News Release

Neal Lane Wins Karl T. Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics

For Immediate Release

College Park, MD, April 9, 2009 -- The American Institute of Physics (AIP) announced today that Neal F. Lane, a Rice University professor and former U.S. presidential science advisor, is the winner of AIP's 2008 Karl T. Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics.

Named after prominent physicist Karl Taylor Compton, the medal is given by AIP every four years to distinguished American physicists like Lane who have made outstanding contributions through exceptional statesmanship in science. On Sunday, May 3 at the Denver meeting of the American Physical Society, Dr. Lane will receive the Compton Medal, a certificate of recognition, and a check for $10,000.

"Whether in the classroom or in the White House, Dr. Lane has always served the science community and the larger society as a distinguished civic scientist," says AIP Executive Director & CEO H. Frederick Dylla. "Throughout his long career, he has been a champion of research and a tireless advocate of better public understanding of science and technology."

Born in Oklahoma City in 1938, Dr Lane obtained B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the University of Oklahoma. Widely regarded as a distinguished scientist and educator, Dr. Lane is an expert in theoretical atomic and molecular physics -- especially electronic and atomic collisions and properties of excited ions in high temperature fusion plasmas and excited atoms in liquid helium.

Dr. Lane is also recognized for his many writings and presentations on science and technology policy, and he has sat on numerous review and advisory committees for professional organizations and federal and state agencies throughout his career. From 1979 to 1980, he served as director of the Division of Physics of the National Science Foundation (NSF). From October 1993 to August 1998, Dr. Lane served in the federal government as director of the National Science Foundation and member (ex-officio) of the National Science Board.

President Clinton appointed Dr. Lane in August, 1998 as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy -- a position often referred to as the President's Science Advisor. He served in this capacity until January 2001.

Today, as the Malcolm Gillis University Professor at Rice University in Houston, Dr. Lane holds an appointment in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and is a Senior Fellow of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, where he is engaged in matters of science and technology policy. He first joined Rice University in 1966 as an assistant professor of physics, becoming full professor in 1972. He was Provost of Rice University from 1986 to 1993, and from mid-1984 to 1986, he served as chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Early in his career, Dr. Lane received the W. Alton Jones Graduate Fellowship and held an NSF Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Oklahoma, an NSF Post-Doctoral Fellowship while in residence at Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship at Rice University and on research leave at Oxford University. He earned Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1960 and was inducted into Sigma Xi National Research Society in 1964, serving as its national president in 1993. He served as visiting fellow at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in 1965-66 and 1975-76. While a professor at Rice, he was two-time recipient of the university's George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching. Dr. Lane has received numerous prizes and awards, including the National Association of Biology Teachers Distinguished Service Award, NASA Distinguished Service Award, University of Oklahoma Distinguished Alumni Award, AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Award, the AAAS William D. Carey Award, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers President’s Award, the American Chemical Society Public Service Award, the American Astronomical Society/American Mathematical Society/American Physical Society Public Service Award, and many honorary degrees. In May, he will receive the Association of Rice Alumni Gold Medal.  He recently was selected to receive the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, considered by the Academy to be its most prestigious award.

Lane is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the Association for Women in Science, and a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Philosophical Society of Texas.

The certificate presented to Doctor Lane reads: "The AIP Karl T. Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics is awarded to Neal F. Lane in recognition of his leadership and service to the physics community and to science: for serving as a model "civic scientist," for his advocacy of public understanding of science and technology, and for his championship of scientific research and education."

 About the Compton Medal

The Karl Taylor Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics was established by the American Institute of Physics in 1957 for "...occasional conferment upon some distinguished physicist who has made an outstanding contribution to physics. The award should be given not necessarily for distinguished research, but for outstanding statesmanship in science." The award is named for Karl Taylor Compton in honor of his service to the physics community. Intended primarily for U.S. physicists, the award is given every four years and consists of a medal, a certificate, and a cash award of $10,000. The award is supported by a restricted/endowed fund.

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