Celebrating underappreciated research pioneers

Golden Goose Awards recognize 'the cornerstone of American innovation'

Oct. 3—The third annual Golden Goose Awards recognized eight researchers for obscure, federally funded research that led to significant societal impact or major scientific breakthroughs.

A panel of scientists and university research leaders selected the recipients, whose work was funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the former Atomic Energy Commission.

The awards "demonstrate the human and economic benefits" of such research, "the cornerstone of American innovation."  

"We don’t know the next big scientific discovery, but we must continue to invest in basic research that gave today's awardees their momentous, and unexpected, breakthroughs," said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) who first came up with the idea for the awards.

This year's awards celebrated:

  • Larry Smarr, whose work on black hole collisions at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign prompted him to champion the advancement of supercomputing power in the United States and the NCSA Mosaic, precursor to modern web browsers.
  • Robert Wilson, Paul Milgrom, and R. Preston McAfee for game theory and auction research at Stanford University, Northwestern University, and University of Texas. The findings led the Federal Communications Commission to auction spectrum licenses in 1994, eventually leading to the telecommunications revolution.
  • Cynthia Kuhn, Gary Evoniuk, Tiffany Martini Field, and Saul Schanberg for their rat pup research at Duke University and University of Miami that resulted in the discovery of the importance of touch for human development and massage as a successful treatment for premature infants (Toiv, Association of American Universities release, 9/18).

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