Scientist of the Year
Frequently Asked Questions
BACK TO OVERVIEW
is there a California Scientist of the Year Award?
keeping with our mission to encourage public interest
and understanding of science and technology, the Science
Center honors leaders from California's scientific community
by bringing their work to the attention of the public.
By presenting this award each year, the Science Center
helps news of the latest and most important scientific
discoveries to reach the broadest possible audience.
long has the California Scientist of the Year Award been
first awards were given in 1958 to Heinz L. Fraenkel-Conrat,
Ph.D. (for his work in DNA research) and William A. Fowler,
Ph.D. (for his work exploring the nuclear reactions that
formed the chemical elements in the universe).
were no California Scientists of the Year chosen in 1997
were underway for the opening of the new Science Center,
so the California Scientist of the Year program was temporarily
put on hold.
does a scientist get nominated?
Science Center sends out nomination forms to universities,
research institutions and corporations all over California
to make sure that scientists find out about the award.
Coworkers or friends of qualified scientists usually nominate
candidates for the award, but scientists are also allowed
to nominate themselves. The nomination form asks what
contributions the nominee has made in his or her field
and how those discoveries benefit society. Usually, the
person nominating a scientist includes copies of articles
published by the nominee, as well as letters from other
scientists explaining why they think the candidate would
make a good California Scientist of the Year.
can be nominated?
can be nominated from any science field, including mathematics,
technology and the physical and biological sciences. Even
scientists whose work can't be published for security
reasons can be nominated. But of course, to be nominated
the scientist has to live and work in California!
I nominate a scientist?
you would like to nomintate a scientist, please download
the nomination form. Because
the nomination form requires specific information about
the candidates, nominating a scientist you don't know
yourself would be very difficult. But if you have heard
of a scientist you think would make a great California
Scientist of the Year and you can't nominate them yourself,
you may want to contact the company or college the scientist
works for to let them know about the California Scientist
of the Year Award.
there any scientists that can't be nominated?
can't win the California Scientist of the Year Award more
than once, and they also can't be nominated if they have
already won a Nobel Prize, Atoms for Peace Award, Fermi
Prize, Pulitzer Prize or Fields Medal.
does the Science Center pick the winner?
select a winner, a seven-person jury made up of senior
scientists from diverse academic backgrounds and institutions
carefully reviews all the nominations to see which scientist's
research has made the biggest current contribution in
his or her field of scienceand to science in general.
Their research could have added new knowledge to their
field, or it could have led to better technology in their
area of science. However, the winner's research should
have been done during the past five years so the award
can highlight the latest advances in California science.
Unlike other well-respected prizes, the California Scientist
of the Year Award is not a lifetime achievement award
because it emphasizes recent discoveries.
there ever a tie?
rarely are two people awarded the California Scientist
of the Year title in a single year because the jury's
task is to select one winner. However, if two scientists
working separately and independently make the same discovery,
or if two separate discoveries are equally important and
apply to the same scientific problem, the award can be
shared. Because scientific discoveries and technological
advances are often the result of team effort, the award
jury often has to choose the person who is most responsible
for the discoveries made by the team.
does the California Scientist of the Year win?
winner receives $5000 and is honored at a special VIP
evening reception followed by a formal banquet held at
the Science Center.