National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C..
|Formation||March 3, 1863|
|Founders||Alexander Dallas Bache
|Founded at||2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C., U.S. 20418|
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit, non-governmental organization. NAS is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).
As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Election to the National Academy is one of the highest honors in the scientific field. Members serve pro bono as “advisers to the nation” on science, engineering, and medicine. The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.
Founded in 1863 as a result of an Act of Congress that was approved by Abraham Lincoln, the NAS is charged with “providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. … to provide scientific advice to the government ‘whenever called upon’ by any government department. The Academy receives no compensation from the government for its services.”
As of 2016[update], the National Academy of Sciences includes about 2,350 members and 450 foreign associates. It employed about 1,100 staff in 2005. The current members annually elect new members for life. Up to 84 members who are US citizens are elected every year; up to 21 foreign citizens may be elected as foreign associates annually. Approximately 190 members have won a Nobel Prize. By its own admission in 1989, the addition of women to the Academy “continues at a dismal trickle”, at which time there were 1,516 male members and 57 female members.
The National Academy of Sciences is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The ICSU Advisory Committee, which is in the Research Council’s Office of International Affairs, facilitates participation of members in international scientific unions and serves as a liaison for U.S. national committees for individual scientific unions. Although there is no formal relationship with state and local academies of science, there often is informal dialogue. The National Academy is governed by a 17-member Council, made up of five officers (president, vice president, home secretary, foreign secretary, and treasurer) and 12 Councilors, all of whom are elected from among the Academy membership. About 85 percent of funding comes from the federal government through contracts and grants from agencies and 15 percent from state governments, private foundations, industrial organizations, and funds provided by the Academies member organizations.
The Council has the ability ad-hoc to delegate certain tasks to committees. For example, the Committee on Animal Nutrition has produced a series of Nutrient requirements of domestic animals reports since at least 1944, each one being initiated by a different sub-committee of experts in the field for example on dairy cattle.
The National Academy of Sciences meets annually in Washington, D.C., which is documented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, its scholarly journal. The National Academies Press is the publisher for the National Academies, and makes more than 5,000 publications freely available on its website.
From 2004 to 2017, the National Academy of Sciences administered the Marian Koshland Science Museum to provide public exhibits and programming related to its policy work. The museum’s exhibits focused on climate change and infectious disease. In 2017 the museum closed and made way for a new science outreach program called LabX.
The National Academy of Sciences maintains multiple buildings around the United States.
The National Academy of Sciences Building is located at 2101 Constitution Avenue, in northwest Washington, D.C.; it sits on the National Mall, adjacent to the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building and in front of the headquarters of the U.S. State Department. The building has a neoclassical architectural style and was built by architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. The building was dedicated in 1924 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Goodhue engaged a team of artists and architectural sculptors including Albert Herter, Lee Lawrie, and Hildreth Meiere to design interior embellishments celebrating the history and significance of science. The building is used for lectures, symposia, exhibitions, and concerts, in addition to annual meetings of the NAS, NAE, and NAM. The 2012 Presidential Award for Math and Science Teaching ceremony was held here on March 5, 2014. Approximately 150 staff members work at the NAS Building. In June 2012, it reopened to visitors after a major two-year restoration project which restored and improved the building’s historic spaces, increased accessibility, and brought the building’s aging infrastructure and facilities up to date.
More than 1,000 National Academies staff members work at The Keck Center of the National Academies at 500 Fifth Street in northwest Washington, D.C. The Keck Center provides meeting space and houses the National Academies Press Bookstore. The Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences – formerly located at 525 E St., N.W. – hosted visits from the public, school field trips, traveling exhibits, and permanent science exhibits.
The NAS also maintains conference centers in California and Massachusetts. The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center is located on 100 Academy Drive in Irvine, California, near the campus of the University of California, Irvine; it offers a conference center and houses several NAS programs. The J. Erik Jonsson Conference Center located at 314 Quissett Avenue in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, is another conference facility.
The Act of Incorporation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863, created the National Academy of Sciences and named 50 charter members. Many of the original NAS members came from the so-called “Scientific Lazzaroni,” an informal network of mostly physical scientists working in the vicinity of Cambridge, Massachusetts (c. 1850).
