," Kramer-Bottiglio said. "My research focuses on imbuing next-generation robots with the ability to adapt and evolve like animals. I study multifunctional materials and their utility in soft-material robots capable of evolving their physical structure and corresponding behavior as they encounter new task demands or environments."

Kramer-Bottiglio developed an amphibious turtle-inspired robot with limbs made from coupled fluidic actuators and variable-stiffness materials that change between hydrodynamic flippers and load-bearing leg shapes depending on the environment. Adapting both the form and function of the robot enabled efficient movement both in water and on land, yielding energetic savings for multi-environment locomotion. With this morphing robot platform, she proved that morphological adaptation is a favorable strategy to expand the future capabilities of robots while simultaneously reducing the energy requirements to do so.

"Breaking through my own conception of what a robot is helped me realize their potential," she said. "If we discard the notion that robots must be mechanical assemblies of discrete components and instead consider them as material systems with multifunctionalities, we gain access to a host of new materials, techniques and tools that can be used to create the next generation of robots."

Kramer-Bottiglio is a mentor dedicated to broadening participation in STEM research. She is the recipient of awards from the NSF CAREER, Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future, Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation, Human-Centered Computing, and Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers programs.

"NSF has been incredibly important throughout my career, supporting my research in areas such as materials processing, soft robotics and engineering education," she said. "For instance, one NSF award supported a collaborative research project to test the hypothesis that the implementation of soft robot design experiences improves students' engineering self-efficacy and interest in engineering careers as compared to traditional robot design experiences. Through a partnership with experts in engineering education, we found evidence to support this claim. The research resulted in a new engineering design curriculum that has been sustainably integrated into an upper high school course with national dissemination. I am unsure that I would have been able to pursue such an interdisciplinary project without the support of the NSF."

The Waterman Award will enable Kramer-Bottiglio "to pursue interdisciplinary and high-risk research directions that hold the potential to unlock new capabilities for robots, enabling them to evolve on demand in response to changing tasks or environments," she said. "Robots that can evolve on demand provide a platform to study physical evolution-based optimization. How and when should a robot adapt its shape when switching between tasks or environments? What are the optimal shapes for specific tasks and environments? Can we use synthetic evolution to discover adaptation strategies that animals might use to adapt to our changing environment? Can the use of living materials in robots increase their adaptive capabilities? I hope to find out."

Events and videos

Waterman call for nominations webinar 2023
In this informational session, NSF staff members share the history of the Alan T. Waterman award, the review process, tips for submitting strong nominations, and how to use the new honorary awards nomination portal.
Credit: National Science Foundation

Additional videos

Asegun Henry Waterman Lecture: Rethinking Problems in Thermal Science and Engineering: From Atoms to Applications
Credit: U.S. National Science Foundation
In this 2023 Waterman lecture, awardee Asegun Henry of MIT discussed his lab’s research on new energy technologies and advanced fundamental understanding of heat transfer, addressing a broad range of problems. The implications of his research span from the atomic scale, through better understanding the physics of heat, to the gigawatt scale, by introducing new options for grid-level energy storage. His revolutionary approaches are advancing the fields of heat transfer and energy storage, with an ultimate goal of mitigating climate change and benefiting the future of humankind.

The Future of Earth's Forests in a Rapidly Changing Climate by William Anderegg, Ph.D.

“Show them who you are – uninterrupted: Radical possibilities for fostering identity and community in STEM Education”
What if we bridged divides that exist among government, private, academic, community, and industry sectors – valuable parts of the STEM learning ecosystem – to foster a STEM identity and community for all? In this lecture, Natalie S. King, Ph.D., shares her commitment to advancing Black girls in STEM education, explores the role of curricula and teacher diversity in promoting equity, and provides insights on how she establishes and maintains community-based programs through research-practice partnerships. King’s research is grounded in storytelling to elevate the voices of those who have been silenced, misunderstood, or misrepresented. She argues that there is hope for a promising future to broaden perspectives of what it means to do STEM, who can participate in these disciplines, and who is acknowledged as contributors. She will share concealed narratives that reflect the experiences, histories, and cultural wealth of Black and Brown teachers, children, parents, and community members as they reclaim authorship of their stories and ownership of their identities.

