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A number of scientists who are either US citizens or have done their major research in the US have been awarded the Nobel Prize in different categories. The list below separates them into 3 categories (A/B/C).

Prizes to US Scientists

Physics 152 57 1 0
Chemistry 127 37 0 0
Medicine/Physiology 164 66 5 0
Economics 42 24 0 0


In 1993, the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology was awarded to Richard Roberts (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories) and Phillip Sharp (MIT) for the discovery of gene splicing.

J. D. Watson, Director of Cold Spring Harbor Labs said later in an interview with Science that there was another scientist (Chow) who should have had a share (Science 268, 23 June 95, p1708). He said "Louise did it, and it's terrible that she didn't win". The problem was at that time the role of another scientist, Berget, who was also deserving, "and including her would have made four - one too many for the Nobel rules".


This problem was discussed by the students in December 1997, the month that the Nobel Prizes are awarded. I wanted to draw attention not only to the reward system in sciences but the larger issue of criteria, selection and exclusion. The problem was discussed in two parts. The first part provided an opportunity to determine what categories A, B and C were. Although A and B (male and female) were relatively easy to discern, category C (black Americans) required some prompting. This led to a discussion of gender and race in science. The second part brought into sharper focus the political considerations involved. The problem was used to explore not only the Nobel Prizes, selection criteria, gender and race considerations in science, but also the actual studies carried out to demonstrate gene splicing.

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