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Pupin Medal

The Michael Pupin Medal for Service to the Nation in Science, Technology, or Engineering


Award Description

The Medal is in honor of Michael I. Pupin, who was a legendary teacher, inventor, and engineer. He was a graduate of Columbia College in the Class of 1883 and was subsequently a faculty member at Columbia from 1890 to 1931. Michael Pupin was a physicist and chemist well known for numerous important patents and for having been a founding member of the precursor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Medal was first awarded in 1958.

The Medal is in recognition of service to the nation in engineering, science, or technology, of lasting and broad significance to society as a whole. The impact of the contribution must reach beyond the candidate’s professional field.

This Medal is awarded periodically by the Board of Managers of the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association (CEAA) with the concurrence of both the Dean of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and the President of Columbia University. The recipient must be either a graduate of the School of Engineering and Applied Science or must have otherwise been affiliated with Columbia University in some capacity such as a student, fellow, resident, faculty member, or visiting faculty member for at least one academic year.

Past Recipients

Name Year Description
2016 Breslow, Ronald University Professor, where he is based in the Department of Chemistry and affiliated with the Departments of Biological Sciences and Pharmacology; he has also been on the faculty of its Department of Chemical Engineering. He has taught at Columbia since 1956 and is a former chair of the university’s chemistry department.
2016 Marks, Paul He is a faculty member and president emeritus at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. After completing postdoctoral research at the United States National Institutes of Health and at the Institut Pasteur in France, he joined the faculty at Columbia University. Marks served as dean of the Medical Faculty at Columbia University from 1970 to 1973.
2015 Axel, Richard University Professor and MD in Neuroscience, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University; 2004 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine.
2014 EL-SADR, Wafaa University Professor of Medicine at Columbia University; founder and director of ICAP, whose HIV treatment and prevention programs have helped over 1 million people worldwide.
2012 VARMUS, Harold Co-recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes; presidential appointee to be Director of the National Cancer; researched the regulation of bacterial gene expression by cyclic AMP.
2008 STORMER, Horst Nobel Laureate in Physics 1998; for leadership in scientific research for two decades at Bell Laboratories and as scientific director of Columbia’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center; and for discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect, which has led to a breakthrough in understanding quantum physics and profound new insights into the structure and dynamics of matter.
2008 GRAY, Harry Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry; Founding Director of the Beckman Institute, California Institute of Technology, for distinguished service to the nation in science and technology; for decades of inspired teaching of the chemists of tomorrow at Columbia University and California Institute of Technology; for pioneering research in the field of electron transfer in metalloproteins that represents a landmark in biological inorganic chemistry; for contributing insights applicable to such vital biological processes as respiration, photosynthesis, and nitrogen fixation.
2005 ZARE, Richard N. He is known as the master laser chemist of our time, combining the pursuit of basic understanding with highly practical analytic applications; as the chairman of the National Science Board, the governing body of NSF, Prof. Zare has influenced the direction of research, college curriculum, and funding at all U.S. educational institutions.
2003 KANDEL, Eric R. For his groundbreaking research in learning and memory, recognized by the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine, that has revolutionized our knowledge on how the brain functions, uncovering the secrets of synapses that hold promise for progress in finding help for brain dysfunctions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
2000 MICHEL, Henry L. For his vision to eliminate national, political and scientific boundaries to promote the growth of the construction industry; for his 50 years of management of massive construction projects, transportation planning, and rail and rapid transit system design; for his commitment to research; for his leadership of Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc.
2000 LEDERMAN, Leon M. For his insight, tenacity and leadership in uncovering the secrets of neutrinos, muons and quarks; his cogent, compelling and witty writings on particle physics; his devotion to transforming the pursuit of science in secondary schools; his devotion to integrity in inquiry and his steadfast commitment to our scientists of the future.
1998 MERTON, Robert C. For applying mathematics to problems involving time and uncertainty, exemplified by financial markets; for devising a formula for the valuation of stock options; seminal contributions to asset pricing theory; pioneering applications of continuous-time stochastic modeling methods in economics and finance; and for outstanding teaching as a professor of business administration.
1998 HARRIS, Cyril For his singular ability to blend the science of acoustics with the art of architecture to create the most important performing spaces in the world; for giving listening audiences exquisite venues for the enjoyment of the beautiful sounds of vocal and instrumental music; for providing guidance and wisdom to succeeding generations of architects and acoustical engineers.
1995 VAGELOS, P. Roy For his leadership in the pharmaceutical industry; for his many contributions to biological science and pharmaceutical research; for his role in helping to discover and produce medicines that extend and enhance life; for his tireless efforts to promote global health as a public service; and for his outstanding work as a teacher.
1993 PRESS, Frank For his extensive work in seismic activity and wave theory; for organizing the first International Geophysical Year; and for his wise counsel to four Presidents of the United States.
1992 RAMSEY, Norman F., Jr. For discovery of the deuteron electric quadrupole moment, invention of high-precision methods of molecular beam spectroscopy, and observations of parity violating spin rotations of neutrons; and for educational leadership.
1991 WU, Chien-Shiung For outstanding work in physics. her 1954 experiments single-handedly disproved the widely accepted principle of “conservation of parity;” her 1963 experiments confirmed the existence of weak magnetism in beta decay.
1991 SALVADORI, Mario For his wide-ranging work in civil engineering, applied mathematics, architecture, and education.
1983 ROE, Kenneth A. For pioneering work in petroleum, electrical and nuclear Energy Construction, timeless service to Engineering Societies, and devotion to his government in advisory and active capacities.
1980 RABI, Isidor Isaac (The outstanding American scientist of the century) For his groundbreaking work in atomic physics, his establishment of a major scientific center in America, his years of peace-promoting service to his country and to the world, and his extraordinary dedication to teaching.
1979 MCGILL, William James (President of Columbia University 1970-1980, and specialist in psychophysics) For outstanding contributions in information processing and mathematic psychology, commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression, and the advancement of higher education.
1967 GLENN, Colonel John H. The first American astronaut to orbit the earth.
1966 KAPPEL, Frederick R. (President, and then Chairman of the Board of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, and life. Trustee of Columbia University) For his outspoken championship of free enterprise through strong personal example and wise council.
1961 HOOVER, John Edgar For devotion and loyalty to the cause of public safety and the example that he set for the youth of the nation.
1959 RICKOVER, Rear Admiral Hyman G Father of the atomic submarine.
1959 O’CONNELL, Honorable James T. For service to the nation in the fields of engineering and Federal construction; man power and industrial relations; personnel management and arbitration; and for his distinguished record of achievement as Under Secretary of Labor during the Eisenhower administration.
1959 GIBBS, William Francis As the country’s foremost designer of large ships he designed both the United States and the America for U.S. Lines. His Liberty ship allowed for mass production of freighters during World War II.
1959 DUNNING, Dean John R. For his key role in the development of the atomic energy program pioneered some of the first neutron experiments in the country in 1932 and was director of the development of the first Columbia University Cyclotron in 1936.
1959 BIRD, Brig. General Harrison K For his endeavors in the field of science with Dr. Pupin in the development of inventions for the benefit of mankind.
1958 MEDARIS, Major General John B For his planning and execution of the Ordinance phase of the Invasion of Normandy.