Two Stanford professors awarded 2015 National Medal of Science

Jan. 4, 2016, 11:14 p.m.

Stanford professors Albert Bandura, professor emeritus of psychology, and Stanley Falkow, professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology, have been awarded the 2015 National Medal of Science, according to a Stanford News report. They will receive their medals at a White House ceremony in January.

“Their lifetime of work in preventing infectious disease and in learning how we can understand and change behavior has been instrumental in helping people around the world lead healthier, more productive and more peaceful lives,” said President John Hennessy to the Stanford News.

Bandura, Stanford faculty since 1953, is renowned for his research in social cognitive theory and self-efficacy.

In particular, he found that people can change their own behaviors and ways of thinking by observing others, a concept that led to the development of modern social cognitive theory. Bandura was also the first to prove that self-efficacy, a belief in one’s abilities to accomplish a task, affects the tasks one chooses, one’s willingness to take on difficult tasks and one’s perception of the task.

Falkow, a Stanford faculty member since 1981, is being recognized for his research on the microbial development of infectious disease and antibiotic resistance.

He is known for his work on the virulence of bacteria and the role of chromosomal fragments called plasmids in antibiotic resistance. He realized that some bacteria could be resistant to antibiotics to which they had never been exposed. Falkow later discovered that bacteria gained their resistance by sharing their genes with other bacteria by using plasmids as the vehicles for capturing and disseminating resistance genes.

According to the White House announcement, the National Medal of Science, created in 1959, is awarded annually by the National Science Foundation. It recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to chemistry, engineering, computing, mathematics and the biological, behavioral/social and physical sciences.

This year, nine scientists across the country received the award.

Contact Ariel Han Liu at aliu15 ‘at’


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