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


  • NAS Day Prize Lecture Series
    Richard B. Alley will present the 2015 Arthur L. Day Prize Lecture Series this fall on a variety of topics including climate change, energy, and the environment. The lectures will be held at the following locations: Kent State University (October 14), Tulane University (October 23), Wilson College (November 10), and Weber State University (December 10). Read More  

  • NAS Announces Inaugural Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Convergence Research
    The National Academy of Sciences will honor Chad A. Mirkin for impressively integrating chemistry, materials science, molecular biology, and biomedicine in the development of spherical nucleic acids and new types of nanostructures that are widely used in the rapid and automated diagnosis of infectious diseases and many other human diseases—including cancers and cardiac disease—and in the detection of drug-resistant bacteria. Mirkin’s prize will be presented at a ceremony at the NAS building on October 13, 2015. Read More  

  • 2015 NAS Awards Ceremony: Video Available
    In 2015, the NAS honored 18 individuals with awards in recognition of their extraordinary scientific achievements in a variety of fields. The winners, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, recipient of the 2015 NAS Public Welfare Medal, were honored during the National Academy of Sciences' 152nd annual meeting. Watch Video  

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson Awarded 2015 NAS Public Welfare Medal
    The National Academy of Sciences honors Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History with the Public Welfare Medal – the Academy's most prestigious award. Tyson is recognized for his extraordinary role in exciting the public about the wonders of science, from atoms to the Universe. Read More  

Featured Award

Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

The Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences (formerly the NAS Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences) is presented to honor significant advances in the psychological and cognitive sciences with important implications for formal and systematic theory in these fields.  Two prizes are presented biennially.  The prize was established by Richard C. Atkinson in 2013.

The inaugural Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences was presented in 2014 to James L. McClelland, the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences and Director, Center for Mind, Brain and Computation at Stanford University, and Elizabeth S. Spelke, the Marshall L. Berkman Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.

Pictured left to right: NAS President Ralph Cicerone, Elizabeth S. Spelke, James L. McClelland, and Michael I. Posner.

James L. McClelland was honored for his significant contributions to the empirical investigation and theoretical characterization of the neurobiology of memory, human perception, learning, language, and other basic mental processes through connectionist/parallel neural network modeling.  His more recent research seeks to include analyze mathematical cognition with a Parallel-Distributed Processing approach. The research combines experimental studies and computational modeling studies with the goal to understand the development of human abilities in mathematics at all levels.

Elizabeth S. Spelke was honored for her groundbreaking research examining the perceptual and cognitive capacities of infants and her research studying the continuity and discontinuity in ontogeny.  Spelke’s examination into the perceptual and cognitive capacities of infants sought to understand infants’ abilities to relate what they see to what they hear, to represent hidden objects, to reason in distinctive ways about inanimate object motion and human action, and to apprehend numerical and geometrical properties of the environment. In her experiments, Spelke utilized the technique of the infant gaze to decode the infant mind. Spelke’s work helped contribute to the understanding of how early-developing cognitive systems interact to support new systems of knowledge in both children and adults.

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