Geraldine Richmond, University of Oregon chemistry professor extraordinaire and global advocate for the sciences, will be awarded the highest honor available to US scientists, the National Medal of Science.
Richmond, who is a US Science Envoy, has recently been working in Vietnam and Cambodia to develop research and education collaborations.

“It’s been heart wrenching for me to go into Cambodia, where many of the teachers were killed off by the Pol Pot regime—their science teachers in particular,” she says. “Many young kids—even kids in their teens—have little concept of what science is.”

In addition to running one of the leading research laboratories in her field, Richmond is among the world’s most influential advocates for science education. In 1997, she cofounded COACh, a grassroots organization based at the University of Oregon that is acclaimed for increasing the number and success of women scientists in the US and internationally.

Her successes through COACh, especially in Africa, helped lead to her appointment as a science envoy in 2014. In 2015, she made multiple trips to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to learn about the state of their research, education and technology efforts and ways the U.S. could expand collaborations in those areas.

In her coming year as science envoy, Richmond will work on several projects including building regional research capacity for addressing the epidemic of childhood stunting in the region and helping women interested in technology to reach their career aspirations. 

Richmond, one of the first UO professors appointed to a Philip H. Knight Professorship, is the Presidential Chair of Science at the UO and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Board. Her research advances our understanding of chemical interactions on the surface of water, which underpin many critical environmental, chemical, and biological processes on our planet. 

She is the second UO professor to receive the Medal of Science. Michael Posner, an emeritus professor considered one of the leading figures in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, received the honor in 2008.

Learn more about Geri Richmond’s remarkable career and scientific achievements at

In her own words

Read Professor Richmond’s editorial on the importance of global science engagement, published January 29 in the journal Science.

By Melody Ward Leslie, BA ’79