Since 1886, the National Academy of Sciences has honored outstanding achievement in the physical, biological, and social sciences through its awards program.


  • Video Online - Awards Ceremony
    Watch the recorded webcast of the Awards Ceremony from the 151st Annual Meeting honoring the 2014 NAS award recipients. Read More 

  • NAS Receives $1.5 Million Gift to Establish New Award in the Physical Sciences
    Research Corporation for Science Advancement has made a gift of $1.5 million to the National Academy of Sciences to establish the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery in honor of RCSA's past president John P. Schaefer. This new $100,000 prize will be given biennially to recognize an accomplishment or discovery in basic research within the past five years. The fields of science for each presentation will rotate from among chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, astronomy, physics, and materials science, with the inaugural award presented in 2015 for a recent discovery in chemistry, biochemistry, or biophysics. Read More 

Featured Award

Henry Draper Medal

The Henry Draper Medal recognizes recently published findings in astrophysical research. The medal is awarded every four years and carries with it a gold-plated bronze medal and $15,000 prize.

Henry Draper was NAS Member, medical doctor, and amateur astronomer. Draper was a pioneer of astrophotography – a specialized type of photography for recording images of astronomical objects and large areas of the night sky.  In 1873, Draper resigned from his medical career to focus solely on astronomy. He directed an expedition to photograph the 1874 transit of Venus, and was the first to photograph the Orion Nebula, on September 30, 1880. In addition to this award, a small lunar crater is also named after Henry Draper.

Pictured left to right: NAS President Ralph Cicerone, William J. Borucki and Sandra M. Faber

The Henry Draper Medal is the oldest Medal that is still presented by the National Academy of Sciences. It was first awarded in 1886 to Samuel P. Langley for “numerous investigations of a high order of merit in solar physics, and especially in the domain of radiant energy.” After receiving this award, Langley went continued to have an amazingly accomplished career in astronomy and aviation. Langley served as the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, where he founded the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Air and sea craft, facilities, a unit of solar radiation, and an award have been named in Langley's honor.

The most recent Draper Medal was presented to William J. Borucki, space scientist at the NASA Ames Research Laboratory and Science Principal Investigator for the Kepler Mission. Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of an orbiting planet.

The Draper Medal was endowed by Henry Draper’s widow in 1883.

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