CHICAGO, Nov. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation (ALPLF) will award its prestigious Lincoln Leadership Prize to Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D., astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History and the first occupant of the Frederick P. Rose Directorship at the Hayden Planetarium. Tyson - the first scientist to receive the coveted prize - works tirelessly to advance America's science legacy, which Lincoln helped to further when he established the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1863.
The Lincoln Leadership Prize - to be awarded March 9, 2017, at the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Ave.) - is an annual award that recognizes outstanding individuals for a lifetime of service in the spirit of the 16 th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The award honors individuals who manifest great strength of character, individual conscience and unwavering commitment to the defining principles of democracy. While science, engineering and innovation are not immediately associated with Abraham Lincoln, he understood the important role those would play in America's development. Through his work on the Morrill Act of 1862, which established land grant universities dedicated to engineering and science in each state, and his establishment of the NAS in 1863, Abraham Lincoln ensured we would educate future generations placing our nation on a path to scientific enlightenment. To this day, he remains the only president to hold a patent. "Through his vast body of work, Neil deGrasse Tyson has paid tribute and continues to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln who was a pioneer in the prioritization of science in order to move the nation forward," said Dr. Carla Knorowski, Chief Executive Officer, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. "Tyson has become one of science's greatest advocates. He is a masterful communicator, who is able to explain complex scientific theories and make them understandable to the average person. He is a brilliant astrophysicist who also happens to be a pop culture icon, who is able to inspire and engage generations of fellow scientists, students of science and armchair enthusiasts around the globe." Tyson has served as Executive Science Editor, Host and Narrator for Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, which won four Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and two Critics Choice Awards. Tyson also served on two presidential commissions under George W. Bush - one studied the future of the U.S. aerospace industry and the other studied the future of NASA. In 2000, Asteroid 1994 KA was named 13123 Tyson in his honor. The recipient of the prestigious NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal and the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, Tyson earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics (1991) from Columbia University, and a bachelor's degree in physics (1980) from Harvard University. He also is a graduate of the prestigious The Bronx High School of Science. He is the recipient of 19 honorary degrees, and in 2000 he was voted "Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive" by People Magazine. "I think of myself not as a leader but as a scientist and as an educator. The fact that people follow what I do, or count me among the leaders in the land, is evidence of a growing curiosity permeating society for how and why science matters in our lives," said Tyson. "To be recognized for this effort, not only by the public but by the Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, has affirmed that I must be doing something right."