Waterman Lecture – ‘Trends in U.S. faculty hiring and retention from ten years of data: a study of prestige, diversity and inequality’
Credit: National Science Foundation

Waterman Lecture: Past climates inform our future
Credit: National Science Foundation

2022 Alan T. Waterman Award Distinguished Lecture: 'Falls and aging — the need for biomedical solutions to a global problem'

2022 Waterman Video


The Alan T. Waterman Award recognizes an outstanding young researcher in any field of science or engineering supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Credit: National Science Foundation
Alan T. Waterman award

The annual award is the nation's highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $1,000,000 over a five-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the science and engineering disciplines supported by the National Science Foundation at the institution of their choice. Disciplines supported by the NSF include the biological sciences, computer and information science and engineering, engineering, geosciences, mathematical and physical sciences, social, behavioral and economic sciences, and research on STEM education.

Congress established the award in August 1975 to mark NSF's 25th anniversary and to honor the agency's first director.


Nomination information

NSF seeks nominations for exceptional candidates that represent the diversity of the nation. 

Nominations for the 2024 Alan T. Waterman Award have closed. If you would like to begin planning a nomination for next year, please review the Nomination form description, Letter of reference template, and Nominations tips to help you prepare a nomination.

The Nomination tips were created by the Alan T. Waterman Awards Committee to support nominators and reference writers in their efforts to expertly showcase the talents and expertise of nominees. 

Additional information can be found in the Frequently asked questions.

Eligibility and selection criteria

NSF seeks nominations that reflect the diversity of the U.S.

  • Nominees must:
    • Be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
    • Be 40 years of age or younger OR not be more than 10 years beyond receipt of their Ph.D. by December 31st of the year they are nominated.
  • Nominees should have demonstrated exceptional individual achievements in scientific or engineering research of sufficient quality, originality, innovation and significant impact on the field to place them at the forefront of their peers.

Alan T. Waterman award committee

Candidates are reviewed by the Alan T. Waterman Award committee once the nomination call has closed. The committee then recommends the most outstanding candidate(s) to NSF's director and the National Science Board.

Terms expire May 31, 2024

Lesia L. Crumpton-Young
Texas Southern University

Myron P. Gutmann
Research Professor
Institute of Behavioral Science
University of Colorado – Boulder


James F. Kurose
Associate Chancellor of Partnership and Innovation
Distinguished Professor, Information and Computer Sciences
University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Terms expire May 31, 2025

Ana de Bettencourt-Dias
Susan Magee and Gary Clemons Professor of Chemistry, Foundation Professor
University of Nevada, Reno

Ann Quiroz Gates
AT&T Distinguished Professor, Computer Science
University of Texas - El Paso

Gary Hoover
Professor, Executive Director of the Murphy Institute
Tulane University

Margaret Leinen
Director, Scripps Institution of Oceangraphy
University of California, San Diego

William Simpson
Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Darryl N. Williams
Senior Vice President, Science and Education
The Franklin Institute

Terms expire May 31, 2026

Dr. Susan Kalisz
Research Professor
University of Tennessee

Dr. Surya Mallapragada
Associate Vice President for Research
Iowa State University

Dr. Mary Jo Ondrechen

Northeastern University

Dr. Lance C. Pérez
Dean, College of Engineering
Omar H. Heins Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Dr. Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz
University of California, Santa Cruz

Frequently asked questions

Yes. The criteria state that the nominee must be 40 years of age or younger by December 31st of the year of nomination OR within 10 years of receiving their Ph.D. by December 31st of the year of nomination.

