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


  • Call for Nominations: 2015 NAS Awards
    Nominations are now being accepted for the awards to be presented in 2015. Nominations must be submitted via our online nomination form at Nominations will be accepted until 11:59 pm EDT, Wednesday, October 1, 2014. Read More »

  • 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

Mary Clark Thompson Medal

The Mary Clark Thompson Medal honors important services to geology and paleontology.

The first Mary Clark Thompson Medal was presented in 1921 to paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott. Walcott was president of the NAS from 1917-1923. He made large contributions to stratigraphy by linking fossils to particular layers of rock. His most important discovery was of the well preserved fossils located in the Burgess Shale of Canada that painted a picture of early life on Earth.

Andrew H. Knoll

The most recent Mary Clark Thompson Medal was presented in 2012 to Andrew H. Knoll, Fisher Professor of Natural History at Harvard University, for “unparalleled contributions relating Precambrian life to Earth’s physical and chemical history and for innovative contributions on the paleophysiology and evolution of algae and land plants.” Knoll is best known for his contributions to Precambrian paleontology and biogeochemistry. He has discovered microfossil records of early life around the world, and was among the first to apply principles of taphonomy and paleoecology to their interpretation. Knoll and colleagues authored the first paper to demonstrate strong stratigraphic variation in the carbon isotopic composition of carbonates and organic matter preserved in Neoproterozoic (1000-542 million years ago) sedimentary rocks, and Knoll’s group also demonstrated that mid-Proterozoic carbonates display little isotopic variation through time, in contrast to both older and younger successions.

Established in 1919 by a gift from Mary Clark Thompson, this medal is presented every three years with a $15,000 prize. Scheduled for presentation in 2015.

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