Mischel, Other Golden Goose Awardees, to Be Honored in DC

The fourth annual Golden Goose Awards ceremony will be held Sept. 17 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., with APS Past President Walter Mischel and two other psychological scientists among the 2015 honorees.

The final group of awardees was announced today. Joel E. Cohen, a mathematical population biologist, and Christopher Small, a geophysicist, are being honored for their groundbreaking work on “hysopgraphic demography” – the study of how human populations are distributed by altitude and how that exposes them to varied geophysical and biological hazards. Neurophysiologists David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel are also receiving the award this year for their pioneering work on neuroplasticity.

In June, Mischel, a William James Fellow, along with his colleagues, APS Fellow Yuichi Shoda (University of Washington) and Philip Peake (Smith College), were the first group to be selected for the 2015 Golden Goose Awards in recognition of their extensive contributions to the understanding of the lifelong benefits of self-discipline. Mischel’s classic studies in childhood self-control, known popularly as the marshmallow tests, are among the most famous and impactful experiments in psychological science.

Past recipients of the award have included pioneers in such fields such as microbiology, marine geology, economics, computer science, mathematics, and biochemistry.

The congressionally endorsed Golden Goose Awards were inspired by US Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), who proposed the recognition as a way to increase understanding of the nature of science. In addition, the Golden Goose is meant as an antidote to such attacks on science as the Golden Fleece award, a gimmick created by the late US Sen. William Proxmire (D-WI), to highlight what he termed wasteful federal spending that targeted peer-reviewed science often just on the basis of a study’s title or abstract.

Cooper envisioned an award that would highlight examples of seemingly obscure, federally funded studies that have led to major discoveries and significant societal impact. Several organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Universities, and the Progressive Policy Institute, took up Cooper’s idea and began issuing the awards annually in 2012. APS is among the sponsors of the award.

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