A complete nomination includes submission of all requested information through the nomination portal and submission of all four references. The four references must be from individuals who are not from the nominee's home institution. Incomplete nominations will not be reviewed by the committee.

Yes. Please submit no more than the four required reference letters. NSF will not review more than four letters per nomination. Reference letters are limited to two pages each.

Reference letters are welcome from colleagues outside the nominee's home institution. Colleagues at the nominee's institution may not submit reference letters for the nominee.

Yes. You may nominate as many qualified candidates as you would like.

No. Self-nominations are not accepted. 

No, the person that enters the nomination cannot also be the nominee. This would be considered a self nomination and self nominations are not allowed.

Because the award includes an extramural federal grant, federal employees are not eligible to be nominees.

Yes. The nominator can be from the nominee’s home institution or another institution.

The nominee can be informed that they are being nominated. Involving the nominee in a conversation around your intention to nominate them may help strengthen the nomination by providing additional insights into their work and suggestions for letter writers. 

In general, nominations do not carry over. They will be removed from the portal at the end of the review cycle. Each year, a small number of nominees are shortlisted by the ATW Committee as “top performers”.  Nominators of top performers are notified near the time when the nomination portal opens for the following year, so that they have an opportunity to update the nomination, should they wish to do so.

Graduate advisors can be nominators or letter writers (provided that the letter writer is not at the same institution as the nominee). Keep in mind that someone may be nominated up to 10 years after their doctoral degree. It is important to have a nominator and/or letter writers that can speak to the nominee’s professional experience. The contributors to the nomination should have relevant leadership experience in the nominee’s field of research to convey the importance, impact, and context of the nominee’s work within and across their disciplinary fields.

Yes. Letter writers can be from foreign institutions. However, the letters must be written in English.

National Science Foundation staff should not submit nominations or letters of reference.

Past recipients


The Alan. T Waterman Award, Waterman Award
William Anderegg 
University of Utah

"For outstanding contributions to climate change science, particularly in advancing the understanding of the sensitivity, vulnerability, and resilience of forest ecosystems to change, and to risk analyses of forest-related climate change solutions to achieve sustainability goals.”
The Alan. T Waterman Award, Waterman Award
Asegun Henry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“For significant contributions in new energy technologies and advanced fundamental understanding of heat transfer addressing a broad range of problems that span from the atomic scale (the physics of heat conduction) to the gigawatt scale (grid-level energy storage).”
The Alan. T Waterman Award, Waterman Award
Natalie S. King 
Georgia State University

“For groundbreaking scholarship in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education that transcends disciplinary boundaries and directly impacts local and global communities, and for demonstrating exceptional research achievements with tremendous impact on the advancement of Black girls in science, the use of research-practice partnerships to drive K-12 instruction, and the increase of STEM teacher diversity.”


Photo of Alan T. Waterman Award Recipient, Daniel B. Larremore

Daniel B. Larremore
University of Colorado-Boulder

"For foundational research in computational epidemiology, combining mathematics and computation with real-world data to create powerful new models that provide concrete, innovative, and useful answers to globally important questions in the study of epidemic dynamics, including timely research on vaccination and testing strategies for combating the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Photo of 2022 Alan T. Waterman Award Recipient, Lara Thompson

Lara A. Thompson
University of the District of Columbia

“For pioneering innovations in rehabilitation engineering, discovering improved balance elicited by a vestibular prosthesis in primates with vestibular loss, and translation of basic science from her research towards engineering-based models and interventions to improve the lives of people suffering from balance, gait, and postural impairments.”

Photo of 2022 Alan T. Waterman Award Recipient, Jessica Tierney

Jessica E. Tierney
University of Arizona

"For outstanding advances in the reconstruction of past climate change and furthering the understanding of future climate change.”



Nicholas Carnes
Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy

"For original and innovative contributions that have demonstrated that working-class citizens are underrepresented in government, that this arises because of modern campaigns and party infrastructure, not a lack of qualified candidates, and that this underrepresentation influences government policy."

