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The Science Coalition and Illinois, Wisconsin Research Universities Honor Representative Bill Foster for his Commitment to Maintaining America’s Leadership in Basic Scientific Research
Award Presented at International Conference on High Energy Physics

Nick Rourke
Chicago, Aug. 8, 2016 – On behalf of The Science Coalition, four leading research universities – the University of Illinois system, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison – today presented a Champion of Science Award to Congressman Bill Foster of the 11th District in the Chicago area.

The award is given to members of Congress in recognition of their commitment to funding the basic research that keeps the United States at the forefront of scientific and medical discovery and technological innovation.

Congressman Foster, the only Ph.D. scientist in Congress, received the award before an audience of several hundred physicists during the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Chicago. The award was presented by representatives from the University of Illinois system, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which nominated him for the honor. 

“Congressman Foster is well-deserving of this award for his efforts to both defend and promote federal investment in scientific research,” said Tim Killeen, president of the University of Illinois system. “Rep. Foster’s personal passion for advancing science and innovation – especially energy research and technology development, an area in which the University of Illinois has renowned strengths – is consistently reflected in his committee work, legislative activities, votes and public engagement.”

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro said through his roles as both a scientist and legislator, “Congressman Foster has a unique understanding of the role of science in our nation's – and our state's – economic competitiveness.” 

“Congressman Bill Foster is an outstanding proponent of discovery-driven science at our universities and national laboratories,” Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker said. “His record of support demonstrates his commitment to research and development, as well as his strong desire to see our country remain at the forefront of technological advancement and innovation.” 

Foster called the award a “great honor.” 

“In Congress, I have fought to make sure we invest in the scientific research and training that is vital to our country's economic growth, public health and national security,” Foster said. “Scientific investment – whether through STEM education in schools or federal funding for scientific research – is a crucial priority for our country. If America wants to lead the world in the discoveries, innovation and advancements to improve lives, it will be our commitment to science that drives us forward.” 

Along with Illinois research universities, Foster’s nomination for the award was supported by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Foster received a bachelor’s degree in physics before earning his doctorate in physics from Harvard University. 

“Congressman Foster understood the benefits of science even as a teenager, when he and his brother brought digital controls to theater lighting and founded a business that still leads its field,” says Rebecca Blank, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “His support for research as a member of the House of Representatives helps ensure future generations of Americans will benefit from inventions we can’t yet even imagine.”

The Science Coalition’s Champion of Science Award recognizes members of Congress whose actions and votes consistently reflect their belief that basic scientific research, conducted at universities and national labs across the country, is essential to the nation’s ability to address pressing issues in health, security, energy and the environment, and additionally, that a strong federally supported basic research enterprise drives innovation that fuels the U.S. economy. Representative Foster joins a distinguished group of approximately 80 current and former members of Congress who have received this award since 1999.

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The Science Coalition, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, is dedicated to sustaining strong federal funding of basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation and drive America’s global competitiveness. Learn more at