Killian, James Rhyne, 1904-

Alternative names
Birth 1904-07-24
Death 1988-01-29

Biographical notes:

Scientist, college administrator.

From the description of Reminiscences of James Rhyne Killian, Jr. : oral history, 1970. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122565732

  • October 24, 1957: First Award: Niels Henrik David Bohr
  • January 29, 1959: Second Award: George Charles de Hevesy
  • May 18, 1960: Third Award: Leo Szilard and Eugene Paul Wigner
  • May 18, 1960: Fourth Award: Alvin M. Weinberg and Walter H. Zinn
  • April 6, 1961: Fifth Award: Sir John Cockcroft
  • October 24, 1963: Sixth Award: Vladimir Iosovich Vekslev and Edwin McMillan
  • November 14, 1967: Seventh Award: Bertrand L. Goldschmidt, W. Bennett Lewis, and Isidor Isaac Rabi
  • October 14, 1968: Eighth Award: Sigvard Eklund, Abdus Salam, and Henry DeWolf Smyth
  • May 14, 1969: Ninth Award: Aage Niels Bohr, Floyd LeRoy Culler, Jr., Henry Seymour Kaplan, Ben Ray Mottelson, Compton Alexander Rennie, Anthony Leonid Turkevich
  • May 14, 1969: Tenth Award: Dwight David Eisenhower

On July 20, 1955, in Geneva, Switzerland, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for an international effort to apply nuclear science to peaceful purposes and expressed his hope that "private business and professional men throughout the world will take an interest and provide an incentive in finding new ways that this new science can be used . . . for the benefit of mankind and not destruction." In response, Henry Ford II, Benson Ford, and Henry Clay Ford proposed that the Ford Motor Company Fund authorize an appropriation of one million dollars to be granted at a rate of $100,000 annually for ten years to recognize outstanding contributions to the peaceful application of nuclear energy. The "Atoms for Peace Awards, A Memorial to Henry Ford and Edsel Ford," was established by the directors of the Fund to receive and administer the monies. The creation of the Awards was announced at the World Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 8, 1955, by Admiral Lewis L. Strauss, chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission.

On August 12, 1955, James R. Killian, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accepted the invitation of Henry Ford II to serve as chairman of the Organization and Planning Committee for the Atoms for Peace Awards. Six other committee members were subsequently appointed to consider questions of policy and administration. Their decisions and recommendations, which included a suggested Certificate of Incorporation and By-Laws for the Atoms for Peace Awards, Inc., were submitted to the Ford Motor Company Fund. These were approved and, on behalf of the Fund, the committee members were named trustees of the new non-profit organization.

Award recipients were selected by the trustees from among the world's scientists, engineers, and others who, in their judgment, had made the greatest contribution to the development of peaceful uses of atomic energy. The award winners were chosen without regard for nationality or political ideology and received a cash honorarium accompanied by a commemorative medal. Individuals and organizations were encouraged to nominate any person who had made a significant contribution. An Advisory Committee on Nominations, appointed by the Board of Trustees, conducted the preliminary screening of the nominations and submitted its recommendations to the trustees who made the final decision. If the Board of Trustees failed to discover a candidate meriting the award, the award and medal were withheld during that year.

From the guide to the Atoms for Peace Awards records, 1944-1972, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections)


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  • Science and state
  • Nuclear energy
  • Science and the humanities
  • Scientists--Interviews


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  • United States (as recorded)