Public Release: 

3rd annual Golden Goose award ceremony honors 8 researchers; unusual work had big results

Ceremony tonight will feature bipartisan members of congress, MC Miles O'Brien

Association of American Universities


IMAGE: Eight researchers will receive the Golden Goose Award at a Library of Congress ceremony this evening. view more

Credit: Golden Goose Award

Eight researchers from several disciplines will be celebrated tonight at the third annual Golden Goose Award ceremony for their roles in improving the health of premature infants and in paving the way for the telecommunications and supercomputing revolutions. The researchers, whose work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the former Atomic Energy Commission, will be honored at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. A bipartisan group of Members of Congress will be on hand to help present their awards. The scientists are:

Larry Smarr, a physicist whose work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on the physics of black hole collisions led him to advance a federal commitment to dramatically enhance U.S. computing power and to foster the development of NCSA Mosaic, the precursor to today's web browsers. Robert Wilson, Paul Milgrom and R. Preston McAfee, economists whose basic research on game theory and auctions - conducted at Stanford University, Northwestern University and the University of Texas - enabled the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to first auction spectrum licenses in 1994, which helped make possible the telecommunications revolution.

Saul Schanberg (deceased), Tiffany Martini Field, Cynthia Kuhn and Gary Evoniuk, scientists at Duke University and the University of Miami whose research, which included massaging rat pups, led to the groundbreaking discovery of the importance of touch to human development and the introduction of massage as a dramatically successful element of treatment for premature infants.

The purpose of the Golden Goose Award is to demonstrate the human and economic benefits of federally funded research by highlighting examples of seemingly obscure or unusual studies that have led to major breakthroughs and have had a significant impact on society. Such breakthroughs may include development of life-saving medicines and treatments; game-changing social and behavioral insights; and major technological advances related to national security, energy, the environment, communications, and public health.

The Golden Goose Award was originally the idea of Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN). It was created and jointly launched by a coalition of organizations, listed below, which believe that federally funded basic scientific research is the cornerstone of American innovation and essential to our economic growth, health, global competitiveness, and national security. The award recipients were selected by a panel of respected scientists and university research leaders.

"We don't know the next big scientific discovery," Rep. Cooper said, "but we must continue to invest in the basic research that gave today's awardees their momentous, and unexpected, breakthroughs."

Rep. Cooper and other Democratic and Republican Members of Congress who support the Golden Goose Award are expected to speak and hand out the awards at today's ceremony.

"The unforeseen benefits of basic research have been tremendous, a point well demonstrated by the work of this year's Golden Goose awardees," said Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the organizations that created the award.

The Master of Ceremonies for the event will be Miles O'Brien, science correspondent and former CNN anchor.


To watch a video about the awardees, read their individual stories, and learn more about the Golden Goose Award, visit

Golden Goose Award Founding Organizations:

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Association of American Universities (AAU)
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)
Breakthrough Institute
Progressive Policy Institute (PPI)
Richard Lounsbery Foundation
The Science Coalition (TSC)
Task Force on American Innovation
United for Medical Research

Golden Goose Award 2014 Sponsors:

Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation
SAGE Publications
American Astronomical Society
American Mathematical Society
APS Physics
Association for Psychological Science
Association of American Medical Colleges
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
American Society for Microbiology
Biophysical Society
Texas Instruments

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