Melanie Matchett Wood
Harvard University

"For fundamental contributions at the interface of number theory, algebraic geometry, topology, and probability."


Photo of Emily BalskusEmily Balskus
Harvard University

"For harnessing chemistry to transform the study of microbes and microbial communities, enabling her discoveries of the impact of microbiome metabolism on host function, and her deployment of the unique chemical arsenals produced by microorganisms to produce new molecules that will enhance the quality of life and support the bioeconomy."
Photo of John Dabiri

John Dabiri
California Institute of Technology

"For seminal contributions to fluid mechanics and innovative applications thereof, including development of biology-inspired wind energy concepts, discovery of unexpected fluid dynamic connections between animal locomotion and human cardiac function, and groundbreaking studies of biological fluid mechanics in the ocean."



Mark Braverman
Princeton University, with NSF Director France Córdova

"For his manifold contributions to theoretical computer science and mathematics, including development of information complexity and applications ranging from direct sum conjecture to quantum communication; his proof of the Linial-Nisan conjecture; and major advances in computational properties of dynamical systems."

Jennifer A. Dionne
Stanford University, with NSF Director France Córdova

"For development of new materials and methods that enable real-time imaging of dynamic processes in-situ and in-vivo at the nanometer scale, and for ingenious application of these tools to analyze photocatalytic reactions, probe intercellular interactions, control the synthesis of chiral molecules, and detect bacteria at low concentrations."


2018 Alan T. Waterman awardee Kristina Olson with NSF Director France Córdova

Kristina Olson
University of Washington, with NSF Director France Córdova

"For pioneering contributions to the understanding of children's attitudes toward and identification with social groups, early prosocial behavior, the development of notions of fairness, morality, and inequality, and the emergence of social biases."


2017 Waterman Award winner Baratunde Cola, with NSF Director France Córdova

Baratunde A. Cola
Georgia Institute of Technology, with NSF Director France Córdova

"For significant contributions in the field of innovative materials and transport phenomena through carbon nanotube arrays to include the first optical rectenna, the first thermally conductive amorphous polymer, the first practical electrochemical cell for generating electricity from waste heat, and the first evidence of thermal energy conduction by surface polaritons."

2017 Waterman Award winner John Pardon, with NSF Director France Córdova

John V. Pardon
Princeton University, with NSF Director France Córdova

"For revolutionary, groundbreaking results in geometry and topology, including his resolution of the Hilbert--Smith conjecture in 3-manifold topology and his program for constructing virtual fundamental cycles on the moduli spaces of pseudo-holomorphic curves. His leadership and contributions have brought new insights to these central fields of mathematics, and have extended the power of tools of geometric analysis to solve deep problems in real and complex geometry, topology, and dynamical systems."


2016 Waterman Award winner Mircea Dincă, with NSF Director France Córdova

Mircea Dincă
MIT, with NSF Director France Córdova

"For pioneering contributions to the synthesis and understanding of molecular porous solids with unusual electronic properties, especially for creative synthetic design leading to microporous materials with high electrical conductivity and redox activity."


2015 Waterman Award winner Andrea Alù with NSB Member Vint Cerf and NSF Director France Córdova

Andrea Alù
Univ. of Texas at Austin (center), with National Science Board Member Vint Cerf (left), and NSF Director France Córdova

"For his work in metamaterial theory and design, including insightful contributions to plasmonic cloaking; effective light manipulation at the nano scale; innovative ideas in breaking time reversal symmetry leading to enhanced non-reciprocity from acoustics to microwaves and optics; and for unique contributions to metamaterials."


2014 Waterman Award winner Feng Zhang with NSF Director France Córdova

Feng Zhang
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Univ., and France Córdova, NSF Director

"For development and application of molecular technologies that enable systematic interrogation of intact biological systems through precise genomic manipulation."


