President Barack Obama awarded CISAC's founding science co-director Sidney D. Drell the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists, inventors and engineers. Drell was recognized for his research on quantum electrodynamics, which describes the interactions of matter of light, as well as applying basic physics to public policy, national security and intelligence.
"Now, this is the most collection of brainpower we’ve had under this roof in a long time, maybe since the last time we gave out these medals," Obama said in the White House ceremony on Feb. 1. "I have no way to prove that, and I know this crowd likes proof. But I can’t imagine too many people competing with those who we honor here today."
Drell shared the White House stage with Stanford biologist Lucy Shapiro, a senior fellow, by courtesy, of CISAC's umbrella organization, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Shapiro also advises CISAC as a member of its executive committee. She focuses on the dangers of emerging infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance and climate change.
Drell, a theoretical physicist for whom CISAC's annual public lecture is named, was appointed the science co-director alongside China expert John Lewis in 1983, when CISAC was initially established as Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control.
Lucy Shapiro with President Obama at the White House ceremony.