Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences


Eric R. Kandel

In recognition of his leadership in the study at the cellular and molecular levels of the biology of the mental processes, and especially the character of learning and memory. The American Philosophical Society salutes Eric Kandel for advancing the study of learning and memory - long the provinces of philosophy and psychology - into the "empirical language of biology."



Hans A. Bethe

"In recognition of his role as

  • A preeminent physicist of the twentieth century, whose productive research career has spanned eight decades.
  • A pioneer in atomic physics, whose seminal work on stellar energy production earned him the 1967 Nobel Prize.
  • A leader of the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos.
  • A senior statesman of science and advisor to U.S. Presidents on atomic energy.
  • A courageous critic of defense policy and passionate advocate of arms control.
  • A beloved mentor to generations of Cornell physicists, whose efforts helped to transform the Cornell University Physics Department into one of the world's great centers of physics."



Steven Weinberg

In recognition of his role as a leading architect of the electroweak theory of interactions, a theory that unites the weak and the electromagnetic forces of nature. This was the first such unification since Maxwell had shown in the nineteenth century that electricity and magnetism are manifestations of the same phenomenon. In recognition of his highly regarded textbooks, including Gravitation and Cosmology and The Quantum Theory of Fields (in 3 volumes); his books for the general audience, most notably The First Three Minutes; and his extensive writing on subjects of public interest, such as ballistic missile defense. The American Philosophical Society salutes Steven Weinberg, considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive in the world today.



Janet D. Rowley

In recognition of her discovery of chromosomal translocations associated with cancer and of the range of basic research and clinical applications her continuing work makes possible, from identifying the genetic alterations that cause cancer to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer; and in recognition also of her exemplary leadership and mentorship in the world of the bio-medical sciences.



Joshua Lederberg

Distinguished geneticist, youthful discoverer of genetic recombination in bacteria and co-discoverer of transduction, both laying foundations for advances in biotechnology; Pioneer in the use of computing and artificial intelligence in the pursuit of science; Eager teacher of basic science and eager student of the history and sociology of science; Exemplary president of the Rockefeller University; Uncompromising voice for the integrity of science and the ethics of truth-telling, relentless critic and compassionate colleague; Who marches to his own drumbeat. The American Philosophical Society salutes this wise and polymathic scientist, and commends his quiet and effective work for the control of biological weapons and the cause of world peace.



Francis H. C. Crick and James D. Watson

In recognition of the determination of the structure of DNA in 1953. Their brilliant discovery is universally recognized as one of the seminal events in biology in the twentieth century. The structure elegantly explained how DNA could replicate with the utmost fidelity. Their work launched one of the most productive areas of biological science - molecular biology.

Alexander G. Bearn

In recognition of distinguished contributions as a physician and scientist, represented by his service as Stanton Griffis Distinguished Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cornell University Medical College and Physician-in-Chief at the New York Hospital, as Senior Vice President for Medical and Scientific Affairs at Merck, Sharp and Dohme and as Editor of the American Journal of Medicine. The Society places on record its profound appreciation for his outstanding service, wise leadership and exemplary devotion to the life and work of the Society and its members. As Executive Officer, he revitalized the Society's meetings, instituted Mellon sabbatical fellowships in the humanities and social sciences, led the Society's gift support to record levels, created joint programs with scholarly societies in Sweden and the United Kingdom, oversaw the renovation of Philosophical Hall and the purchase of additional office space, launched a successful program of scientific exhibits, redefined the focus of the Society's publications and, not least, brought to these and all his dealings a warmth, grace and generosity of spirit which have enlivened and enriched the corporate life of the Society. In expressing its admiration and gratitude for Dr. Bearn's enlightened leadership, the Society also places on record its best wishes for a long and happy retirement and its anticipation of a long continuing association with him as one of the Society's most eminent members. It hereby awards to him its highest honor in recognition of his loyal and devoted service, and as a mark of the admiration, appreciation and affection of its members.



William O. Baker

In recognition of a lifetime commitment to science and public service. His research has explored the complex relationship between molecular structure and physical properties of polymers. As director of research and development and as President of Bell Laboratories he inspired the research of countless scientists who became achievers of the highest merit. Deeply concerned with education, he has served with distinction on several state and national commissions, and contributed his wisdom to the field of philanthropy. As scientific advisor to a succession of Presidents of the United States, he has served his nation to an unparalleled degree.



Frederick C. Robbins

In recognition of the discovery with his colleagues in 1949 that viruses could be grown in tissue culture. This work enabled the development of vaccines for poliomyelitis and measles and altered the field of virology for all time.

Philip A. Sharp

In recognition of his work on the biology of tumor viruses which led to his discovery that genes contain nonsense segments that are edited out by cells in the course of utilizing genetic information. This landmark achievement, known as RNA splicing, altered the course of molecular biology.



Edward O. Wilson

In recognition of the great contributions this scientist has made through his research on ants to a better understanding of their societal relationships. Using exacting methods he has produced a new understanding of the processes which produce man's creative achievements by subjecting them to the rigorous analyses used in studying the physical and chemical characteristics of ants and other species.



Herman H. Goldstine

In recognition of a central figure in the development of the first large-scale general purpose electronic digital computer, a gifted mathematician who co-founded the field of numerical analysis and created a mathematics group at IBM that became a world center for the mathematics of computation, and for thirteen years exercised vision and leadership of the nation's oldest and most prestigious learned society.