WASHINGTON — Four scientists from California were among the 14 recipients of the nation's highest honors for achievement in science and technological innovation, presented Monday by President Bush at a White House ceremony.
Bush praised the eight recipients of the National Medal of Science and the six awarded the National Medal of Technology for using their talents to make breakthroughs in crucial areas.
"Your work is making our country more competitive, more hopeful and more prosperous," Bush said.
The National Medal of Science recognizes contributions to engineering and the physical, biological, mathematical, social and behavioral sciences. Established by Congress in 1959 and administered by the National Science Foundation, the award has been given to 417 scientists. Eighty-four -- including two who received the medal Monday -- have also won the Nobel Prize.
The National Medal of Technology was created by Congress in 1980 to recognize contributions to America's competitiveness, standard of living and quality of life through technological advances. It is administered by the Commerce Department, and 122 awards have been presented to individuals and companies.
The Californians, all of whom received the science medal, are:
* J. Michael Bishop, 69, chancellor of UC San Francisco. Bishop initially studied poliovirus, but his later research led to the concept that cancer generally resulted from damage to normal genes. His discoveries provided new techniques for the detection and treatment of cancer. He is a professor and the director of the program in biological sciences, and shared the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1989.
* R. Duncan Luce, 79, cognitive psychologist at UC Irvine. A pioneer in mathematical behavioral science, Luce blends mathematical theory with experience to determine how individuals and groups make decisions. His behavioral models have increased understanding in the fields of psychology, economics and statistics, said Barbara Dosher, dean of the School of Social Sciences at UC Irvine.
* John M. Prausnitz, 77, applied physical chemist at UC Berkeley. Prausnitz has applied the principles of molecular thermodynamics to create concepts and computer programs that aid in the design of safe and efficient chemical plants, including petroleum refineries. He studies the workings of individual molecules to determine the properties of fluids and solids as a whole and has also applied that knowledge in biotechnology.
* Charles Yanofsky, 79, biologist at Stanford University. Yanofsky's work in molecular biology resulted in important theories on gene expression and protein production. He contributed to several fundamental observations in the field of genetics, and his research helped determine the genetic code.
"It's always wonderful to be appreciated," Yanofsky said of the award. "It's not what we do research for, but nevertheless, it's nice when it happens."
Luce described his award as "a recognition of how far UCI has come in its relatively short existence." He also said it was "gratifying to receive national acknowledgment of theoretical research in the behavioral sciences." And, he added, "I'm also grateful for my genes, which have enabled me to live a long life and enjoy this honor."
Among the recipients of the National Medal of Technology were the inventor of the Ethernet standards for high-speed data transfer and a researcher who developed ways to discover tiny cracks and corrosion in aircraft.
Monday's honorees received the medal for 2003. The awards process generally takes more than a year from the time a nomination is received to the time the award is given.