Nevada celebrates science at DRI Medalist Awards presentation
Dr. Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council, was presented last night with the 2017 Desert Research Institute’s Nevada Medal Award during an awards dinner.
Governor Brian Sandoval presented the medal.
Dr. Kristen Averyt, president of DRI, described McNutt as “one of my person heroes.”
From 2013 to 2016, McNutt served as editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, prior to which she served as director of the U.S. Geological Survey from 2009 to 2013. During that time USGS responded to a number of major disasters, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
A distinguished geophysicist, her research focuses on marine geophysics. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles and helped develop a variety of remote sensing techniques to understand the origin of clusters of volcanoes in the middle of tectonic plates.
In her acceptance speech, McNutt described the history and mission of the National Academy of Sciences, which was created by President Abraham Lincoln to advise the government on matters of science to improve its decision making.
The consequences of not following the academy’s advice can be seen in the influenza epidemic of 1917-1919. Because of the high contagion of the disease, the academy recommended that soldiers not be housed in close barracks.
The Army continued doing what it always does with the tragic result that more U.S. troops died from flue than than from enemy fire, McNutt said.
“Science without policy is still science,” she concluded. “But policy without science is a game of chance.”
The Nevada Medalist Award was established in 1988 to acknowledge outstanding achievement in the fields of science and engineering. The DRI Nevada Medal is the highest scientific honor in the state.
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