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Sol Golomb Named Among Nation’s Top Scientists, Innovators

President Obama to confer National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by U.S. government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors
By: Adam Smith
December 22, 2012 —

Professor Sol Golomb, pictured with students here last spring, continues to teach and research having just celebrated 50 years at USC. Golomb was named a National Medal of Science laureate by President Obama last Friday.   
In a fitting capstone to his 50th year at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Solomon Golomb, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Communications, will receive the National Medal of Science, according to a White House release Friday.

Golomb was among 12 eminent researchers named by President Obama, recognizing individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the following six fields: behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physical sciences.

The recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony in early 2013. Golomb’s name will join an impressive registry of National Medal of Science laureates, including Theodore von Kármán, Claude Shannon and alumnus Andrew Viterbi, namesake of the USC Viterbi School. Viterbi, who received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1962, was mentored by Golomb, his colleague at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Golomb, one of the “Magnificent Seven” founders of the USC Communication Sciences Institute, has made profound contributions to mathematics and engineering, particularly in interplanetary communications. Video images from the Mars Rover Curiosity, which made headlines this past summer, owe a huge debt to Golomb's mathematical coding schemes, enabling pristine imagery transmitted from the Mars Rovers all the way back to Earth.

As Golomb noted in a 2004 interview: “By the time of the Apollo Moon landings, we could get radio signals to and from the Moon about 250,000 miles away. Now we can get television pictures from a planet more than 100 million miles away.”

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.