Barbara Schaal to receive NSB Public Service Award

The Public Service Award award honors exemplary service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering.

Barbara Schaal

The National Science Board has announced that Dean Barbara Schaal will be honored with the 2019 NSB Public Service Award. Established in 1996, this esteemed award honors exemplary service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering. Past recipients include Jane Goodall, Stephen Jay Gould, Craig Barret, Alan Alda, and Dean Kamen.

In addition to her role as Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Schaal is widely recognized for her pioneering research in plant science and her leadership in addressing critical domestic and global challenges. She was among the first plant biologists to use molecular biology-based approaches to understand evolutionary processes in plants, and she has worked throughout her career to advance public understanding of plant molecular systematics and population genetics.

“Barbara Schaal is a world-class scientist, with a strong commitment to her students and their careers,” said Kent Fuchs, chair of the NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards. “Barbara is both mentor and educator, ensuring her students have a strong foundation in basic science, world-class research experiences, and a sense of responsibility to public service.” Her work includes collaborating with students and peers to investigate the evolutionary genetics of plants, with an aim of enriching important food crops such as rice and cassava.

Schaal has held many significant positions throughout her career, including serving as president of the Botanical Society of America, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and U.S. National Academy of Sciences, where she served as vice president for eight years.

“As a biologist, educator and administrator, I am a firm believer that science is for everyone,” said Schaal. “We just have to continue to make science as accessible and relevant as we can. I’m honored to receive this award from the National Science Board and want to share it with my incredible colleagues at AAAS and NAS, my former students, as well as science advocates and educators everywhere who do the crucial work of reaching people every day.”

The National Science Board and the National Science Foundation's director jointly head NSF. NSB identifies issues critical to NSF's future and establishes the foundation's policies. The NSB also provides the President and Congress with Science and Engineering Indicators, a biennial report on the state of science and engineering in the United States. Members are appointed by the President for six-year terms and selected for their eminence in research, education and records of distinguished service.

The Board will present Schaal with the NSB Public Service Award on May 14 at the National Science Foundation Annual Awards Ceremony held in Washington, D.C.