National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.
2101 Constitution Ave., NW.
|Architect||Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue|
|NRHP Reference #||74002168|
|Added to NRHP||March 15, 1974|
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a non-profit organization in the United States. Members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine". As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Election to the National Academy is one of the high honors in U.S. science.
The National Academy of Sciences is part of the National Academies, which also includes:
- Origin 1.1
- Recent history 1.2
- Facilities 1.3
- Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences 2.1
- Joint declaration on global warming 3.1
- Awards 4
- See also 5
- References 6
- External links 7
The Act of Incorporation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863, created the National Academy of Sciences and named 50 charter members. Many of the original NAS members came from the so-called "Scientific Lazzaroni", an informal network of mostly physical scientists working in the vicinity of Cambridge, Massachusetts (c. 1850).
In 1863, enlisting the support of Alexander Dallas Bache and Charles Henry Davis, a professional astronomer recently recalled from the Navy to Washington to head the Bureau of Navigation, Louis Agassiz and Benjamin Peirce planned the steps whereby the National Academy of Sciences was to be established. Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts was to name Agassiz to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.
Agassiz was to come to Washington at the government's expense to plan the organization with the others. This bypassed Joseph Henry, who was reluctant to have a bill for such an academy presented to Congress. This was in the belief that such a resolution would be "opposed as something at variance with our democratic institutions". Nevertheless, Henry soon became the second President of NAS. Agassiz, Davis, Peirce, Benjamin Gould, and Senator Wilson met at Bache's house and "hurriedly wrote the bill incorporating the Academy, including in it the name of fifty incorporators".
During the last hours of the session, when the Senate was immersed in the rush of last minute business before its adjournment, Senator Wilson introduced the bill. Without examining it or debating its provisions, both the Senate and House approved it, and President Lincoln signed it.
Although hailed as a great step forward in government recognition of the role of science in American civilization, the National Academy of Sciences at the time created enormous ill-feelings among scientists, whether or not they were named as incorporators. Later, Agassiz admitted that they had "started on the wrong track".
The Act states:
[T]he Academy shall, whenever called upon by any department of the Government, investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art, the actual expense of such investigations, examinations, experiments, and reports to be paid from appropriations which may be made for the purpose, but the Academy shall receive no compensation whatever for any services to the Government of the United States.—An Act to Incorporate the National Academy of Sciences, 
The National Academy did not solve the problems facing a nation in Civil War as the Lazzaroni had hoped, nor did it centralize American scientific efforts.
In 1870, the congressional charter was amended to remove the limitation on the number of members.
As of 2013, the National Academy of Sciences includes about 2,200 members and 400 foreign associates. It employed about 1,100 staff in 2005. The current members annually elect new members for life. Nearly 200 members have won a Nobel Prize.
The National Academy of Sciences is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The ICSU Advisory Committee, which is in the Research Council's Office of International Affairs, facilitates participation of members in international scientific unions and is a liaison for U.S. national committees for the individual scientific unions. Although there is no formal relationship with state and local academies of science, there often is informal dialogue.
The National Academy of Sciences meets annually in Washington, D.C., documented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, its scholarly journal. The National Academies Press is the publisher for the National Academies, and makes more than 3,600 publications freely available on its website.
There are several books on the National Academy of Sciences and the advice the National Research Council gives the U.S. government, including a critical piece of journalism The Brain Bank of America by Philip Boffey and a sociological study Science on Stage: Expert Advice as Public Drama.
Since 2004, the National Academy of Sciences has administered the Marian Koshland Science Museum, to provide public exhibits and programming related to its policy work. The museum's current exhibits focus on climate change and infectious disease.
Since June 2011, the NAS made a digital copy of most books and reports published by the National Academies Press available for free at their website. The catalog includes more than 4,000 works.
The National Academy of Sciences maintains multiple buildings around the United States.
The historic National Academy of Sciences building is located at 2101 Constitution Avenue, in northwest Washington, DC; it sits on the National Mall, adjacent to the Federal Reserve and in front of the State Department. This neoclassical building by architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue was dedicated in 1924 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is used for lectures, symposia, exhibitions, and concerts, in addition to annual meetings of the NAS, NAE, and IOM. The 2012 Presidential Award for Math and Science Teaching ceremony was held here on March 5, 2014. Approximately 150 staff members work at the NAS Building. In June 2012, it reopened to visitors after a major two-year restoration project which restored and improved the building’s historic spaces, increased accessibility, and brought the building's aging infrastructure and facilities up to date.
More than 1,000 National Academies staff members work at The Keck Center of the National Academies at 500 Fifth Street in northwest Washington, D.C. The Keck Center provides meeting space and houses the National Academies Press Bookstore. The Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences – located at 525 E St., N.W. – hosts visits from the public, school field trips, traveling exhibits, and permanent science exhibits.
The NAS also maintains conference centers in California and Massachusetts. The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies is located on 100 Academy Drive in Irvine, California, near the campus of the University of California, Irvine; it offers a conference center and houses several NAS programs. The J. Erik Jonsson Conference Center located at 314 Quissett Avenue in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, is another conference facility.
The Academy is governed by a 17-member Council, made up of five officers (president, vice president, home secretary, foreign secretary, and treasurer) and 12 Councilors, all of whom are elected from among the Academy membership.
Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences
The President is the head of the Academy, elected by a majority vote of the membership to serve in this position for a term to be determined by the governing Council, not to exceed six years, and may be re-elected for a second term. The Academy has had 21 presidents since its foundation. The current President is atmospheric chemist, Ralph J. Cicerone of the University of California, Irvine.
- 1863–1867 Alexander Dallas Bache
- 1868–1878 Joseph Henry
- 1879–1882 William Barton Rogers
- 1883–1895 Othniel Charles Marsh
- 1895–1900 Wolcott Gibbs
- 1901–1907 Alexander Agassiz
- 1907–1913 Ira Remsen
- 1913–1917 William Henry Welch
- 1917–1923 Charles Doolittle Walcott
- 1923–1927 Albert Abraham Michelson
- 1927–1931 Thomas Hunt Morgan
- 1931–1935 William Wallace Campbell
- 1935–1939 Frank Rattray Lillie
- 1939–1947 Frank Baldwin Jewett
- 1947–1950 Alfred Newton Richards
- 1950–1962 Detlev Wulf Bronk
- 1962–1969 Frederick Seitz
- 1969–1981 Philip Handler
- 1981–1993 Frank Press
- 1993–2005 Bruce Michael Alberts
- 2005–present Ralph J. Cicerone
- David Blackwell was the first African-American elected (1965).
- Edward C. Pickering (1846–1919) was the youngest scientist elected.
- Florence R. Sabin was the first lifetime woman member to be elected (1924).
Joint declaration on global warming
In 2005, the national science academies of the G8 nations (including the National Academy of Sciences) plus science academies of Brazil, China, and India (three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world) signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change had become sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.
On 7 May 2010, a letter signed by 255 Academy members was published in Science magazine, decrying "political assaults" against climate change scientists. This responded to a civil investigative demand being served on the University of Virginia by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, seeking a broad range of documents from Michael E. Mann, who was formerly an assistant professor there from 1999-2005. Mann, who currently works at Penn State, is a climate change researcher, and Cuccinelli alleges that Mann may have defrauded Virginia taxpayers in the course of his environmental research. Investigations had cleared Mann of charges that he falsified or suppressed data.
The Academy gives a number of different awards:
- Behavioral/Social Sciences
- Biology and Medicine
- Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Engineering and Applied Sciences
- Mathematics and Computer Science
- Library of Congress Digital Library project
- List of members of the National Academy of Sciences
- National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
- National Science Foundation
- US National Academy of Sciences' Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy
- ITS. "Founding of the National Academy of Sciences". .nationalacademies.org. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- For an analysis of the motives by Alexander Dallas Bache for founding the NAS, see Jansen, Axel (2011). Alexander Dallas Bache: Building the American Nation through Science and Education in the Nineteenth Century. Campus. p. 285-314.
- OCGA. "An Act to Incorporate the National Academy of Sciences". .nationalacademies.org. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- A Chronicle of Public Laws Calling for Action by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, [and] National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academies. 1985. p. 5. NAP:11820. Retrieved 22 March 2014. [16 Stat. 277 and 36 U.S.C. § 252], Accessed at Google Books
- "About NAS: Membership". National Academy of Sciences. 2013.
- Alberts, Bruce (2005). "Summing Up: Creating a Scientific Temper for the World". National Academy of Sciences.
- Boffey, Philip, The Brain Bank of America, with an introduction by Ralph Nader, (McGraw-Hill, 1975).
- Stephen Hilgartner, Science on Stage (Stanford University Press, 2000).
- "Newsroom". National-Academies.org. 2011-06-02. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- National Academy of Sciences. "The NAS Building... a Temple of Science". Retrieved 12 October 2010.
- "Restoration of Historic National Academy of Sciences Building". CPNAS. National Academy of Sciences. 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- National Academy of Sciences. "Visiting Our Buildings". Retrieved 12 October 2010.
- "Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences". Retrieved 12 October 2010.
- "Constitution". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
- "Presidents of the National Academies". National Academy of Sciences. 2009.
- "Joint academies statement on climate change". Royalsociety.org. 2005-06-07. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change (Adobe PDF File)". Royalsociety.org. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- Helderman, Rosalind (May 9, 2010). "U-Va. urged to fight Cuccinelli subpoena in probe of scientist". Washington Post. p. C5.
- "Open letter: Climate change and the integrity of science". The Guardian. May 6, 2010.
- "Curriculum Vitae: Michael E. Mann". psu dot edu. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Helderman, Rosalind (May 9, 2010). "U-Va. urged to fight Cuccinelli subpoena in probe of scientist".
- Foley, Henry C.; Alan W. Scaroni and Candice A. Yekel (3 February 2010). "RA-10 Inquiry Report: Concerning the Allegations of Research Misconduct Against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Department of Meteorology, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University".
- Official website
- LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress
- The Library of Congress, Digital Collections and Programs
- The Library of Congress, Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
- "Boxer And Feinstein Concerned About Impartiality Of National Academy Of Sciences Perchlorate Committee", 14 May 2004
- Freeview Video Interview 2006 Sherwood Rowland, NL, discusses Climate Change. This and other programmes on members of the National Academy of Sciences can be found on the Vega Science Trust's website.
- National Academy of Sciences' Office of Cultural Programs
- National Academy of Sciences' Marian Koshland Science Museum
- The Science & Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences