News Release

R. Duncan Luce wins National Medal of Science

Noted cognitive psychologist is third UCI researcher to earn nation's highest scientific honor

Grant and Award Announcement

University of California - Irvine

R. Duncan Luce

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Irvine, Calif., Feb. 15, 2005 -- R. Duncan Luce, a UC Irvine behavioral scientist whose work has profoundly influenced the fields of psychology and economics, will receive the 2003 National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the United States, the White House has announced.

Luce, 79, is one of eight U.S. scientists and engineers to receive this year's medal. President George W. Bush will honor them at a White House ceremony March 14, 2005.

"Professor Luce's fundamental contributions to mathematical psychology have guided the way the field examines decision making and sensory psychology," Chancellor Ralph J. Cicerone said. "UC Irvine is proud of Professor Luce's accomplishments, and I'm personally pleased that a 20-year faculty member is receiving this national honor."

Luce is the third UCI faculty member to receive the National Medal of Science. Evolutionary biologist Francisco J. Ayala and the late Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frederick D. Reines are past recipients.

"This is a great honor for which I am most grateful," Luce said. "Such an award is especially pleasing in two respects. First, it is a recognition of how far UCI has come in its relatively short existence, and, second, it is gratifying to receive national acknowledgement of theoretical research in the behavioral sciences. I'm thankful for the support -- familial, academic and federal -- that made it possible. I'm also grateful for my genes, which have enabled me to live a long life and enjoy this honor."

Luce first came to UCI in 1972, left in 1975 for Harvard University, then returned in 1988 to head the UCI Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences. He guided that institute for 10 years. Today he is UCI Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Sciences and Economics in the School of Social Sciences.

Widely considered a pioneer in mathematical behavioral sciences, Luce for more than 50 years has pursued a scientific understanding of human behavior. His work is a blend of mathematical theory and experiments, designed to provide understanding of features of individual behavior and orientation to the world. He does this by developing formal math models -- models, for example, that have contributed to shaping contemporary economics.

"Duncan Luce is one of the giants of the social and behavioral sciences -- an exemplary scholar, educator and human being," said Barbara Dosher, dean of the School of Social Sciences. "His work has fundamentally altered our understanding of how individuals and groups make decisions in psychology, economics and statistics, and has revolutionized the mathematical underpinnings of psychology and the social sciences. The National Medal of Science provides well-deserved recognition of his extraordinary influence as a creative intellectual force nationally and internationally."

Luce, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2004 Norman Anderson Award of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, 2003 Frank P. Ramsey Medal of the Decision Analysis Society and the 2001 Gold Medal for Life Achievement in the Science of Psychology of the American Psychological Foundation.

The U.S. Congress established the National Medal of Science in 1959 to honor individuals whose pioneering scientific research has led to a better understanding of the world around us. The National Science Foundation administers the award.


About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

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