National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit, non-governmental organization. NAS is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

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 highest honors in the scientific field. Members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation" on science, engineering, and medicine. The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.

Founded in 1863 as a result of an Act of Congress that was approved by Abraham Lincoln, the NAS is charged with "providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. … to provide scientific advice to the government 'whenever called upon' by any government department. The Academy receives no compensation from the government for its services."[1]

National Academy of Sciences
NationalAcademySciences 07110011

The National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C..
FormationMarch 3, 1863
FoundersAlexander Dallas Bache
Abraham Lincoln
Founded at2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C., U.S. 20418


As of 2016, the National Academy of Sciences includes about 2,350 members and 450 foreign associates.[2] It employed about 1,100 staff in 2005.[3] The current members annually elect new members for life. Up to 84 members who are US citizens are elected every year; up to 21 foreign citizens may be elected as foreign associates annually.[4] Approximately 190 members have won a Nobel Prize.[2] By its own admission in 1989, the addition of women to the Academy "continues at a dismal trickle", at which time there were 1,516 male members and 57 female members.[5]

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 serves as a liaison for U.S. national committees for individual scientific unions. Although there is no formal relationship with state and local academies of science, there often is informal dialogue. The National 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.[6] About 85 percent of funding comes from the federal government through contracts and grants from agencies and 15 percent from state governments, private foundations, industrial organizations, and funds provided by the Academies member organizations.

The Council has the ability ad-hoc to delegate certain tasks to committees. For example, the Committee on Animal Nutrition has produced a series of Nutrient requirements of domestic animals reports since at least 1944, each one being initiated by a different sub-committee of experts in the field for example on dairy cattle.

The National Academy of Sciences meets annually in Washington, D.C., which is 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 5,000 publications freely available on its website.[7]

From 2004 to 2017, the National Academy of Sciences administered the Marian Koshland Science Museum to provide public exhibits and programming related to its policy work. The museum's exhibits focused on climate change and infectious disease. In 2017 the museum closed and made way for a new science outreach program called LabX.


Beckman Conference Center, National Academies (USA)
The National Academies' Beckman Conference Center, Irvine, California

The National Academy of Sciences maintains multiple buildings around the United States.

The National Academy of Sciences Building is located at 2101 Constitution Avenue, in northwest Washington, D.C.; it sits on the National Mall, adjacent to the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building and in front of the headquarters of the U.S. State Department. The building has a neoclassical architectural style and was built by architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. The building was dedicated in 1924[8] and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Goodhue engaged a team of artists and architectural sculptors including Albert Herter, Lee Lawrie, and Hildreth Meiere to design interior embellishments celebrating the history and significance of science.[9] The building is used for lectures, symposia, exhibitions, and concerts, in addition to annual meetings of the NAS, NAE, and NAM. 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.[10]

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.[11] The Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences – formerly located at 525 E St., N.W. – hosted visits from the public, school field trips, traveling exhibits, and permanent science exhibits.[12]

The NAS also maintains conference centers in California and Massachusetts.[11] The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center 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 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).[13]

Keck Center of the National Academies
The Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, D.C., one of several facilities where the National Academy of Sciences maintains offices.

In 1863, enlisting the support of Alexander Dallas Bache and Charles Henry Davis, a professional astronomer who had been recently recalled from the Navy to Washington to head the Bureau of Navigation. They also elicited support from Swiss-American geologist Louis Agassiz and American mathematician Benjamin Peirce, who together 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.[14]

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".[15]

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.[15]

Although hailed as a great step forward in government recognition of the role of science in American society, at the time, the National Academy of Sciences created enormous ill-feelings among scientists,[15] whether or not they were named as incorporators.

