Stanford faculty members honored with National Medals of Science
Last December, Stanford psychologist ALBERT BANDURA and microbiologist STANLEY FALKOW, were among those named winners of 2015 National Medals of Science. A White House ceremony, originally scheduled for January, was postponed due to a snowstorm in Washington, D.C.
On May 19, Bandura and Falkow finally received their awards from President BARACK OBAMA.
Bandura, the David Starr Jordan Professor of Social Science, Emeritus, has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1953. He is renowned for his groundbreaking work in social cognitive theory and self-efficacy. He was the first to prove that self-efficacy, a belief in one’s capabilities, affects the tasks one chooses, how much effort is put into them and how one feels while doing them. He also found that people learn not only as a result of their own beliefs and expectations but also by “modeling” or observing others, an idea that led to the development of modern social cognitive theory.
Falkow, the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor in Cancer Research, Emeritus, joined the Stanford School of Medicine faculty in 1981. He was recognized for his pioneering work in studying how bacteria can cause human disease and how antibiotic resistance spreads.
He is well known for his work on extrachromosomal elements called plasmids and their role in antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity in humans and animals. As a graduate student in the early 1960s, first at the University of Michigan and later at Brown University, and then as an independent researcher at Georgetown University, he learned the biochemical and microbiological techniques necessary to deduce how bacteria transmit antibiotic resistance to one another. In particular, he found that some bacteria were resistant to antibiotics to which they had never been exposed, which at first confounded researchers. Falkow subsequently discovered that bacteria gained their resistance by sharing their genes much more promiscuously than had been thought possible.
“As president, I’m proud to honor each of you for your contributions to our nation,” Obama said during the ceremony. “As an American, I’m proud of everything that you’ve done to contribute to that fearless spirit of innovation that’s made us who we are, and that doesn’t just benefit our citizens but benefits the world. We’re very proud of what you’ve done. So congratulations to all of you.”