In 1863, enlisting the support of Alexander Dallas Bache and Charles Henry Davis, a professional astronomer who had been recently recalled from the Navy to Washington to head the Bureau of Navigation. They also elicited support from Swiss-American geologist Louis Agassiz and American mathematician Benjamin Peirce, who together planned the steps whereby the National Academy of Sciences was to be established. Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts was to name Agassiz to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.
Agassiz was to come to Washington at the government’s expense to plan the organization with the others. This bypassed Joseph Henry, who was reluctant to have a bill for such an academy presented to Congress. This was in the belief that such a resolution would be “opposed as something at variance with our democratic institutions”. Nevertheless, Henry soon became the second President of NAS. Agassiz, Davis, Peirce, Benjamin Gould, and Senator Wilson met at Bache’s house and “hurriedly wrote the bill incorporating the Academy, including in it the name of fifty incorporators”.
During the last hours of the session, when the Senate was immersed in the rush of last minute business before its adjournment, Senator Wilson introduced the bill. Without examining it or debating its provisions, both the Senate and House approved it, and President Lincoln signed it.
Although hailed as a great step forward in government recognition of the role of science in American society, at the time, the National Academy of Sciences created enormous ill-feelings among scientists, whether or not they were named as incorporators.
The Act states:
[T]he Academy shall, whenever called upon by any department of the Government, investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art, the actual expense of such investigations, examinations, experiments, and reports to be paid from appropriations which may be made for the purpose, but the Academy shall receive no compensation whatever for any services to the Government of the United States.
The National Academies did not solve the problems facing a nation in Civil War as the Lazzaroni had hoped, nor did it centralize American scientific efforts. However, election to the National Academy did come to be considered “the pinnacle of scientific achievement for Americans” until the establishment of the Nobel Prize at the end of the 19th Century.:30
In 1870, the congressional charter was amended to remove the limitation on the number of members.
In 2013, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked to write a speech for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in which he made the point that one of Lincoln’s greatest legacies was establishing the National Academy of Sciences in that same year, which had the long-term effect of “setting our Nation on a course of scientifically enlightened governance, without which we all may perish from this Earth”.
The president is the head of the Academy, elected by a majority vote of the membership to serve in this position for a term to be determined by the governing Council, not to exceed six years, and may be re-elected for a second term. The Academy has had 22 presidents since its foundation. The current president is geophysicist Marcia K. McNutt, the first woman to hold this position. Her term expires June 30, 2022.
- 1863–1867 Alexander Dallas Bache
- 1868–1878 Joseph Henry
- 1879–1882 William Barton Rogers
- 1883–1895 Othniel Charles Marsh
- 1895–1900 Wolcott Gibbs
- 1901–1907 Alexander Agassiz
- 1907–1913 Ira Remsen
- 1913–1917 William Henry Welch
- 1917–1923 Charles Doolittle Walcott
- 1923–1927 Albert Abraham Michelson
- 1927–1931 Thomas Hunt Morgan
- 1931–1935 William Wallace Campbell
- 1935–1939 Frank Rattray Lillie
- 1939–1947 Frank Baldwin Jewett
- 1947–1950 Alfred Newton Richards
- 1950–1962 Detlev Wulf Bronk
- 1962–1969 Frederick Seitz
- 1969–1981 Philip Handler
- 1981–1993 Frank Press
- 1993–2005 Bruce Michael Alberts
- 2005–2016 Ralph J. Cicerone
- 2016–present Marcia McNutt
The Academy gives a number of different awards:
- John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science
- William O. Baker Award for Initiatives in Research, formerly NAS Award for Initiatives in Research
- NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing
- NAS Award for Scientific Discovery
- Public Welfare Medal
- Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Convergence Research
- Behavioral/Social Sciences
- Biology and Medicine
- Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Alexander Agassiz Medal
- Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship
- Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal
- Mary Clark Thompson Medal
- NAS Award in Early Earth and Life Sciences
- Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal, part of the NAS Award in Early Earth and Life Sciences since 2008
- Stanley Miller Medal, part of the NAS Award in Early Earth and Life Sciences since 2008
- G. K. Warren Prize
- Engineering and Applied Sciences
- J.C. Hunsaker Award – aeronautical engineering
- Gibbs Brothers Medal – naval architecture, marine engineering
- NAS Award for the Industrial Application of Science
- NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Science
- Mathematics and Computer Science
Joint Declaration on Global Warming
In 2005, the national science academies of the G8 forum (including the National Academy of Sciences) and science academies of Brazil, China, and India (three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world) signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change had become sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.