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.[16]

The National Academies did not solve the problems facing a nation in Civil War as the Lazzaroni had hoped, nor did it centralize American scientific efforts.[15] However, election to the National Academy did come to be considered "the pinnacle of scientific achievement for Americans" until the establishment of the Nobel Prize at the end of the 19th Century.[17]:30

In 1870, the congressional charter was amended to remove the limitation on the number of members.[18]

In 2013, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked to write a speech for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in which he made the point that one of Lincoln's greatest legacies was establishing the National Academy of Sciences in that same year, which had the long-term effect of "setting our Nation on a course of scientifically enlightened governance, without which we all may perish from this Earth".[19]


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 22 presidents since its foundation. The current president is geophysicist Marcia K. McNutt, the first woman to hold this position. Her term expires June 30, 2022.[20]


The Academy gives a number of different awards:

Joint Declaration on Global Warming

In 2005, the national science academies of the G8 forum (including the National Academy of Sciences) and 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.[21]

On May 7, 2010, a letter signed by 255 Academy members was published in Science magazine, decrying "political assaults" against climate change scientists.[22][23] This was in response to a civil investigative demand on the University of Virginia (UVA) by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, seeking a broad range of documents from Michael E. Mann, a former UVA professor from 1999-2005.[24][25] 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.[26]

See also

Notable appointments


  1. ^ "Overview: NAS Mission". National Academies of Science. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b "About NAS: Membership". National Academy of Sciences. 2013.
  3. ^ Alberts, Bruce (2005). "Summing Up: Creating a Scientific Temper for the World" (PDF). National Academy of Sciences.
  4. ^, National Academy of Sciences -. "Overview: Membership". Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  5. ^ "News of the week from the science world". Journals. San Francisco Examiner. May 20, 1989. p. D-2 – via
  6. ^ "Constitution". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  7. ^ "Newsroom". 2011-06-02. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  8. ^ National Academy of Sciences. "The NAS Building ... a Temple of Science". Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  9. ^ "A Home for Science in America". Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  10. ^ "Restoration of Historic National Academy of Sciences Building". CPNAS. National Academy of Sciences. 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  11. ^ a b National Academy of Sciences. "Visiting Our Buildings". Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  12. ^ "Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences". Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  13. ^ ITS. "Founding of the National Academy of Sciences". Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ a b c d Miller, Lillian; Voss, Frederick; Hussey, Jeannette (1972). The Lazzaroni: science and scientists in mid-nineteenth-century America. Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 121. Retrieved 2007-10-26.
  16. ^ OCGA. "An Act to Incorporate the National Academy of Sciences". Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  17. ^ Stankus, Tony (1990). Scientific journals: Improving library collections through analysis of publishing trends. Haworth Press. ISBN 0-886656-905-7 – via Internet Archive.CS1 maint: Ignored ISBN errors (link)
  18. ^ 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
  19. ^ Neil deGrasse Tyson's Gettysburg Reply - "The Seedbed"
  20. ^ "Leadership and Governance". National Academy of Sciences. 2016.
  21. ^ "Statement on Global Response to Climate Change". The Royal Society. 2005-06-07.
  22. ^ Helderman, Rosalind (May 9, 2010). "U-Va. urged to fight Cuccinelli subpoena in probe of scientist". Washington Post. p. C5.
  23. ^ "Open letter: Climate change and the integrity of science". The Guardian. May 6, 2010.
  24. ^ "Curriculum Vitae: Michael E. Mann". psu dot edu. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  25. ^ Helderman, Rosalind (May 9, 2010). "U-Va. urged to fight Cuccinelli subpoena in probe of scientist". Washington Post. p. C5.
  26. ^ Foley, Henry C.; Alan W. Scaroni; 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" (PDF). The Pennsylvania State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  27. ^ a b c "Membership FAQ". NAS.
  28. ^ Trans News Editors (May 11, 2013). "Neurobiologist Becomes First Transgender Scientist Selected For U.S. National Academy of Science Membership". Trans News. Trans Media Network.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)

Further reading

External links

Armenian National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (NAS RA) (Armenian: Հայաստանի Հանրապետության գիտությունների ազգային ակադեմիա, ՀՀ ԳԱԱ, Hayastani Hanrapetut’yan gitut’yunneri azgayin akademia) is the primary body that conducts research and coordinates activities in the fields of science and social sciences in Armenia.

Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences

Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Milli Elmlər Akademiyası (AMEA)), located in Baku, is the main state research organization and the primary body that conducts research and coordinates activities in the fields of science and social sciences in Azerbaijan. It was established on 23 January 1945.

The President of ANAS is Acad. Akif Alizadeh and the Academician-Secretary of ANAS is Acad. Rasim Alguliyev.One section of the ANAS is Republican Seismic Survey Center of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.

Clinton Davisson

Clinton Joseph Davisson (October 22, 1881 – February 1, 1958), was an American physicist who won the 1937 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of electron diffraction in the famous Davisson-Germer experiment. Davisson shared the Nobel Prize with George Paget Thomson, who independently discovered electron diffraction at about the same time as Davisson.

Detlev Bronk

Detlev Wulf Bronk (August 13, 1897 – November 17, 1975) was a prominent American scientist, educator, and administrator. He is credited with establishing biophysics as a recognized discipline. Bronk served as President of Johns Hopkins University from 1949 to 1953 and as President of The Rockefeller University from 1953 to 1968. Bronk also held the presidency of the National Academy of Sciences between 1950 and 1962.

Earl Reece Stadtman

Earl Reece Stadtman (November 15, 1919 – January 7, 2008) was an American biochemist,

notable for his research of enzymes

and anaerobic bacteria.

Stadtman received the National Medal of Science from President Jimmy Carter in 1979 "for seminal contributions to understanding of the energy metabolism of anaerobic bacteria and for elucidation of major mechanisms whereby the rates of metabolic processes are finely matched to the requirements of the living cell."

Stadtman was Chief of the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the National Heart Institute.

Stadtman was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Washington Post called Stadtman a "revered biochemist." He was the husband of Thressa Stadtman, who discovered selenocysteine.

Georgian National Academy of Sciences

The Georgian National Academy of Sciences (GNAS) (Georgian: საქართველოს მეცნიერებათა ეროვნული აკადემია, translit.: sakartvelos metsnierebata erovnuli ak'ademia) is a main learned society of the Georgia. It was named Georgian SSR Academy of Sciences until November 1990. The Academy coordinates scientific research in Georgia and develops relationship with the academies and scientific centers of foreign countries.

Glenn W. Burton

Glenn W. Burton (May 5, 1910 near Clatonia, Gage County, Nebraska – November 22, 2005 Tifton, Georgia) was an American agricultural scientist notable for his pioneering work in plant breeding, development of pearl millet in 1956 and for other contributions that helped increase world food production.Burton was also known for the development of bermuda grasses used on athletic fields. Of these, his Tifton 419 was the most widely used bermuda grass in the world as of 2006.Burton received the National Medal of Science from President Ronald Reagan: "For outstanding contributions to the biological sciences that have helped to feed the hungry, protect and beautify the environment, and provide recreation for millions."Burton was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the Agronomic Science Foundation.

Harland G. Wood

Harland Goff Wood (September 2, 1907 – September 12, 1991) was an American biochemist notable for proving in 1935 that animals, humans and bacteria utilized carbon dioxide.

Wood was a recipient of the National Medal of Science.

Wood was on the President's Science Advisory Committee under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Wood was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Biochemical Society of Japan.

He was also first director of the Department of Biochemistry at the School of Medicine and Dean of Sciences, Case Western Reserve University.

Howard Bachrach

Howard Lloyd Bachrach (May 21, 1920 – June 26, 2008) was an American scientist who made research contributions to the understanding of viruses such as foot-and-mouth disease and polio. Bachrach's work led to the first vaccination developed through genetic engineering techniques. He worked for the United States Department of Agriculture and was chief scientist at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Bachrach was a recipient of the National Medal of Science and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

James A. Shannon

James Augustine Shannon (9 August 1904 – 20 May 1994) was an American nephrologist who served as director of National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1955-1968. In 1962 he was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

A collection of his papers is held at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.

