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Ryan Piurek
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Last modified: Friday, January 16, 2004

National Academy of Sciences lifts Indiana University above all others

Three of this year's 16 National Academy of Sciences awardees are Indiana University Bloomington faculty: political scientist Elinor Ostrom, biologist Rudolf Raff and psychologist Robert Goldstone. A representative of the academy said the concentration of award recipients at a single institution was unusual.

Each year NAS selects scientists from throughout the world as having made outstanding contributions in their fields. Awards will be presented to the honorees on April 19 during the academy's 141st annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Ostrom, the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, will receive the John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science for her exceptional contributions to the study of social science, "research that has greatly advanced our understanding of resource management and the governance of local public economies." In 2003, Ostrom, who co-directs the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at IU, received a lifetime achievement award from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation for her study of social organizations, urban governance and common-pool resources such as air, groundwater and forests. She also co-authored a new report, which appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Science, examining the state of the commons and challenging humans to develop and maintain self-governing institutions to prevent tragic resource degradation. Ostrom was elected to the NAS in 2001.

Raff will receive the 2003 Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal in zoology or paleontology. In its announcement, the NAS credited Raff with founding the field of evolutionary developmental biology, or "evo-devo," whose scientists study the mechanisms that produce evolutionary changes in body plans over time. Past recipients of the medal include Ernst Mayr, Theodosius Dobzhansky and George G. Simpson, who are considered to be among the most important biologists of all time. Department of Biology colleague Jeff Palmer portrayed Raff as a crucial addition to the list of past Elliot medal winners, saying, "Rudy's pioneering marriage of evolution and development at last brings development into the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory."

Goldstone, a psychologist and cognitive scientist who will receive one of the NAS's two Troland Research Awards, was lauded by the academy for developing "novel experimental analyses and elegant modeling" that have shown "how perceptual learning dynamically adjusts dimensions and boundaries of categories and concepts in human thought." The IUB Department of Psychology now has four Troland recipients -- Goldstone and fellow psychologists John Kruschke (2002), Joseph Steinmetz (1996) and Robert Nosofsky (1995) -- a number unmatched by any other institution in the world.

Raff will deliver a talk at next month's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle titled, "The quick and the dead: developmental genetics meets extinct organisms."

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that provides science advice to government agencies under a congressional charter. IU has 10 NAS fellows, more than any other university in the state.

To speak with Ostrom, contact Ryan Piurek at 812-855-5393 or To speak with Raff or Goldstone, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or