Public Release:  NAS receives $3.5 million gift to establish Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

National Academy of Sciences

WASHINGTON - Richard C. Atkinson has made a gift of $3.5 million to the National Academy of Sciences to establish the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences. Beginning in 2014, the $200,000 prize will be given biennially to an individual (or may be shared by two individuals) responsible for significant advances in the psychological and cognitive sciences with important implications for formal and systematic theory in these fields.

"Because of the dedication of many brilliant researchers, the psychological and cognitive sciences have seen incredible advances in the past decades," said Atkinson, president emeritus of the University of California and professor emeritus of cognitive science and psychology at the University of California, San Diego. "This award is intended to recognize and support scientists in improving our understanding of how the mind works."

Although the psychological and cognitive sciences are long-established fields and many senior scientists are deserving of the award, the intent of the prize is to honor recent work in these areas of research. Recipients will be selected by NAS members in these disciplines, and prizes will be awarded at the NAS annual meeting.

"Dr. Atkinson's generous gift enables the National Academy of Sciences to recognize outstanding individuals who are making fundamental contributions to the advancement of these important areas of science," said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences.

Richard Atkinson was president of the University of California system from 1995 to 2003. Before becoming president he served for 15 years as chancellor of UC San Diego. He is a former director of the National Science Foundation and was a long-term faculty member at Stanford University. An internationally respected scholar and scientist, his tenure as UC president was marked by innovative approaches to admissions and outreach, research initiatives to accelerate the university's contributions to the state's economy, and a challenge to the country's most widely used admissions examination -- the SAT -- that paved the way for major changes in the way millions of America's youth are tested for college admission. Atkinson is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and -- with the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council -- provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

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