Robert Axelrod awarded National Medal of Science


Robert Axelrod, a U-M professor of political science and public policy, has received the National Medal of Science.

President Obama selected him for the medal, the nation’s highest honor for achievement in the field of science and engineering. He and other new awardees will receive their medals at a White House ceremony later this year.

Robert Axelrod

“Bob Axelrod’s work on the evolution of cooperation has done a great deal to rebuild the thinking world’s faith in the power of cooperation,” said Susan Collins, dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. “We hope this well-deserved honor draws much more attention to his game-changing discoveries.”

Axelrod, who also is the Mary Ann and Charles R Walgreen Jr. Professor for the Study of Human Understanding, wrote “The Evolution of Cooperation,” which outlines a powerfully effective recipe for de-escalating conflict. The New York Times suggested his theory might be “our best hope” for extricating the world from the era’s escalating arms race.

He was recognized with a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, inducted into the National Academy of Sciences (the youngest political scientist ever to receive that honor) and the first to be recognized with the academy’s award for “behavioral research relevant to the prevention of nuclear war.”

Axelrod draws on a wide range of disciplines, including evolutionary biology, psychology and artificial intelligence in his work. He also has interests in international security affairs, including cyber issues and Middle East politics.

He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and received his doctorate from Yale University.


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