National Academy of Medicine

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly called the Institute of Medicine (IoM), is an American nonprofit, non-governmental organization. The National Academy of Medicine is a part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the National Research Council (NRC).

The National Academy of Medicine provides national and international advice on issues relating to health, medicine, health policy, and biomedical science. It aims to provide unbiased, evidence-based, and authoritative information and advice concerning health and science policy to policy-makers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society, and the public at large.

Operating outside the framework of the U.S. federal government, it relies on a volunteer workforce of scientists and other experts, operating under a formal peer-review system. As a national academy, the organization annually elects new members with the help of its current members; the election is based on the members' distinguished and continuing achievements in a relevant field as well as for their willingness to participate actively.

National Academy of Sciences, India

The National Academy of Sciences, India, established in 1930, is the oldest science academy in India. It is located in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh.

National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU; Ukrainian: Національна академія наук України, Natsional’na akademiya nauk Ukrayiny, abbr: NAN Ukraine) is a self-governing state-funded organization in Ukraine that is the main center of development of science and technology by coordinating a system of research institutes in the country. It is the main research oriented organization along with the five other academies in Ukraine specialized in various scientific disciplines. NAS Ukraine consists of numerous departments, sections, research institutes, scientific centers and various other supporting scientific organizations.

The Academy reports on the annual basis to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The presidium of the academy is located at the following address vulytsia Volodymyrska, 57, across the street from the Building of Pedagogical Museum where used to preside the Central Council during the independence period of 1917-18.

In 1921–1991 it was a republican branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union.

Philip Handler

Philip Handler (August 13, 1917 – December 29, 1981) was an American nutritionist, and biochemist. He was President of the United States National Academy of Sciences for two terms from 1969 to 1981. He was also a recipient of the National Medal of Science.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (often abbreviated PNAS or PNAS USA) is a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journal. It is the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences, published since 1915, and publishes original research, scientific reviews, commentaries, and letters. According to Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2017 impact factor of 9.504. PNAS is the second most cited scientific journal, with more than 1.9 million cumulative citations from 2008-2018. In the lay press, PNAS has been described variously as "prestigious", "sedate", "renowned", and "high impact".PNAS is a delayed open access journal, with an embargo period of 6 months that can be bypassed for an author fee (hybrid open access). Since September 2017, open access articles are published under a Creative Commons license. Since January 2019, PNAS is online-only, although print issues are available on-demand.

Robert Axelrod

Robert Marshall Axelrod (born May 27, 1943) is an American political scientist. He is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Michigan where he has been since 1974. He is best known for his interdisciplinary work on the evolution of cooperation, which has been cited in numerous articles. His current research interests include complexity theory (especially agent-based modeling), international security, and cyber security. Axelrod is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Axelrod is also a Senior Fellow at ARTIS International.

Robert H. Burris

Robert H. Burris (April 13, 1914 – May 11, 2010) was a professor in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1961. Research in Burris's lab focused on enzyme reaction mechanisms, and he made significant contributions to our knowledge of nitrogen fixation.

Robert Woodrow Wilson

For the accelerator physicist and founding director of Fermilab, see Robert R. Wilson.

For the American president, see Woodrow Wilson.Robert Woodrow Wilson (born January 10, 1936) is an American astronomer who, along with Arno Allan Penzias, discovered cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) in 1964. The pair won the 1978 Nobel laureate in physics for their discovery.

While working on a new type of antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, they found a source of noise in the atmosphere that they could not explain. After removing all potential sources of noise, including pigeon droppings on the antenna, the noise was finally identified as CMB, which served as important corroboration of the Big Bang theory.

Stephen J. Benkovic

Stephen James Benkovic (born April 20, 1938) is an American chemist. He is Evan Pugh Professor and Eberly Chair in Chemistry at Penn State University. His research has focused on mechanistic enzymology and the discovery of enzyme inhibitors. He was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1985.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.