2013 Waterman Award winner Mung Chiang with NSF Acting Director Cora Marrett

Mung Chiang
Princeton University, and Cora Marrett, NSF Acting Director

"For fundamental contributions to the analysis, design, and performance optimization of wireless networks."


2012 Waterman Award winner Scott Aaronson with NSF Director Subra Suresh

Scott J. Aaronson
MIT, and Subra Suresh, NSF Director

"For numerous fundamental contributions to quantum computing and theoretical computer science and for popularization of quantum information science. "

2012 Waterman Award winner Robert Wood with NSF Director Subra Suresh

Robert J. Wood
Harvard University, and Subra Suresh, NSF Director

"For his development of multi-scale, multi-material fabrication methods for automated monolithic assembly of high performance, innovative robots, and for his outreach efforts to make science and engineering accessible to all."


2011 Waterman Award winner Casey W. Dunn with NSF Director Subra Suresh

Casey W. Dunn
Brown University, and Subra Suresh, NSF Director

"For his gifted integration of field biology, genomics, and computational science that has led to changing our understanding of the evolutionary tree, integrating morphological and molecular perspectives on diversity, and developing new tools that are revolutionizing biology."


2010 Waterman Award winner Subhash Khot with NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr.

Subhash A. Khot
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, and Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF Director

"For unexpected and original contributions to computational complexity, notably the Unique Games Conjecture, and the resulting rich connections and consequences in optimization, computer science and mathematics."


2009 Waterman Award winner David Charbonneau with NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr.

David Charbonneau
Harvard University, and Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF Director

"For his pioneering research into the discovery and characterization of planets orbiting other stars, which has allowed, for the first time, the study of their surface conditions and atmospheres, and has revolutionized interdisciplinary research related to exoplanets."


Photo of Terance Tao, 2008 Waterman Award winner

Terence Tao
University of California, Los Angeles and Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF Director

“For his surprising and original contributions to many fields of mathematics, including number theory, differential equations, algebra, and harmonic analysis”


Photo of Peidong Yang, 2007 Waterman Award winner

Peidong Yang
University of California, Berkeley and Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF Director

“For outstanding contributions in the creative synthesis of semiconductor nanowires and their heterostructures, and innovations in nanowire-based photonics, energy conversion, and nanofluidic applications.”


Photo of Emmanuel Candes, 2006 Waterman Award winner

Emmanuel Candes
California Institute of Technology, and Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF Director

“For his research in computational mathematics and statistical estimation, with applications to signal compression and image processing.”


Photo of Dalton Conley, 2005 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Arden Bement

Dalton Conley
Center for Advanced Social Sciences Research, New York University and
Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF Director

“For his contribution to the field of sociology as a research scientist and published author exemplified by his research on how socio-economic status is transmitted across generations. He brings methodological rigor and sophistication to deep social questions.”


Photo of Kristi Anseth, 2004 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Arden Bement

Kristi Anseth
University of Colorado, Boulder and
Arden Bement,
NSF Acting Director

"For her research at the interface of biology and engineering, resulting in the design of innovative biomaterials that significantly facilitate tissue engineering and regeneration."


Photo of Angelika Amon, 2003 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Rita Colwell

Angelika Amon
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute Center for Cancer Research , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
and Rita Colwell, NSF Director

"For her seminal contributions to understanding how cells orchestrate the segregation of their chromosomes during cell division, the key process of life "


Photo of Erich D. Jarvis, 2002 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Rita Colwell

Erich D. Jarvis
Duke University Medical Center and
Rita Colwell, NSF Director

"For his use of gene expression as a tool to map brain fuctional systems and to identify parts of the brain involved in perceiving, learning and producing vocal communication"


Photo of Vahid Tarokh, 2001 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Rita Colwell

Vahid Tarokh
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
and Rita Colwell, NSF Director

"For the invention of space-time coding techniques that produce dramatic gains in the spectral efficiency of wireless digital communication systems." 


