Two, Southern California researchers were awarded the nation's top honor for their contributions to science and technology Friday, as President Obama awarded twelve researchers the National Medal of Science, and eleven inventors with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at a ceremony at the White House. Dr. Frances Arnold, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and Dr. Solomon Golomb of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering was awarded the National Medal of Science, recognizing the contributions the two have made to the nation in the areas of science and technology.
Golomb was given the National Medal of Science for his advances in mathematics and communications; his research has been key to advances in everything from radar, cell phone communications, to space communications. Among other things, Golomb invented polyominoes, which inspired the game Tetris. His mathematics work helped make spread spectrum, digital communications possible.
Arnold was given the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, for her work on chemical engineering and biochemistry, which is applicable to the production of biofuels. She was also a co-founder at Gevo, the biofuels startup which spun out of Caltech, which had its IPO in 2011.