September 29, 2011
National science medalist from University of Utah credits freedom and opportunity in U.S. for his success
(Geoffrey Fattah, Deseret News) — Peter Stang, the latest University of Utah scientist to receive the prestigious National Medal of Science, remembers the urgency of his parents to leave his native Hungary two days after his 15th birthday as Soviet tanks began rolling in to occupy the east European country in 1956.
“It brought the old Soviet system: oppression and the lack of freedom,” Stang said. “Three hundred thousand Hungarians; 3 percent of the country left.”
Stang recalls the fear and exhilaration of coming to the United States — a foreign land, but one filled with opportunity. “I spoke no English then,” he said.
From those beginnings, Stang worked hard to become a pre-eminent authority in the field of chemistry. On Tuesday, the White House announced Stang, 69, will receive the National Medal of Science, the highest honor given to a scientist or engineer by the United States.
“It’s very humbling, and it’s a great honor,” Stang said. Stang is a distinguished professor of chemistry at the University of Utah and the former dean of the U.’s College of Science. He credited the help of more than 100 postdoctoral and Ph.D. students who have helped him in his research.
Stang was among seven scientists honored with the Medal of Science and five inventors honored with the National Medal in Technology and Innovation. Stang will be presented the medal by President Obama later this year.
“Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” President Barack Obama said in a statement announcing the awards.
Stang is only the fourth researcher at the U. to receive the honor. “The National Medal of Science represents a pinnacle of accomplishment for American scientists,” U. interim president Lorris Betz said. More…Posted by: psilberman