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2010 AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Award presented to the Honorable Rush Holt, Ph.D., for supporting science in Congress

The Honorable Rush Holt, U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 12th Congressional District, has been chosen to receive the 2010 AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Award in honor of his work as an advocate for investments in research and development as well as education to expand America's scientific workforce.

Specifically, the award selection committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) said that Rep. Holt "was selected on the basis of his strong and sustained support of science and engineering and their responsible use in addressing major societal concerns, both as a scientist and as a leading Member of Congress."

AAAS chief executive officer Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of the journal Science said: "Rep. Holt is a recognized leader in Congress on science and technology issues and has been tireless in his efforts to convey to his fellow legislators and the general public a better understanding of what scientists and engineers do and how science and technology will contribute to national economic growth and security."

Rep. Holt, a Democrat, was elected in 1998 and has been reelected six times since then. He previously served as Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University's largest research facility and the largest center for energy research in New Jersey, from 1989 to 1998.

In 1970, Rep. Holt earned his B.A. in physics from Carleton College in Minnesota. He then earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in physics from New York University in 1981. From 1980 to 1988, Rep. Holt served as a faculty member at Swarthmore College where he taught classes in physics, religion, and public policy. He also worked as a AAAS Congressional Science Fellow for U.S. Representative Bob Edgar of Pennsylvania. Rep. Holt headed the Nuclear and Scientific Division of the Office of Strategic Forces at the U.S. Department of State from 1987 to 1989.

After his election, Rep. Holt joined Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich., a 2002 Philip Hauge Abelson Award winner, as the second research physicist ever elected to Congress. His committee memberships include Education and Labor; Natural Resources; and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He has advocated for scientists in the public and private sectors as well as students of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

As a member of Congress, Rep. Holt has been a champion for research and development in the sciences. He supported the America COMPETES Act, which authorizes necessary investments in research, development, and education to keep America competitive in the new global economy. He also testified before the House Budget Committee in support of the President's fiscal year 2009 budget increases for National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Rep. Holt proposed budget increases for agencies facing flat or declining budgets, including National Institutes of Health (NIH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Agriculture. Additionally, he worked with the House leadership to include funding for research and development in the supplemental budget bill for fiscal year 2008, preventing layoffs of scientists at national labs sponsored by the Department of Energy.

In 2004, Rep. Holt co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Research and Development Caucus which has brought in experts from the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, and the Georgia Research Alliance on issues ranging from modernizing the electric grid, improving the U.S. technology economy, and bio-fuels. The caucus currently has 55 members from both parties.

Rep. Holt has engaged the private sector to encourage business innovation by introducing the Create Jobs by Expanding the R&D Tax Credit Act to temporarily increase the R&D tax credit for two years. He has supported a permanent extension of the R&D Tax Credit (H.R. 1712) to allow companies to make long term investments in research and development leading to the development of new technologies, products, and services. Rep. Holt wrote the Creating Jobs from Innovative Small Businesses Act to encourage small business investment by establishing a temporary 20 percent tax credit for investments in research-intensive small businesses, building on a successful state initiative in New Jersey and 17 other states.

In an effort to make Central New Jersey a research and development hub that will create jobs and promote economic growth, Rep. Holt formed Einstein's Alley, a private nonprofit economic development initiative. Since its inception, Einstein's Alley has held two summits and a breakfast series. Einstein's Alley currently strives to encourage innovation by linking entrepreneurs, investment capital, and skilled workers.

To support students of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, Rep. Holt introduced and the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1051, which would create a public database of scholarships and fellowships, encouraging students to pursue their fields regardless of their financial circumstances. He championed a provision in the America COMPETES Act to create state P-16 Councils to promote better alignment of elementary and secondary education with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in institutes of higher education. Rep. Holt increased funding for the Department of Education's Mathematics and Science Partnerships program by more than $150 million. He held meetings with local employers in science and technology to discuss ways to promote workforce development and he hosted a group of science, technology, engineering and math educators for a day of meetings on Capitol Hill to talk with members of Congress and education policy experts.

Holt's work has earned him recognition as Biotech Legislator of the Year, the Science Coalition's Champion of Science Award, and Scientific American's designation as one of 50 national "visionaries" contributing to "a brighter technological future."

For all these accomplishments, Rep. Holt was characterized by his award nominators as "a dedicated public servant who has made sustained exceptional contributions to advancing science."

The Abelson Award was inspired by Philip Hauge Abelson, who served as long-time senior advisor to AAAS and editor of the journal Science. Abelson, who also served as president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, died 1 August 2004, following more than 60 years of service to science and society.

The award is given annually to either a public servant in recognition of sustained exceptional contributions to advancing science, or to a scientist whose career has been distinguished both for scientific achievement and for other notable services to the scientific community. The award was established in 1985 by the AAAS Board of Directors and consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $5,000. The award will be awarded to Rep. Holt during the 177th AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., which will take place 17-21 February 2011. The awards ceremony and reception will be held at the Grand Ballroom North, Washington Renaissance Downtown, on Saturday, 19 February at 6:00 p.m.


Contact: Katharine Zambon
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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