On May 7, 2010, a letter signed by 255 Academy members was published in Science magazine, decrying “political assaults” against climate change scientists. This was in response to a civil investigative demand on the University of Virginia (UVA) by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, seeking a broad range of documents from Michael E. Mann, a former UVA professor from 1999-2005. Mann, who currently works at Penn State, is a climate change researcher, and Cuccinelli alleges that Mann may have defrauded Virginia taxpayers in the course of his environmental research. Investigations had cleared Mann of charges that he falsified or suppressed data.
- National Digital Library Program (NDLP)
- List of members of the National Academy of Sciences
- National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP)
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy
- National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
- 1873, Edward C. Pickering (1846–1919) was the youngest scientist elected
- 1924, Florence R. Sabin (1871-1953) was the first lifetime woman member to be elected
- 1965, David Blackwell (1919-2010) was the first African-American elected
- 2013, Ben Barres was the first openly transgender scientist elected
- “Overview: NAS Mission”. National Academies of Science. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
- “About NAS: Membership”. National Academy of Sciences. 2013.
- Alberts, Bruce (2005). “Summing Up: Creating a Scientific Temper for the World” (PDF). National Academy of Sciences.
- http://www.nasonline.org, National Academy of Sciences -. “Overview: Membership”. www.nasonline.org. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
- “News of the week from the science world”. Journals. San Francisco Examiner. May 20, 1989. p. D-2 – via Newspapers.com.
- “Constitution”. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
- “Newsroom”. National-Academies.org. 2011-06-02. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- National Academy of Sciences. “The NAS Building … a Temple of Science”. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
- “A Home for Science in America”. www.nasonline.org. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
- “Restoration of Historic National Academy of Sciences Building”. CPNAS. National Academy of Sciences. 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- National Academy of Sciences. “Visiting Our Buildings”. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
- “Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences”. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
- ITS. “Founding of the National Academy of Sciences”. .nationalacademies.org. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- For an analysis of the motives by Alexander Dallas Bache for founding the NAS, see Jansen, Axel (2011). Alexander Dallas Bache: Building the American Nation through Science and Education in the Nineteenth Century. Campus. p. 285-314.
- Miller, Lillian; Voss, Frederick; Hussey, Jeannette (1972). The Lazzaroni: science and scientists in mid-nineteenth-century America. Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 121. Retrieved 2007-10-26.
- OCGA. “An Act to Incorporate the National Academy of Sciences”. .nationalacademies.org. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- Stankus, Tony (1990). Scientific journals: Improving library collections through analysis of publishing trends. Haworth Press. ISBN 0-886656-905-7 – via Internet Archive.CS1 maint: Ignored ISBN errors (link)
- A Chronicle of Public Laws Calling for Action by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, [and] National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academies. 1985. p. 5. NAP:11820. Retrieved 22 March 2014. [16 Stat. 277 and 36 U.S.C. § 252], Accessed at Google Books
- Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Gettysburg Reply – “The Seedbed”
- “Leadership and Governance”. National Academy of Sciences. 2016.
- “Statement on Global Response to Climate Change”. The Royal Society. 2005-06-07.
- Helderman, Rosalind (May 9, 2010). “U-Va. urged to fight Cuccinelli subpoena in probe of scientist”. Washington Post. p. C5.
- “Open letter: Climate change and the integrity of science”. The Guardian. May 6, 2010.
- “Curriculum Vitae: Michael E. Mann”. psu dot edu. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Helderman, Rosalind (May 9, 2010). “U-Va. urged to fight Cuccinelli subpoena in probe of scientist”. Washington Post. p. C5.
- Foley, Henry C.; Alan W. Scaroni; Candice A. Yekel (3 February 2010). “RA-10 Inquiry Report: Concerning the Allegations of Research Misconduct Against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Department of Meteorology, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University” (PDF). The Pennsylvania State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- “Membership FAQ”. NAS.
- Trans News Editors (May 11, 2013). “Neurobiologist Becomes First Transgender Scientist Selected For U.S. National Academy of Science Membership”. Trans News. Trans Media Network.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Nader, Ralph (1975). Introduction. The brain bank of America: An inquiry into the politics of science. By Boffey, Philip. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0070063686.
- Hilgartner, Stephen (2000). Science on Stage: Expert Advice as Public Drama. Writing science. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804736466. 634.
- Official website
- Library of Congress:
- Vega Science Trust: