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Redrawing the Frontiers of Human Knowledge
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Redrawing the Frontiers of Human Knowledge

White House Honors Notre Dame College Alumna

President Barack Obama awarded Notre Dame College alumna Marye Anne Payne Fox ‘69 the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers and inventors.

Fox and 10 other nationally renowned researchers were honored in a White House ceremony on Nov 17.

“The extraordinary accomplishments of these scientists, engineers and inventors are a testament to American industry and ingenuity,” President Obama said. “Their achievements have redrawn the frontiers of human knowledge while enhancing American prosperity, and it is my tremendous pleasure to honor them for their important contributions.”

Fox, who is chancellor at the University of California, San Diego, received the Medal for her research in organic photochemistry and electrochemistry that has been used in materials science, solar energy conversion and environmental chemistry applications.

“It’s a great honor to receive this prestigious recognition, and I am humbled and proud that the contributions made by my research group have advanced organic chemistry,” Fox said.

“I was fortunate to have had brilliant and hardworking graduate students who focused on fundamental principles that were later translated into practical use in solar energy conversion, environmental remediation and materials science,” Fox said. “I truly believe that important developments in science and science education are vital for the future of this nation.”

A great honor: Marye Anne Payne Fox ‘69 receives the National Medal of Science from President Obama.
A great honor: Marye Anne Payne Fox ‘69 receives the National Medal of Science from President Obama.

Fox is a 1969 graduate of Notre Dame College. She completed her master’s degree at Cleveland State University, and received a doctorate in chemistry from Dartmouth College in 1973.

Fox spent 22 years at the University of Texas as an assistant professor of organic chemistry and vice chancellor of research. In 1998, she joined North Carolina State University as chancellor and distinguished professor of chemistry. She has been chancellor at UC San Diego since August 2004.

Fox has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and to fellowships both in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association of Advancement of Science. She also has received honorary degrees from 12 institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. Nominees are selected by a committee of Presidential appointees based on their extraordinary knowledge in, and contributions to, the biological, behavioral/social and physical sciences, as well as chemistry, engineering, computing and mathematics.