Bruce Alberts, a prominent biochemist with a strong commitment to the improvement of science education, was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama in 2014. Dr. Alberts served as Editor-in-Chief of Science (2008-2013) and as one of President Obama’s first three Science Envoys, assigned to Indonesia (2009-2011). He returned to the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco in 2005, assuming the Chancellor’s Leadership Chair for Science and Education after serving for 12 years as the president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
During his tenure at the NAS, Alberts was instrumental in developing the landmark National Science Education standards. The type of “science as inquiry” teaching we need, says Alberts, emphasizes “logical, hands-on problem solving, and it insists on having evidence for claims that can be confirmed by others. It requires work in cooperative groups, where those with different types of talents can discover them – developing self confidence and an ability to communicate effectively with others.”
Alberts is also noted as one of the original authors of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, a preeminent textbook in the field now in its seventh edition. For the period 2000 to 2009, he served as the co-chair of the InterAcademy Council, an organization in Amsterdam governed by the presidents of 15 national academies of sciences; established to provide scientific advice to the world, it is now known as the InterAcademy Partnership for Policy and relocated to Trieste.
Committed in his international work to the promotion of the “creativity, openness and tolerance that are inherent to science,” Alberts believes that “scientists all around the world must band together to help create more rational, scientifically-based societies that find dogmatism intolerable.” Widely recognized for his research on the molecular mechanism of the protein machines that catalyze DNA replication, Alberts has earned many honors and awards, including 18 honorary degrees.