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Horace Mann Medal

The Horace Mann Medal is given annually to a Brown Graduate School alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions in his or her field, inside or outside of academia. Any graduate of a Brown advanced-degree program is eligible.  The medal is awarded at Commencement exercises in May. 

The Graduate School issues a call for nominations in September, with a late October deadline. A nomination should, at a minimum, include a strong supporting rationale for the nomination, expressed in a letter of nomination. Up to two additional supporting letters may also accompany the nomination. Send all nominations to

The final selection process takes place in the fall, in conjunction with the University's selection of honorary-degree recipients. (Nominations received after the deadline will be considered in the next round of review.) Selection news is announced in May.

This award was created in 2003 and replaced the Distinguished Graduate School Alumni Award.  

2014-2015 Horace Mann Medal winner:

Lynn Rothschild ’85 Ph.D.

Lynn Rothschild is a pioneer in Astrobiology, a Senior Scientist and Lead Scientist for Synthetic Biology at NASA Ames Research Center and a teacher influencing multiple levels of study on space and life. She has broad training in biology and received the Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from Brown University in 1985.

At the Ames Research Center in California, her lab has focused on broad evolutionary questions and space applications. She explores how life, particularly microbes , has evolved in the context of physical environment, both here and potentially elsewhere. By hosting undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from around the world, her lab has a significant impact on graduate education in this field.

She is shaping the field of Astrobiology. Dr. Rothschild was the founding co-editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Astrobiology and organized the first three Astrobiology Science Conferences. She has served as the Director of the Astrobiology Strategic Analysis and Support Office at NASA. 

Over the past six years, Dr. Rothschild has developed and led a program in synthetic biology at NASA. She works with researchers in academia, industry and government agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  

She remains connected to Brown as an adjunct Professor in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry. Since 2011, Dr. Rothschild has been the faculty advisor of a combined Brown-Stanford iGEM team, which is a student synthetic biology competition. In 2014, the team was expanded to include Spelman College.

She was elected to the Presidency of the Society of Protozoologists and served on the Executive Council of the International Society of Protistology. She is an elected of the Linnean Society of London, Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astonautics, a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Explorer’s Club. She has won numerous NASA awards, including the 2013 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Fellowship and NASA Outstanding Achievement Award. She was the 2015 recipient of the Isaac Asimov Award from the American Humanist Association.

Previous Medal Recipients