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David Bricker

Last modified: Thursday, May 9, 2002

IU chemist Davidson to receive National Medal of Science

First IU scientist to be awarded top honor

President George W. Bush today (May 9) named Ernest Davidson, Distinguished Professor and the Robert and Marjorie Mann Chair in Computational Quantum Chemistry at Indiana University, to receive the President's National Medal of Science. Davidson and 14 other honorees will be presented with the medals, which recognize Americans who have made significant and lasting contributions to science, at a White House ceremony scheduled for June 13.

Davidson, also chair of the IU Department of Chemistry, becomes the first IU professor to receive what is arguably the nation's highest honor for scientific achievement.

Early in his career, Davidson combined theory and computers to better understand the way atoms and subatomic particles move. In pioneering the field of computational quantum chemistry, he fundamentally improved scientists' ability to predict the outcome of chemical reactions. As a result, his work has indelibly touched a wide range of research areas, from materials engineering to the development of pharmaceuticals.

Peers at other universities lauded Davidson. Harvard University chemist William Klemperer told the selection committee for the medal that "Davidson changed our understanding of the structure of matter." Chemist Robert Parr of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said of Davidson, "His calculations set standards for decades."

The annual presentation of the President's National Medals of Science began in 1962. It is administered by the National Science Foundation with the support of Congress. Including this year's honorees, a total of 401 medals have been awarded to exceptional American scientists and engineers.

NOTE: To arrange an interview with Davidson, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or