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NIU recognizes Congressman Bill Foster as ‘Champion of Science’

August 8, 2016

Representatives of Illinois and Wisconsin universities today presented the Champion of Science Award to Congressman Bill Foster.

Congressman Bill Foster during a visit to Fermilab. Credit: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab

Congressman Bill Foster during a visit to Fermilab. (Credit: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab)

The award is given by the Washington, D.C.-based Science Coalition to members of Congress in recognition of their commitment to funding the basic research that keeps the United States at the forefront of scientific and medical discovery and technological innovation.

Northern Illinois University was among the institutions that nominated Foster, along with Northwestern University, the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“As the only Ph.D. scientist in the United States Congress, it is a great honor to receive the Champion of Science Award,” Foster said.

“In Congress, I have fought to make sure we invest in the scientific research and training that is vital to our country’s economic growth, public health and national security. Scientific investment—whether through STEM education in schools or federal funding for scientific research—is a crucial priority for our country. If America wants to lead the world in the discoveries, innovation and advancements to improve lives, it will be our commitment to science that drives us forward.”

The award was presented this afternoon before an audience of about 1,000 physicists during the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Chicago.

“Congressman Bill Foster is an outstanding proponent of discovery-driven science at our universities and national laboratories,” NIU President Doug Baker said. “His record of support demonstrates his commitment to research and development, as well as his strong desire to see our country remain at the forefront of technological advancement and innovation.”

The Champion of Science Award recognizes members of Congress whose actions and votes consistently reflect their belief that basic scientific research, conducted at universities and national labs across the country, is essential to the nation’s ability to address pressing issues in health, security, energy and the environment, and additionally, that a strong federally supported basic research enterprise drives innovation that fuels the U.S. economy.

U.S. Rep. Foster joins a distinguished group of about 80 current and former members of Congress who have received the award since 1999. The list includes several members of the Illinois congressional delegation, including U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (2015), U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (2013) and U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (2012).

NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman looks on as Congressman Bill Foster accepts his award. (Credit: Fermilab)

NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman looks on as Congressman Bill Foster accepts his award. (Credit: Fermilab)

“Congressman Foster is a strong voice for long-term investment in education and scientific research, because he understands the value proposition,” said NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman, who was among the award presenters today. “I am delighted to see Congressman Foster recognized for his commitment to enhancing our children’s futures and our country’s economic prosperity.”

NIU physicist Jerry Blazey, interim vice president of Research and Innovation Partnerships, was also on hand for the award announcement. NIU was among the many sponsors of the week-long International Conference on High Energy Physics, and the university had seven faculty and student presenters.

“Congressman Foster has a deep and broad understanding of science, not only from the big-picture policy view but also from having been in the trenches as a working and highly successful scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, one of our closest partners,” Blazey said. “This award is richly deserved.”

The Science Coalition, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, is dedicated to sustaining strong federal funding of basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation and drive America’s global competitiveness.