Franklin Institute announces awards

Frederic Bertley, vice president of The Franklin Institute, addresses the press during the 2013 Franklin Awards announcement.—SUBMITTED PHOTO

The Franklin Institute has announced the names of individuals who will be honored for their pioneering achievements in science, technology and business leadership during the annual Franklin Institute Awards ceremony next spring.

Among the 2013 Franklin Institute Laureates are Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell, Inc.; director of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Subra Suresh; and University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Dr. William Labov. Dr. Kenichi Iga has been selected to receive the $250,000 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science, for his career-long devotion to research and development in the field of optoelectronics. Through their accomplishments in an array of disciplines, the Institute said, “each of these individuals has positively impacted the quality of human life and deepened our understanding of the universe.”

Labov, winner of the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, is being honored for “establishing the cognitive basis of language variation and change through rigorous analysis of linguistic data, and for the study of non-standard dialects with significant social and cultural implications.” He started out as a chemist and then became a lifelong, world-class linguist. “I suppose that like most linguists, I was always in love with language,” said the 85-year-old professor. “But somewhere in this business of listening to people I found that I had fallen in love with humanity.”

Spanning three centuries, this program is among the most widely known awards programs in existence. Named after Philadelphia’s own Ben Franklin — who was America’s first international celebrity — it is equivalent to today’s Nobel Prize. Since 1824, the list of Franklin Institute Awards Laureates is a roster of science and technology’s most important and influential names over the last two centuries, men and women who have deepened human knowledge at both the basic and the applied levels. This list includes Albert Einstein, Rudolph Diesel, Marie and Pierre Curie, Thomas Edison, Jane Goodall, Orville Wright, Stephen Hawking, Jacques Cousteau and James West.

“These exceptional individuals and their remarkable achievements do more than continue the legacy of Benjamin Franklin,” said Dennis M. Wint, president and CEO of the Franklin Institute, “They serve as role models for our youth, helping to ignite that spark of curiosity which has led to so many incredible and important discoveries.”

The Franklin Institute Awards Week 2013 is scheduled for April 22-26. The Franklin Institute Awards ceremony and dinner will be on April 25.


Contact staff writer Bobbi Booker at (215) 893-5749 or

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