The National Medal of Science was established by the 86th Congress in 1959 as a Presidential Award to be given to individuals "deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences." In 1980 Congress expanded this recognition to include the social and behavioral sciences.
A Committee of 12 scientists and engineers is appointed by the President to evaluate the nominees for the Award. Since its establishment, the National Medal of Science has been awarded to more than 450 distinguished scientists and engineers whose careers spanned decades of research and development.
For more information, visit http://www.nsf.gov/od/nms/medal.jsp