Bower, Efron win National Medal of Science

Gordon Bower

Gordon Bower

Bradley Efron

Bradley Efron

Psychology Professor Emeritus Gordon H. Bower and statistics Professor Bradley Efron have been selected to receive the 2005 National Medal of Science, the White House announced Tuesday. Established by Congress in 1959 and administered by the National Science Foundation, the medal is the nation's highest scientific honor.

Bower's and Efron's medals bring the number awarded to scholars at Stanford, including the Hoover Institution, to 34.

Bower, the Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, was cited "for his unparalleled contributions to cognitive and mathematical psychology, for his lucid analyses of remembering and reasoning and for his important service to psychology and to American science."

He retired in 2005 following a 46-year career at Stanford and is considered one of the nation's leading experimental psychologists and learning theorists. In 2002, he was ranked 42nd on a list of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century in a study published by the Review of General Psychology.

Bower, 74, is a cognitive psychologist specializing in experimental studies of human memory, language comprehension, emotion and behavior modification. A native of Scio, Ohio, he earned his doctorate from Yale University in 1959. In the summer of 1957, Bower won a fellowship to attend a workshop at Stanford on mathematical learning theory. He so impressed the Stanford faculty during the workshop that he was offered a job before he even finished his degree. Bower never left Stanford, and from 1978 to 1982 served as chair of the Psychology Department and from 1983 to 1986 as associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. His leadership and research have helped to make the Stanford department the leading psychology department in the nation.

Efron, the Max H. Stein Professor and Professor of Statistics and of Health Research and Policy, was cited "for his contributions to theoretical and applied statistics, especially the bootstrap sampling technique; for his extraordinary geometric insight into nonlinear statistical problems; and for applications in medicine, physics and astronomy."

He invented the bootstrap method, a general computer-based way of attaching plus-or-minus values to a statistical estimate (as in, for example, "57 percent of the public plus or minus 3 percent are in favor of subsidizing public utilities"). His focus on methodologies useful in diverse fields has helped make Stanford's Department of Statistics America's top-ranked department in the discipline.

Efron, 69, is one of the world's most often-cited mathematical scientists. He earned his doctorate in statistics from Stanford in 1964 and joined the Stanford faculty in 1965. Winner of a 1983 MacArthur Prize, he has served as president of the American Statistical Association and of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

The other 2005 National Medal of Science laureates are Jan D. Achenbach (Northwestern University), Ralph A. Alpher (Dudley Observatory), Anthony S. Fauci (National Institutes of Health), Tobin J. Marks (Northwestern University), Lonnie G. Thompson (Ohio State University) and Torsten N. Wiesel (Rockefeller University).

"The National Medal of Science honors individuals for pioneering scientific research in a range of fields, including physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral and engineering sciences, that enhances our understanding of the world and leads to innovations and technologies that give the United States its global economic edge," said a White House statement.