About the National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare.
The NAS was established by an Act of Congress that was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863, at the height of the Civil War, which calls up the NAS to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report up any subject of science or art" whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government. Scientific issues would become more complex in the years following the war, and to expand the expertise available to it in its advisory service to the government, the NAS created the National Research Council under its charter in 1916. To keep pace with the growing roles that science and technology would play in public life, the National Academy of Engineering was established under the NAS charter in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine followed in 1970.
Since 1863, the nation's leaders have turned to these nonprofit organizations for advice on the scientific and technological issues that frequently pervade policy decisions. Most of the institution's science policy and technical work is conducted by its operating arm, the National Research Council (NRC), which was created expressly for this purpose and which provides a public service by working outside the framework of government to ensure independent advice on matters of science, technology, and medicine. The NRC enlists committees of the nation's top scientists, engineers, and other experts, all of whom volunteer their time to study specific concerns. The results of their deliberations have inspired some of America's most significant and lasting efforts to improve the health, education, and welfare of the population. The Academy's service to government has become so essential that Congress and the White House have issued legislation and executive orders during the years that reaffirm its unique role.
The Academy membership is composed of approximately 2,100 members and 380 foreign associates, of whom nearly 200 have won Nobel Prizes. Members and foreign associates of the Academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer. The Academy is governed by a Council consisting of 12 members (councilors) and 5 officers, elected from among the Academy membership. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is the president of the National Academy of Sciences.
To learn more about the NAS, visit their website at nasonline.org.