Photo of Jennifer A. Doudna, 2000 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Rita Colwell

Jennifer A. Doudna
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
and Rita Colwell, NSF Director

"For innovative research that led to the development of a technique that facilitates crystallization of large RNA molecules; for determining the crystal structures of catalytic RNA molecules and an RNA molecule that forms the ribonucleoproteincore of the signalr econgition particle; and for deciphering structural features of those molecules that permit a greater understanding of the mechanistic basis of RNA function in both catalysis and protein synthesis."


Photo of Chaitan S. Khosla, 1999 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Rita Colwell

Chaitan S. Khosla
Stanford University and
Rita Colwell, NSF Director

"For his outstanding work in elucidating the mechanisms of enzyme biocatalysis of polyketides, thereby opening an exciting potential route to new drug discovery."


Photo of Christopher C. Cummins, 1998 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Neal Lane

Dr. Christopher C. Cummins
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
Neal Lane, NSF Director

"For innovative research in transition-metal activation of small molecules, including the discovery of reactions to cleave nitrogen-nitrogen multiple bonds under mild conditions. His revolutionary approach to chemical reactivity has answered key questions and furthered development in catalyst design and nitrogen fixation."


Photo of Eric Cornell, 1997 Waterman award winner

Dr. Eric Cornell
University of Colorado at Boulder and Fellow, National Institute of Standards and Technology

"For his leading role in the creation of Bose-Einstein condensation in a gas, and for innovations in the manipulation, trapping and cooling of atoms that led to the realization of this new state of matter."


Photo of Robert M. Waymouth, 1996 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Neal Lane

Dr. Robert M. Waymouth
Stanford University
and Neal Lane, NSF Director

"For his seminal contributions to the design of well-defined organometallic catalysts for the synthesis of novel polymers, including chiral cyclopolymers and stereoblock polyolefins. The development of catalysts which change their structure as they work has established a new paradigm in the synthesis of block-polymers."


Photo of Matthew P.A. Fisher, 1995 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Neal Lane

Dr. Matthew P. A. Fisher
Institute for Theoretical Physics University of California-Santa Barbara
and Neal Lane, NSF Director

"For his broad and original contributions to the theory of the quantum dymanics of macroscopic systems and quantum phase transitions, specifically his prediction of a vortex glass phase in high temperature superconductors, his studies of the superconductor-insulator transition and is seminal work on quantum transport in Luttinger liquids."


 Photo of Gang Tian, 1994 Waterman award winner, with NSF Director Neal Lane

Dr. Gang Tian
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
New York University
and Neal Lane, NSF Director

"For his deep understanding and penetrating insights in the field of complex differential geometry, including his solution of the problem of existence of Kahler-Einstein metrics on complex surfaces, his proof that the moduli space for Kahler-Einstein metrics with zero first Chern class is nonsingular, and his proof of the stability of algebraic manifolds by using differential geometric methods."


Dr. Deborah L. Penry
University of California, Berkeley

"For her innovative applications of chemical engineering principles and chemical-reactor theory in analysis of the process of digestion in marine invertebrates, filling an important gap in existing ecological theory dealing with animals strategies for acquiring energy and nutrients. Her research is important to understanding the cycling of materials in the sea--in particular the global carbon cycle and global climate change cycles."


Dr. Shrinivas R. Kulkarni
California Institute of Technology

"For his major contributions to the understanding of diffuse interstellar medium and the physics and evolution of neutron star pulsars and x-ray binary stars. For his leading role in the discovery of fast pulsars, a major new phenomenon, and in the development of optical and radio spatial interferometry."


Dr. Herbert Edelsbrunner
University of Illinois at

"For his pioneering research in computational geometry through which he has made fundamental contributions to the theory of computer science and to discrete mathematics. His work has solved open problems, built rich theoretical structures, developed algorithmic paradigms, produced robust implementations of geometric algorithms, and brought computational geometry in close touch with application areas in computer technology."


