Golden Goose Award

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The Golden Goose Award is a United States award established in 2012 that officially recognizes scientists whose federally funded basic research has led to innovations or inventions which have a significant impact on humanity or society. The results have been significant health and economic benefits. The award has bi-partisan support in Congress and is sponsored by a number of notable organizations and legislators.

The burgeoning research has often had odd-sounding names. Since the 1970s such titles were the subject of ridicule by the late Senator William Proxmire and his monthly Golden Fleece Awards. For example, with his first Golden Fleece Award in March 1975, Senator Proxmire directly ridiculed a National Science Foundation study on why people fall in love.[1]

Another study entitled "Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig Cochlea" has resulted in a treatment for hearing loss in infants. Other research funded by U.S. federal agencies have led to widely used technologies such as laser technology, the internet, fiber optics, the Global Positioning System, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer touch screens and lithium-ion batteries.[2][3][4][5] Recipients receive the award in a ceremony during the fall each year on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.


In the face of pressure to cut wasteful spending in the U.S. federal budget, along with the need to underscore the significance of basic research, and as a counter to Proxmire's awards, this award was created. Awardees include Nobel Prize winners. The purpose of the awards is to "demonstrate the human and economic benefits of federally funded research by highlighting examples of seemingly obscure or unusual studies that have led to major breakthroughs and have had a significant impact on society".[6] The purpose of the award has also been described as follows:

"Such innovation has been critically important to economic growth in the United States, and will be even more so as global scientific research becomes increasingly competitive".[4]

"Ever since the days of the Golden Fleece Awards, spearheaded by the late Senator William Proxmire, some policymakers have delighted in turning quirky or unusual research titles into a punch line".[2][5]

"The United States may now risk falling behind in scientific discoveries as other countries increase their science funding. We need to get serious about science".[5]


Year Award Title Project Awardees
2012 Coralline Ceramics Bone Grafts from Coral Jon Weber, Eugene White, Rodney White, Della Roy
Green Fluorescent Protein Medical Advances from Jellyfish Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, Roger Tsien
The Maser The Maser Charles Townes
2013 Diabetes Medication Diabetes Medication Developed from Gila Monster Venom John Eng
Thermus aquaticus Thermus aquaticus Thomas D. Brock, Hudson Freeze
Market Design Market Design Alvin E. Roth, David Gale, Lloyd Shapley
2014 Black Holes and Supercomputing Black Holes and Supercomputing Larry Smarr
Auction Design Auction Design Preston McAfee, Paul Milgrom, Robert Wilson
Rat and Infant Message Rat Massage Research Helps Premature Babies Thrive Tiffany Field, Gary Evoniuk, Cynthia Kuhn, Saul Schanberg
2015 Trick or Treat: The Marshmallow Test The Marshmallow Test Walter Mischel, Yuichi Shoda, Philip Peake
Out of Sight: Neuroplasticitiy and Vision Ocular Dominance Columns Torsten Wiesel, David Hubel
Of Maps and Men Hypsographic Demography Joel E. Cohen, Christopher Small
2016 A Tale of Two Studies: The Adolescent Health Story The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health Peter Bearman, Barbara Entwisle, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ronald Rindfuss, Richard Udry
The Sex Life of the Screw Worm Fly The Sex Life of the Screw Worm Fly Edward F. Knipling, Raymond C. Bushland
The Honey Bee Algorithm The Honey Bee Algorithm John J. Bartholdi III, Sunil Nakrani, Thomas Dyer Seeley, Craig A. Tovey, John Hagood Vande Vate
2017 The Sea Soy Solution[7] The Sea Soy Solution Kaichang Li
The Silence of the Frogs[8] The Silence of the Frogs Joyce Longcore, Elaine Lamirande, Don Nichols, Allan Pessier
Fuzzy Logic, Clear Impact[9] Fuzzy Logic, Clear Impact Lotfi A. Zadeh
2018 The Goose Gland: Discoveries in Immunology[10] The Goose Gland: Discoveries in Immunology Bruce Glick
Chickens, Cells and Cytokines[11] Chickens, Cells and Cytokines Stanley Cohen
Implicit Bias, Explicit Science[12] Implicit Bias, Explicit Science Mahzarin Banaji, Anthony Greenwald, Brian Nosek

Historical examples[edit]

The bi-partisan group of legislators that back the Golden Goose award and the founding organizations cite odd-titled research of the past which led to widely used scientific advances. The first cited example is when Alexander Fleming published Anti-Bacterial Substance in Filtrates of Broth in 1926 which has become known as penicillin. Second, X-rays probably sounded odd in 1895 after Wilhelm Röntgen named such phenomena that caused a glow in a nearby chemically coated screen. Third, studies on the excretion of urine in dogs and the excretion of insulin by dog fish ultimately led to advancements in understanding diabetes which earned the National Medal of Science.

Founding Organizations[edit]

Some of the founding organizations for this award are the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U), the Breakthrough Institute, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), and The Science Coalition (TSC) [6]


  1. ^ Yager, M.; Emmett, M. (2012). "How worms' sex behavior can have a major impact on understanding human disease". Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center). 25 (4): 395–396. PMC 3448588Freely accessible. PMID 23077397. 
  2. ^ a b Ginger Pinholster (April 30, 2012). "Bipartisan Launch of Golden Goose Award Celebrates the Contributions of Basic Science". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  3. ^ Davis, Hallowell (1953). "Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 25 (6): 1180. Bibcode:1953ASAJ...25.1180D. doi:10.1121/1.1907260. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  4. ^ a b E. W. Lempinen (September 13, 2012). "U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner: "It's Time to Get Serious about Science"". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  5. ^ a b c Jim Cooper; Alan I. Leshner (September 9, 2012). "It's time to get serious about science". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  6. ^ a b "First Golden Goose Awards Given for Seemingly Odd—but High-Impact—Research". American Association for the Advancement of Science. September 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  7. ^ "2017: The Sea Soy Solution — The Golden Goose Award". The Golden Goose Award. 
  8. ^ "2017: The Silence of the Frogs — The Golden Goose Award". The Golden Goose Award. 
  9. ^ "2017: Fuzzy Logic, Clear Impact — The Golden Goose Award". The Golden Goose Award. 
  10. ^ "2018: The Goose Gland: Discoveries in Immunology — The Golden Goose Award". The Golden Goose Award. 
  11. ^ "2018: Chickens, Cells and Cytokines — The Golden Goose Award". The Golden Goose Award. 
  12. ^ "2018: Implicit Bias, Explicit Science — The Golden Goose Award". The Golden Goose Award. 

External links[edit]