NAE announces winners of 2020 Simon Ramo Founders and Arthur M. Bueche Awards

Washington D.C., October 02, 2020 –
On Sunday, Oct. 4, during the 2020 annual meeting, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will present two awards for extraordinary impact on the engineering profession. The Simon Ramo Founders Award will be presented to Frances S. Ligler for her research contributions and leadership in engineering. The Arthur M. Bueche Award will be given to Arden L. Bement Jr. for his contributions to technology research, policy, and national and international cooperation.

Frances S. Ligler is the Ross Lampe Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University and the School of Medicine and College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ligler is being recognized with the Simon Ramo Founders Award “for the invention and development of portable optical biosensors, service to the nation and profession, and educating the next, more diverse generation of engineers.” The award acknowledges outstanding professional, educational, and personal achievements to the benefit of society and includes a commemorative medal.

Prior to joining the joint department in 2013, Ligler was at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory for 28 years, serving since 1995 as the U.S. Navy Senior Scientist for Biosensors and Biomaterials. Earlier in her career, she was successively a principal scientist, project leader, and group leader for cellular immunology at DuPont. She has served on the board of trustees of Furman University and currently serves on the academic advisory board for Plaksha University, a new engineering college in India.

Ligler is currently working in the fields of biosensors, microfluidics, tissue-on-chip, and regenerative medicine; she has also conducted research in biochemistry, immunology, and analytical chemistry. She has over 400 publications, including 35 U.S. patents and four books, and has served on editorial boards for nine journals. Her inventions have been directly commercialized in 11 biosensor products used in food production plants, clinics in developing countries, pollution cleanup sites, and areas of concern for military and homeland security. She has mentored numerous university faculty and over 60 postdoctoral fellows, and co-published research with approximately 200 undergraduates.

Ligler was elected to the NAE in 2005 and has served on the NAE Council from 2014 to 2020. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the SPIE, and the National Academy of Inventors. In 2017 she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) for her inventions seminal to portable optical biosensors. She actively supports NIHF’s Collegiate Inventors Competition and signature program for K-6 students, Camp Invention.

In 2003 Ligler was recognized by the Christopher Columbus Foundation with its Homeland Security Award (Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Field) and by President George W. Bush with the Presidential Rank of Distinguished Senior Professional. In 2012 she was honored with the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Senior Professional by President Obama.

Arden L. Bement Jr. is the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Nuclear Engineering in the College of Engineering, Purdue University. He will be presented the Arthur M. Bueche Award “for contributions to science and technology advancement, international relationships, policy development, and Academies studies, from executive positions in government, industry, and academia.” The award recognizes an engineer who has shown dedication in science and technology as well as active involvement in determining U.S. science and technology policy, and includes a commemorative medal.

Bement was a joint professor of nuclear materials in the departments of Nuclear Engineering and Material Science and Engineering at MIT from 1970-1976. He began his tenure at Purdue University in 1993 as the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering with joint appointments in the Metallurgical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments. He became head of the School of Nuclear Engineering in 1998 and chief global affairs officer in 2010.

Working for the government, he has held appointments under six U.S. presidents: director of the Office of Materials Science, DARPA (1976-1980), deputy undersecretary of defense for research and advanced technology (1979-1980), director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (2001-2004), and director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) (2004-2010). At NIST he oversaw the definitive investigation of the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, and at NSF he expanded networking services for academic science and engineering research. He also served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO as co-chair of the Science and Technology Committee from 2004 to 2009.

In his industrial career, Bement was a senior research fellow at the AEC Hanford Laboratories operated by General Electric Co. (1954-65), manager of the Metallurgy Research Department and Fuels and Materials Department at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory operated by the Battelle Memorial Institute (1965-70), and vice president for technical resources and chief science and technical officer for TRW (1980-93).

For his achievements in academia, government, industry, Bement has received several national and international honors and distinctions. He received the White House Distinguished Federal Executive Award (1980), the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal (1980), and the Department of Commerce William C. Redman Award (1995). He is a member of the NAE (1993) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


The mission of the NAE is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshaling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to provide objective analysis and advice to the nation on matters of science, technology, and health.


Brandon Green

Communications/Media Specialist

National Academy of Engineering

PHONE 202.334.2226


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