Dr. Mark E. Davis
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
& State University

"For his pioneering work in catalytic materials, catalysis, and reaction engineering, including the first synthesis of a molecular sieve with pores larger than 1 nanometer and the invention of supported aqueous-phase catalysts; each of these accomplishments opens up a new and potentially important area in catalytic science and technology, and also has implications for separations technology and environmental control."


Dr. Richard H. Scheller
Stanford University

"For his work leading to the development of recombinant DNA technologies, and for his current research which has illuminated cellular and molecular mechanisms used to regulate animal behavior. These basic studies will lead to a better understanding of the molecular basis of brain function and should, in the future, help in the understanding of major psychiatric illnesses."


Dr. Peter G. Schultz
University of California, Berkeley

"For innovative research at the interface of chemistry and biology, both in the development of new approaches for the study of molecular recognition and catalysis and in the application of these studies to the design of selective biological catalysts."


Dr. Lawrence H. Summers
Harvard University

"For outstanding contributions to economic research on unemployment, taxation of capital, savings behavior and macroeconomic activity. His work combines powerful analytic insights and imaginative econometric methods aimed at subjects of fundamental National importance."


Dr. Edward Witten
Princeton University

"For path-opening contributions to the physics of elementary particles and gravity, to the search unification, and to the imaginative pursuit of the implications for cosmology."


Dr. Jacqueline K. Barton
Columbia University

"For her imaginative and significant work in bioinorganic chemistry. Her use of small inorganic molecules to recognize and modify DNA sites in very specific ways has led to two major discoveries--enantiomeric selectivity in binding t DNA helices of different handedness, and Z-DNA "punctuation" at the end of genes--with important implications for drug design and for the theory of gene expression."


Dr. Harvey M. Friedman
Ohio State University

"For his revitalization of the foundations of mathematics, his penetrating investigations into the Godel incompleteness phenomena, and his fundamental contributions to virtually all areas of mathematical loqic."


Dr. Corey S. Goodman
Stanford University

"For his contributions to our understanding of the development of the nervous system. His imaginative choice of model systems and modern technologies are enabling him to discover how individual nerve cells acquire their unique identities and interact with the appropriate cells during embryogenesis."


Dr. Richard Axel
Columbia University

"For devising a novel procedure for introducing virtually any gene into mammalian cells. Gene transfer now permits the analysis of the mechanisms regulating the expression of genes in an appropriate cellular environment. This information is prerequisite to a rational approach towards gene therapy."


Dr. W. Clark Still
Columbia University

"For showing that fundamental conformational principles can be used in organic synthesis to describe nonrigid molecular arrays and for the design of chemical reactions which use such arrays to control the three-dimensional structure of flexible molecules."


Dr. Roy F. Schwitters
Harvard University

"For his contributions to the understanding of the basic structure of matter through experiments that discovered and explored an entirely new collection of subatomic particles. The experiments led to the interpretation of the new particles as being composed of simpler constituents, possessing a new property of matter."


Dr. William P. Thurston
Princeton University

"In recognition of his achievements in introducing revolutionary new geometrical methods in the theory of foliations, function theory and topology."


Dr. Richard A. Muller
University of California, Berkeley

"For his original and innovative research, which has led to important discoveries and inventions in diverse areas of physics, including astrophysics, radioisotope dating and optics."


Dr. J. William Schopf
University of California, Los Angeles

"For his outstanding research on Precambrian biotas. His work on these delicate and ancient fossil microorganisms will contribute significantly to the knowledge of the origin of life and the evolution of the earliest known biotas of the world."


Dr. Charles L. Fefferman
Princeton University

"For his research in Fourier analysis, partial differential equations and several complex variables which have brought fresh insight and renewed vigor to classical areas of mathematics and contributed signally to the advancement of modern mathematical analysis."


For further information concerning the Alan T. Waterman Award program or nomination process, email or contact NSF's Office of Integrative Activities at (703) 292-8040.